Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Are City of Dunwoody residents willing to raise their own taxes for park acquisition and development?
Discussions are starting on the possibility of asking the residents of Dunwoody if they should be able to vote in November on a parks bond referendum that if passed would raise the citizens property taxes to have those funds directed to the purchase and development of Dunwoody's park system.
Talks at the City Retreat were very preliminary and will continue at upcoming city council meetings as the Parks Master Plan is presented and vetted. In order for a bond referendum to be presented in November, there is much work to be done prior to Council setting the parameters and the amount of such a bond therefore nothing will be decided overnight but now is a good time to start being involved if you have strong feelings one way or another on what should be going forward.
I personally see both "Opportunities" and "Challenges" in the idea of a bond referendum but Council's job in the next few months will be to determine the needs of the community, set the funding amount to meet those needs and then step back to allow the residents to vote it up or down.
Opportunities: The funds collected would be spent locally within Dunwoody and done so rather quickly whereby the residents will be able to enjoy the long term park infrastructure improvements even though they will be funded over the next 20 years. The funds could be used to acquire green space in the Village and Georgetown areas that could possibly fuel developments that might be favorable and in line with the proposed long range development plans. Property prices are at their lowest levels in years, large development tracts that are currently in foreclosure could be purchased for quarters on the dollar over prices of just several years ago. This bond could be looked at as a long term investment in the community to remove future residential development tracts in areas that are already over saturated with excess housing, thereby converting the land to uses for the residents who already live within the community. Park development is a long term, quality of life investment in our community which if done properly will provide value in serving the residents recreation and social needs as well as adding long term economic value to the community.
Challenges: The economy is very tough for many residents who may not be able to afford much of an increase for parks, let alone the possibility of tax increases by the County and the School System. Questions will arise as the specific amount of the bond as well as the specific uses that it will be intended to be directed toward. Though I believe residents would have faith in the city leaders to follow through on the speedy implementation of the bond improvements, we unfortunately will need to overcome past DeKalb County history and citizen biases against bond referendums because all we have seen in past years by the county are promises made and promises unfulfilled.
Council may be in the starting stages of framing the discussion, but in the end; the residents will be making the final decision on this matter. Please stay involved in the parks process and below are several articles on the subject posted by the Crier and the Patch. The next City Council meeting is Tuesday February 15th at 7 pm.
Dunwoody Crier Article - Dunwoody Patch Article