Friday, October 1, 2010

Dunwoody update from Councilman Robert Wittenstein

Dear Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,

There is a lot going on in Dunwoody, all of it good.

We have begun work on master redevelopment plans for Georgetown and Dunwoody Village.   Both of these are aging 1970’s strip shopping centers and will be ripe for redevelopment in a few years once the economy recovers.  Keeping in mind that we don’t own the property in these commercial centers, this process allows us to develop a community vision outlining what we would like to see.  We can then present this to the property owners and say, “if you build this, we will streamline approval.”  It is an exciting process and it challenges us to think creatively about what we would like Dunwoody to be like in ten or twenty years. You can find out more, and provide input online, at these two links: Dunwoody Village and Georgetown.

We are deep in the budget process for 2011. We are not planning a tax increase for either homeowners or businesses. This will be the first year in which we have all of our revenue sources in place and we will have completed most of the expense associated with our city’s start-up. These numbers could change because we are still discussing the budget but it looks like we will invest $1.8 million in repaving (up from $750,000 this year), $350,000 in constructing new sidewalks (up from $170,000 this year) and an additional $200,000 in engineering studies to improve problem intersections (actual construction to be budgeted in 2012).

The biggest item for discussion is whether or not to expand the police department by ten percent with the creation of a new four-person unit focused just on traffic enforcement. This plan would ratchet-up the number officers enforcing our traffic laws and issuing citations  It would also free up other officers to focus on crime and crime prevention.  

Mayor Ken Wright gave a speech earlier this month at the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce annual dinner and challenged us all to start a dialog on parks. We are horribly underserved when it comes to greenspace. We have Brook Run, which remains largely undeveloped, and the Dunwoody Nature Center/Dunwoody Park ball fields—and that is about it.  Our annual budget can provide operational expenses and very modest improvements to our existing parks. However, if we want to create new parks, develop Brook Run, create walking and biking trails and greenways it will require a commitment from Dunwoody residents and commercial property owners. That commitment would be in the form of a parks bond issue.

There are quite a few pieces of property available today at bargain prices because of the economy. We may have an opportunity to transform Dunwoody into a place rich in parks and trails. We can also develop and enhance Brook Run, the Dunwoody Nature Center, the Donaldson-Bannister House and the North DeKalb Cultural Arts Center.

No one is talking about putting a bond referendum on the ballot in 2011, but we may want to engage in a discussion and perhaps move towards a voter referendum sometime in 2012 or 2013. Long before that, we will have public forums and develop ways for residents to provide their thoughts. We have started the process of putting together a long-term parks master plan which will help us see where we are and will allow us to look at what we may (or may not) want to implement.  This is not something that will be decided by me, the mayor, or the city council; this would be something decided by the voters of Dunwoody.



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