Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Boyer Moves To Limit Brook Run Hours

By Mary Swint and Dick Williams

Following a meeting with Dunwoody residents and after hearing DeKalb County’s plan to operate the new Brook Run skate park, Commissioner Elaine Boyer is moving to limit the hours of operation, increase security, re-landscape the park and control the use of lights and music.

DeKalb’s Parks and Recreation Department revealed its plans for operating the park at last week’s county commission work session. The session confirmed neighborhood fears that the park would operate until 10:30 p.m. most nights. In the county plan, the skate park would be open from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday from May through August. From September through April, the hours would be 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Saturdays. Sunday hours would be noon to 10:30 p.m. all year. The skate park would be closed only on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

After the work session, Boyer met with John Heneghan, president of the Dunwoody North Civic Association, and others to hear their objections. As a result, she is proposing to county officials that a sound and light check be made as soon as possible. The park has nine light poles with loudspeakers, even though at the last community meeting in March 2005, parks officials said lighting wasn’t planned at first. “The people on Peeler Road deserve lots of protection,” Boyer said after spending several weekend hours at Brook Run.

She is proposing that the park turn the lights out at 8:30 p.m. with final closing at 9 p.m. from May through August. During the school year she proposes closing the park at 8:30 p.m., with lights out at 8 p.m. “And I want a much earlier closing on Sundays,” Boyer said. “Even shopping malls close early on that day.” Boyer said the county already is looking to hire a second security person for the 102 acres that include the skate park.

Boyer also is proposing what she calls “massive re-landscaping” of the Peeler Road side of the skate park, adding many more buffer plants where five acres of trees and brush were clear cut in January.

Current parks department plans include allowing children as young as 8 to skate without parental supervision. Boyer would change that age to 11.

“I couldn’t be happier that Commissioner Boyer has requested that the skate park be operated in a practical manner within our quiet residential neighborhood," said Heneghan. "The changes are reasonable and the immediate neighbors on Peeler will be elated."

At the commission session, the parks department also described how music would be handled. Boom boxes will be prohibited but patrons can use I Pods and CD players.

“Any music we will control. The department wants to control the music,” DeKalb Parks Director Marilyn Boyd Drew said. “We will operate lights and speakers within the ordinances.”

Boyer, however, wants strict sound checks to protect Peeler Road residences and the Anglican and Episcopal churches across from the Brook Run entrance.

Daily admission fees for DeKalb residents will be $3 for youths and $4 for adults. Non-residents fees will be $5 for youths and $6 for adults. Annual passes will be available for $40 for DeKalb youths and $50 for DeKalb adults. Non-resident annual passes will cost $60 for youths and $70 for adults.

Each patron will have to submit a signed waiver and wear a helmet. Knee and elbow pads will be recommended but not required.

Concessions will include two drink vending machines and a machine that will dispense hot dogs and hamburgers. All containers will be plastic, rather than metal or glass, for safety purposes, Drew pointed out. The concession stand will also serve the Children’s Adventure Garden. She pointed out the facility will have family style restrooms which will help fathers accompanying their daughters.

Staff will include one manager who will work on a contract basis, and two supervisors and eight recreation assistants, who will work part-time or on temporary basis for the Parks Department. Maintenance will be shared by the Parks Department and Facilities Management Department.

Security will be provided by a private firm and the DeKalb Police Department. One Dunwoody resident said trespassers have been seen skating in the park already, including one man who appeared to be a DeKalb police officer out of uniform. Residents have expressed concern that the 102-acre park is patrolled by one security guard.

Mike Ryan, deputy director of services for the parks department, said there will be four skating zones, including the peanut zone that resembles a pool and a racetrack. The 27,000-square foot facility will accommodate BMX bikes, in-line skates and skateboards. The skate park will offer classes on each activity and safety, parks officials said.

The skate park’s parking lot will also serve the children’s garden and the Brook Run’s theater nearby.

The Parks Department said it researched more than 50 skate parks and its staff visited four skating parks, including ones in Decatur, Athens and Gwinnett, Ryan said. They also met with three experts on skate park operations and marketing. The research was used in setting the fees and hours of operation.

Most skate parks are open seven days a week from eight to 12 hours per day and most operate year-round, the staff found. A survey of eight organizations indicated operating budgets range from $75,000 to $200,000 and average revenue is $135,000 with an average annual attendance of 30,000.

Addressing criticism that the community was left out of the planning for the skate park, Associate Parks Director Marvin Billups said there were two charettes in preparing the master plan, which called for a skate park at Brook Run. The last was in March 2005. Dunwoody resident Ric Woroniecki said the charettes were sub-meetings of the process and were not advertised. “We have had poor representation on this issue.” He also objected to the county’s plans to market the skate park to the region to generate revenue. “This area is not zoned commercial,” he said.

State Rep. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) insisted in an interview that even with Boyer’s proposed changes, a community meeting on the skate park is necessary. “It’s a fine park,” Millar said, “but it’s a destination attraction not suitable for a residential neighborhood.” Millar said he was pleased that Boyer had stepped in to mitigate some of the objections to the skate park. “Still, this just isn't acceptable and the residents haven't been kept informed,” he said. “If there were a city of Dunwoody, we wouldn't have this travesty.”

Bobbi Sedam, a board member of the Dunwoody North Civic Association, said the Brook Run Conservancy did not tell the community about the size of the skate park. The conservancy is a non-profit organization formed in 2005 to help raise money for improvements to the Brook Run Park, which the county purchased from the state in 1998.

