Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Jammed Greenway Meeting fills Dunwoody City Council Chambers


A special meeting to discuss proposed greenways took place Monday night at 7:30 at City Hall. My sons fifth grade geometry homework held my attention until the last second then I raced off to attend the meeting. When I arrived promptly at 7:30 the main parking lot was 95% filled whereby I had to hunt for a parking spot which I finally found on the edge of the lot. The line to get into the council chambers wrapped past the elevators and several citizens departed as I entered stating that they couldn't get into the the already packed chambers. After several minutes of waiting, I decided that I needed to be in attendance therefore I asked the Officer working the door if he could let me in the back council entrance, available by way of the police station.

When I entered the room, it was jammed with wall to wall people, many of whom were there to give public comment and were then angry to hear that public oral comment would not be part of the meeting. Warren Hutmacher the City Manager gave a quick presentation as to the 10,000 foot level of the greenway idea that was then interrupted a few times as residents poked fun at the slides or tossed in off hand remarks. Warren handled it well under adverse conditions. Then various maps and poster boards were put up for either red or green stickers to identify the feelings of the community and though I spent most the evening talking to people in the room, I believe Red was the preferred color of the evening.

Above is the photo of the map showing the powerline at Kingsley Lake with the Kingsley Swim Tennis shown at the middle left. The Red properties are homeowners who do not want the greenway to be forcefully placed on their property and/or are against the project coming on their land.

I believe that tonight was a eye opening experience for the Mayor and Dunwoody City Council whereby the public openly voiced their concerns with having a proposed public greenway on private citizens property when the citizens themselves don't want the project to move forward. Based on previous city correspondence, the City Parks Master Plan could be voted up or down on March 28th therefore it would be a Council discussion item scheduled for Monday, March 14th.  My guess is that all greenways affecting private property may be removed prior to final adoption of the Parks Master Plan and that this discussion would take place on the 14th.  There is also a chance that this could be an item for discussion this coming Monday Feb 28th but based on the last marathon work session it already appears that there are quite a few items on this voting agenda. 

For those who were unable to make oral public comment tonight, Monday's City Council meeting will have public comment time available on the agenda.

PS, please note that I believe the North South greenway that splits the word Dunwoody in the photo below follows the creek, therefore private property would also affected there, as well as the powerline too.  At the last meeting, the Mayor asked for an inventory of the proposed greenways as it affects private property and I believe this topic will be heavily discussed and considered by council before moving forward.

25 comments:

John Heneghan said...

Rick Callihan over at the Dunwoody Talk Blog has a nice recap with lots of photos and even a short video clip.

http://dunwoodytalk.blogspot.com/2011/02/green-way-discussion-at-dunwoody-city.html

John Heneghan said...

Dunwoody Patch article.

http://dunwoody.patch.com/articles/greenway-trails-proposals-draw-big-opposition

christy said...

Part 1:

Lets all remind ourselves that 2 years ago this side of town was also told it would be a great idea to allow a 2 story liquor store in the area. We actually had to remind city council that we were in fact a part of Dunwoody and wanted the same respect they would give themselves on the good side of town. Now we are being told for the good of everyone; we in the lowly Dorwoody area should give up property rights for the luxury of higher property taxes and less privacy. This again seems to be a case of the old analogy of one man's trash is another man's treasure. What some see as hard to sell, lower priced houses under death causing power lines. Others see as guaranteed privacy due to the power lines themselves, moderate property taxes, and less traffic. Despite all the sugar coating about this issue, plenty of facts are not being taken into consideration for the long term. Here is just a few off the top of my head:

#1 the taking of private property by the city for the good of everyone. This is a mayor who did not want his own backyard view obstructed by neighbors building a deck. I for one, do not want my tax monies going to bully other members of the community out of their properties. Higher property values equals higher property taxes. So for long term residents of the area this is not really an incentive. Also if Zillow is any indication the properties in question seem to be pretty much in line with the rest of their neighborhoods in property value for the area.

