Thursday, April 22, 2010

State Legislation - DeKalb parks pass to Dunwoody along with $7 million dollars in bond proceeds.


Today was a great day for the City of Dunwoody.
House Bill 203 moves to the Governor's desk.

Today legislation passed on both the Senate and House floors of the Georgia Legislature transferring parks from DeKalb to Dunwoody for a nominal price along with the $7 million dollars the County promised during the last parks bond referendum.

I was home from work today attempting to get over a stomach bug so I was able to watch the live stream of Dan Weber from the Senate floor convincing fellow legislatures that HB 203 was the right and just decision on the transfer of property since the citizens of Dunwoody have paid for these parks with their taxes for many years.

I was able to see Rep. Mike Jacobs bring that same piece of legislation back to the House floor for the final passage of the amendments which were made to the original bill.  A short break was called then about 5 minutes later as I was listening to the chit chat on the podium I was able to hear the call for reconsideration live on the web via an open microphone.  Knowing that this was unexpected during a break when many of the representatives had left the floor, I quickly called our City Attorney, Brian Anderson and Councilman Tom Taylor who have been working diligently at the Capital to push this legislation.  Luckily they were able to round up representatives like our good friend from Sandy Springs, Representative Wendell Willard to assure we had the votes in the room when the reconsideration happened.

When the reconsideration for the last vote was finally proposed by Rep. Howard Mosby, the arguments made against the measure were firmly struck down by the level headed Representative from Dunwoody, Mr. Fran Millar.

Kudos to all involved, including Mayor Wright, our City Manager, Warren Hutmacher, members of Council and especially Councilman Tom Taylor who has very effectively served behind the scenes as Dunwoody's legislative point person for a number of years bringing us to where we are today.  Thank you.

On to the Governor's desk... or would a signing ceremony at Brook Run Park be more appropriate?

19 comments:

Chip said...

Can we get the $55,000 back from the "consultant" who was supposed to do the lobbying for this??? Seems like Taylor and Millar did all the heavy lifting, and the "consultant" didn't do anything useful.

Chip

Rick said...
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Rick said...

John, Good ears!

Aleister Crowley said...

I'm just hoping that in the hand-off of the local parks from DeKalb County to the City of Dunwoody that minorities will still be welcomed and there was not a surreptitious intent otherwise. These will still be parks to be shared with our brethren.

Platos Republic said...

Aleister,

As soon as the transactions is in place I will suggest to council that proof of Dunwoody residence be provided to access any of the parks. We'll need to hire new security guard for Brook Run.

TwoDogsTrucking said...

Law of unintended consequences: No new park land as the city will be unable to afford market price and the county definitely won’t help. A new CofD Fire Depart-the county definitely won‘t build any more fire houses in Dunwoody. A CofD Library as I’m going to bet the Dunwoody branch will be marked for closure in a convenient cost cutting move by the BOC. No new water and sewer connections with out significant impact fees as the county will say the CofD doesn’t get to dump on the unincorporated areas for free. Definitely a new and very expensive 911 center so that in the short distance along I285 from Roswell Rd to I85 we’ll have 5 different 911 centers. A looming city council crisis over the cost cutting proposal of using sheep to mow the parks and finally millions of tax dollars spent on law suits. To the Citizens for Dunwoody and Dunwoody Yes crowd I hope your “dream” accounted for all this and more. Dunwoody has definitely branded itself-unreasonable. To paraphrase a recent Crier article by a CofD advocate; The recent action by the legislature continues a pattern of votes against the interest of all of DeKalb County.
Why couldn’t the legislature make it legal for a county gov’t to own a park inside of a city, doesn’t the state own park land inside of both cities and counties? Why not trade the PCID or part of it for the park land? Why not lease and operate the land from the county? No additional long term debt incurred!
Dunwoody isn’t better or even different gov’t, it’s just unnecessary gov’t.

Wishbone Nolan said...
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Wishbone Nolan said...

TwoDogsTrucking...your post was very insightful and eye-opening. Your glib comments are about the most lucid description of what is really happening in this city and its consequences.