The March 2003 Conceptual Master Plan Narrative for Brook Run described the skate park as: “This area is devoted to teen-agers and post-playground kids. These enclosed and supervised venues will provide a much demanded activity area for skateboarding, roller hockey and adventure course/rock climbing. Keeping the nature theme in mind, however, these facilities would be sculpted to fit into the existing topography and wooded areas. This prototypical skate park area could be run by a third-party operator and be a source of revenue generation for Brook Run as well as other parks throughout DeKalb County.”

Greg White, assistant director of the Decatur Parks Department, said the city’s skate park does not charge a fee as a result of an agreement with the KaBoom organization that helped build it along with Home Depot. The Decatur skate park is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to sunset and from 10:30 a.m. to sunset on weekends. The park has no staff, White said.

Children and adults skate and ride BMX bikes together.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Brook Run Skate Park Hours & Policies

The link below has the handout from the DeKalb Meeting of June 19 discussing the Operational Policies of the Brook Run Skate park. 192007.pdf

Brook Run Skate Park will be open 363 days a year, closed Thanksgiving & Christmas.

Hours of Operation
Spring/Summer (May - August)
Mon - Fri 10:00 am - 10:30 pm
Sat 10:00 am - 10:30 pm
Sun Noon - 10:30 pm

Fall/Winter (Sept - Apr)
Mon - Fri 3:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Sat 10:00 am - 10:30 pm
Sun Noon - 10:30 pm

BMX Bike use - Tue & Thur 3:00 - 5:00 & Sun Noon - 2:00 pm

Daily Fees
$3.00 Youth Resident / $5.00 non-resident
$4.00 Adult Resident / $6.00 non-resident

Annual Pass
$40.00 Youth Resident / $60.00 non-resident
$50.00 Adult Resident / $70.00 non-resident

Waiver & Helmet needed by all. No Scooters Allowed.
Staff of 1 Manager / 2 Supervisors & 8 Assistants.
Increased Security by contracted security firm and DeKalb Police
Will offer instructional programs.

A 30 min video of the DeKalb BOC work session from June 19, 2007 is now available at the link below. It was at this meeting where the operational policy of the skate park was presented to the commissioners & the CEO.

The first half is the presentation followed by question & answers.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Brook Run Neighbors Seek Answers

by Cathy Cobbs
Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Whose park is it anyway? Stonewalled by DeKalb County parks officials and unable to get answers, residents near Brook Run Park are asking the community to come out firing today with their questions and concerns about the nearly completed skate park at the 102-acre facility. (Reprinted with permission from the Dunwoody Crier)

The DeKalb Parks and Greenspace committee changed its regular meeting time and location to a tour of the Brook Run and the Chestnut Donaldson sites in Dunwoody. The committee is an advisory body appointed by the county commission. The tour will start at Brook Run Park at 5:30 p.m., (June 13) near the Children’s Adventure Garden and conclude at the Chestnut Donaldson site about a mile away.

Residents of Dunwoody North, across the street from the North Peachtree Road park, are asking citizens to come armed with questions on placards. They say the questions have gone unanswered by county officials. “After years of slow development, Brook Run Park in Dunwoody is currently at a crossroads, moving away from being a quiet 102 acres of forested property to a regional entertainment attraction operating seven days a week, until 10:30 pm.,” said Dunwoody North Civic Association President John Heneghan. “The skate park is in the final stages of construction and the county has tentatively informed the skate community that the hours of operation will be from 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., seven days per week.”

Heneghan said the renovations at the park were funded by the $230 million bond referendum, and that county officials said that $11.5 million of that money was to be spent on Brook Run. It was further promised that public meetings would be held soon after the referendum passed to allow for community input about the park. However, despite pressure from residents, and in particular state Rep. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody), who has been in contact several times with officials asking for a public forum about the park’s future, the county has been stingy with information and has yet to schedule a meeting. “These meetings never happened and the county decided on their own that the best item for the county to install was the skate park which would be ‘revenue producing’ for other parks in other parts of the county,” Heneghan said. “After paying for a bond referendum, why should our children have to pay to use a park which our taxes already paid for?”

Residents were startled and concerned last December when five acres adjacent to the Children’s Adventure Playground was cleared to prepare for a 25,000-square-foot skate park. Some neighbors have continued to voice concerns about the clear-cutting, including Paul Lowry, who believes that the scope of the project has gone beyond the original master plan for the park. “A mistake and lack of representation for the public support has occurred,” he said in an e-mail to The Crier. “This has been taken in a direction by DeKalb County that we did not want and is not needed.

A vote for parks and green space and bonds has been wrongly used.” Lowry claimed that the skate park will become a revenue-producing facility, be brightly lit and stay open after dusk, and those concerns appear to be validated. “The skate park was supposed to be sculpted to fit into the existing topography and wooded areas,” Heneghan said. “This clearly didn’t happen when five acres of trees were cleared overnight.”

Heneghan urged residents to turn out at the park with concerns in writing, specifically ones written on large posters. “Please come (along with your children and grandchildren) to the Brook Run playground by 5 p.m. Wednesday so that the county is able to see the use it gets and they will be able to read the poster or sign that you created with your thoughts of how Brook Run should operate,” he said in an email to The Crier and others. “During the meeting or ‘tour’ of Brook Run, I will be holding a large poster asking for more seating at the playground,” Heneghan said. Marvin Billups, the deputy director of parks, didn’t return the Crier’s phone call prior to deadline. He has said in the past that the park’s hours and operations are still being determined.