#2 Security. Plain and simple this will increase crime in the area. From car break ins, to robbery, to even rape and murder; yes these things do happen on walking trails. It is the false feeling of security on walking/biking trails that make them an easy target (Jennifer Ewing's rape and murder on the Silver Comet trail) for crime. Goggle any trail and put the word crime after it (every one Joe Seconder lists in fact has crime on it and around it due to the trails including attacks and a rape in Suwanee) for some quick results. So on that note, Dunwoody will be forced to provide security to the trail and the parking lots. How much is that cost? Will we depend solely on the police or we will hire private security to walk the trail? Also how will we keep people off of it? Will there be times when it's opened or can people be walking it at oh say 3AM?

#3 Restrooms & Sanitation. Will restrooms be provided at some point along the trail? If so, who will police and not to mention clean these? Will we hire janitorial crews for them as well as trash pick up along the trail? Guess we'll also be buying some special small trash vehicles like Decatur has for that as well. Again how we will keep people out of these places at night when the trail is closed? Or can anyone looking for a 3 A.M. hook-up cruise the trail and bathrooms? How much will all this cost over the long run?

#4 Lighting. No matter how small the piece of land you are trying to muscle out of property owners; the fact of light pollution is still not being mentioned. The trail will have to be lit, most likely 24/7 for safety purposes. Even if closed at some hours in the middle of the night, the lights will still have to be on. So on top of forcing home owners to accept people walking on what used to be their property, the constant noise of people and mowers; they must also accept light pollution 24/7. Just how much will constant lighting, security and sanitation cost per year to the city for a so-called FREE walking trail?

christy said...

Part2:

All these are questions that need answering, but the sad part is most cannot be answered now in a real factual way and were not even on the cities radar to begin with. There are to many personal egos and interests vested in this and most city issues to get real answers or facts. I also find it very amusing that one of the main people pushing for this is Joe Seconder. Joe, you were the first one to sign a "No New Drive Throughs In Dunwoody" petition (http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/no-dunwoody-drive-thrus/signatures) because you felt it would have negatively affected your area of town. Lets everyone note that it would not have affected you personally; not your backyard, or your property nor even your property value. The Chic-Fil-A would have actually been around the corner from your home and you found that unacceptable. Yet you have no problem now in using your expertise as a "pre-selling consultant" to make every possible sales pitch to force the city to take peoples backyards for the good of the community! As many have already asked, just who are you being paid by to push this issue so hard?

Even more hysterical is how the people pushing in favor of this issue keep talking about the evil power lines and the insinuations that living near them is unhealthy. Why is it then that of all places in the city you would want to build a greenway directly beneath these so called death causing power lines?!? Wouldn't you all be better off exercising and walking in a more healthier area of your own neighborhoods if you are so worried about the effects of the power lines on the property owners? Your arguments (like this idea) makes no sense!

Lizzie said...

I would love to have a trail system, but not if eminent domain is any part of it, and I don't live in the areas that would be affected. You cannot emulate a Peachtree City "trail" system because it should have been in the planning stages when homes were built. In my opinion, it's not something you can build "into" a city.

Robespierre said...

I attended the Greenway Meeting and I am so sad to say that not even at drunken fraternity parties have I ever witnessed such rude, greedy, piggish behavior.

I'm tempted to edit my video taken of the meeting and post it on youTube in order that the world may witness as well that the residents of our city are of no more quality than the spoiled teens from MTV's "My Sweet Sixteen" show.

We really have to be better than the absence of character that was displayed at that meeting. I am really embarrassed to say I hail from Dunwoody anymore.

That meeting had nothing to do with exercising our democratic rights. It was just boorish behavior with people shouting about ME ME ME! We are not a community but a bunch of Paris Hilton clones.

John Heneghan said...

AJC reporter called, we talked for a quite a bit and it's funny to see the choice of quote taken out of a 15 min conversation.

Dunwoody officials, residents tangle over greenway plans

Sara said...