Thanks for being courageous enough to cut through all the "rah, rah, anything the City of Dunwoody does is better than what DeKalb County did" palaver and obsequiousness and providing a bit of truth here.

PolitiMom said...

Lets see...since the park opened, the Brook stopped running, the swing chains are rusty (thanks to DeK not purchasing coated chains to begin with); the sandbox is now a mulch box and the covered tunnel is now just curved pipe. ANYTHING has to be better than DeKalb running our parks. Bring it on BOC--just leave the parks to us!

Wishbone Nolan said...

And Mommy, do you know why the DeKalb parks in the rest of the county are so much better than the Dunwoody ones? It is that they have volunteer caretakers that maintain the parks; whereas, in Dunwoody entitled Mommies feel that someone needs to magically do this work for them and not have to pay higher taxes for it.

Well, well, well, the same goes once it is turned over to the City of Dunwoody...so, I'll bet you your bon-bon's and a DVD of your favorite soap opera to my real world experience that nothing will change unless you are willing to help out.

Wishbone Nolan said...

Just curious when you "I was home from work today attempting to get over a stomach bug so I was able to watch the live stream of Dan Weber...I was able to see Rep. Mike Jacobs bring that same piece of legislation back to the House floor for the final passage of the amendments which were made to the original bill. A short break was called then about 5 minutes later as I was listening to the chit chat on the podium I was able to hear the call for reconsideration live on the web via an open microphone. Knowing that this was unexpected during a break when many of the representatives had left the floor, I quickly called our City Attorney, Brian Anderson and Councilman Tom Taylor who have been working diligently at the Capital to push this legislation." who was paying for this sick day? The City of Dunwoody taxpayers? Or the United States federal government taxpayers?

In my day, a worker went to work if they were the least bit ambulatory. If we were well enough to watch TV and make calls to an attorney, our butt was at work.

PolitiMom said...

Hey Wishbone-clearly you need to visit the other DeKalb parks. Perhaps you are confusing Sandy Springs and Roswell parks with DeKalb. Once the locals get control of the parks, as with government, it will all get better.

Looking forward to the day I can eat my bon bons and watch my soap opera on my iphone while sitting next to a running brook.

John Heneghan said...

Legislature gives Dunwoody control of county-owned parks

Dunwoody residents broke away from DeKalb County by forming a city in December 2008.

The divorce wasn't painless. Dunwoody residents complained because the 102-acre Brook Run Park and other recreation facilities inside the city limits remained under DeKalb County control.

That changed this week. The General Assembly approved a bill allowing Dunwoody to take over the parks by paying DeKalb $100 per acre. The deal is similar to what Sandy Springs and other new cities in North Fulton paid Fulton County. DeKalb has about 165 acres of park space in Dunwoody.

DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader said he expects the county to sue.

“There is a provision for the thing to be referred to a court and I think there is a pretty good chance that will happen,” he said Friday.

Earlier in the week, Rader complained DeKalb was getting a bad deal.

“We have about $13 million sunk in the park already,” Rader said. “We bought the land from the state and spent quite a bit of county money taking down obsolete buildings and all that entails. We have operated the park without any compensation whatsoever from Dunwoody."

Dunwoody City Council member Tom Taylor said DeKalb hasn't done a good job of keeping up the parks. "They're being maintained, but at a minimum level," he said.

Language was added to the bill to allow the DeKalb Development Authority to issue bonds for private construction projects without a voter referendum. That could result in DeKalb receiving millions in federal stimulus funds.

Bill sponsor Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Atlanta) introduced that part of the bill because of a 2009 Georgia Supreme Court ruling that said a referendum was required for all construction, whether public or private, receiving bond financing through the DeKalb authority.

"The law will be parsed back to make certain the referendum requirement only applies to public facilities projects," Jacobs said.

The bill, which now awaits Gov. Sonny Perdue’s signature, also gives Dunwoody $7 million in county bond proceeds earmarked for Brook Run improvements.

Taylor said the city will survey residents. The other parks in the city limits include the Dunwoody Nature Center, senior baseball fields, Winwood Hollow Park and the historic Donaldson-Chestnut House.

“We’ve got to figure out what the community wants,” he said.

The bill passed the Senate 40-6 and the House 109-45 on Wednesday.

The bill would also allow Dunwoody to pay $5,000 each for three county fire stations. The city contracts with DeKalb County for fire service at this time but might form its own fire department in the future, Taylor said.

Bob said...

You know the County is going to file several lawsuits, and then they are going to try to reduce the amount of money they say is set aside for Brook Run. (It is 7+ Million no doubt about that).
There are a lot of pissed off folks in Decatur who just got outsmarted by the A team in Dunwoody and they will not go quietly in the night.
And before we start thinking of spending any money on Farm Life Museums, let’s get Brook Run up to where it belongs for all the citizens who want to enjoy the 100 acre green space.
Tear down the slum buildings, put some benches and rest areas in the play ground, restore the theater, replant the grass in some of the fields, install an irrigation system to keep things alive, figure out what do with the skate park, put in bathrooms.... need I go on.
And lastly we better start taking care of it now, because whatever little attention it was getting before, you can bet the house the County will not put anything more into Brook Run now.

Bob Lundsten

Lindsay said...

Great points Bob. Brook Run is what we need to concentrate on first with city funds. The Spruill Arts Center needs to be looked after as well.

We should look into raising private funds to get the ball fields in shape and anything people may want to do with a farm museum.

If we wait until the lawsuits are settled it will be far too late to get Brook Run back to what we expect. If you look just below the surface, it's looks as if we are getting close to minimal life support maintenance now.

Pattie Baker said...

If you haven't come by and looked at the community garden in Brook Run yet (or lately), it's worth a visit (it's past the dog park, on the left, where the sidewalk ends). Every penny spent there was spent by citizens. Every work hour given there was volunteer time. We have completely transformed that piece of property, and it is now an active gathering spot where everyone is welcome (scout troops come to our outdoor classroom often, and we just put in a demonstration bed for those with mobility issues), plus we are donating up to 30 pounds a week of organically-grown food to the food pantry at St. Pat's. Last week, 100% of the families-in-need walked away with a bag of "Dunwoody-grown" food.

We can do amazing things together if we stay positive, if we believe in the impossible, and if we are willing to do a little heavy lifting.

Pattie Baker said...

And there's a strong chance you'll see Bob Lundsten if you come by. That man makes dreams reality. Trust me. I've seen him do it again and again and again.

Cerebration said...

Good going, Dunwoody. Jeff Rader is my district rep - don't listen to his criticisms. He has been unable to bring our district little parkland whatsoever with our millions in bond money. In fact, our district has far, far fewer acres per person than anyone - anywhere. You're lucky to have a park - and representation who fights for you. I think I'll drive over and take a walk! (Arabia is way too far away.)

In Rader's own words,

"In the 2001 parks bond fund, each district got an equal slice of pie, so to speak. But there was also a large slice of pie set aside as countywide funds to be used at the discretion of the CEO or commissioners. In the end, one district received $21 million on the high end while District Two received zero dollars."

"In the 2006 parks bond fund, no specific district breakdown was included in the official referendum. It was left to the county to decide how to divide the funds. As a result, of the money set aside for parks development and acquisition, the other districts received between $10 to $21 million each while District Two received $2 million."

"The same inequity appears in the allocation of HOST (Homestead Option Sales Tax) dollars. While most of HOST is used for residential property tax relief, a portion is set aside in a countywide fund for infrastructure. Of the latter portion in 2008, the other districts received between $2 to $5 million each while District Two received $500,000."

Read the rest here -

http://www.commissionerrader.com/reader-rader-updates/items/funding-inequity-unacceptable.html

Lindsay said...

Pattie, I take my 2 1/2 year old by the garden every time we go to Brook Run. He's met Farmer Rick, Farmer Bob and Farmer Don. After we get home he likes to talk about the farm and the farmers. We're planting ours in the back yard this weekend so he'll have his own.

The dedication and effort people have put into the garden is exactly why I think we should raise private funds for some of the efforts needed for the other parks. We can use our tax dollars for sidewalks, roads and bike lanes.