It's always interesting to see what reporters and journalists take from a conversation. This article- not bad, but the fact that he says it's a 6 mile stretch of undeveloped land? Seriously- it's mostly made up of private backyards. Of course it's not developed!! Gotta love journalism! (enter sarcasm...)

Robespierre said...

What I had wanted to express at the greenway meeting was that I really believe that those homeowners that border the power-line easements should reconsider the greenway trail proposal.

When we were looking for homes in this area, we avoided the houses that bordered the power-lines as we had young children.

But I would think that having a trail that winds it way under and by the power-lines with other community children trekking on it would make the overhead high-voltage towers and lines seem less nocuous or insidious and would maybe even improve the property value of the bordering homes and increase their chances of a resell. So much so that it would outweigh what little bit of their land that they would have to give up to accommodate the establishment of the trail.

SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

Robespierre-

"What little bit of land"??

Take a close look at some of those maps. The greenway would take A FULL HALF of many properties.

IMHO, I don't blame these people for being upset.

What makes it worse is when comments get posted that imply that having your land cut in half is "really not all that much". If someone doesn't want to sell (or have the city confiscate it) then they don't want to sell and no one has the right to force them into it. Saying that these people aren't losing anything (just like saying that crime isn't a concern, even though some have stated they have been crime victims) isn't going to change their minds. In fact, they'll just dig in their heels.

Robespierre said...

Our greatest president Ronald Reagan said,

"It doesn't do good to open doors for someone who doesn't have the price to get in. If he has the price, he may not need the laws. There is no law saying that someone has to live in Harlem or Watts."

No one told these people to purchase land by the power-lines. If the power-line easements are better suited to be used for a trail by those of us who do have the price to get in, then it should be so.

Dunwoody should be for the benefit (within the law) of those who can afford it. Might be a cold fact, but that is how capitalism works, and if we hadn't strayed from these ideals then we wouldn't be in the mess we are in today.

I was just trying to advise these people that by allowing the trail under the high-voltage lines they could improve their property value.

Duxxs3000 said...

Hey Robespierre, are you kidding me?I bought my house for several reasons and one was for the large backyard.I just spent over thirty five thousand dollars putting in a swimming pool.My wife and I work our asses off the have the finer things in life so I'm sorry that I don't care to donate or sell half my backyard for people to have a path to walk around me all week long.I make and have plenty of money so I don't need yours or the city's.I guarantee my home and property is a hell of a lot nicer than yours.You must be one of those that think your rich and really your piss poor.How insulting of you to insuate that the reason people live under the power lines is because they can't afford anything better.That comment alone makes you the most pompas and insensitive person in Dunwoody so why would I want people like you walking through my backyard.What makes you so much better than anyone else and if your property is so nice why the hell do you need mine to take walks on.In case you don't know there is a park called Brook Run why don't you take your stuck up tail over there for a walk.

Robespierre said...

I'm really sorry. I don't think you understood me. When they enacted eminent domain to build the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway they didn't tear up the wealthier residential neighborhoods. Just as if they wanted to build a crosstown expressway in Atlanta, they wouldn't condemn the homes or land in Buckhead or the ones on Spaulding in Dunwoody.

I apologize for the misunderstanding and that I did not make myself clear initially.

Robespierre said...

Also if the majority of people, not just the people that border the easement, are set against it, then of course we shouldn't go through with it.

SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

John--
In the past few weeks, people have expressed in your blog comments that:
1) District 3 should not be in the same zip code as the rest of Dunwoody because our home values will bring theirs down
2) The properties in District 3 are expendible for the sake of a walking trail, because they're (allegedly) not as wealthy as other parts of town

This isn't counting the folks at Kingsley CES who complain about getting the short end of the stick when redistricting and other resource allocations come up.

Also not including that "Harry Pothole" has been on Tilly Mill at least 3 times to do his Pothole Patrol report.

District 3 is really getting treated like a stepchild over here. As our representative, what are you going to do about it?

John Heneghan said...

Adrienne, I am slightly offended by your comment as I work very, very hard to equally represent all the residents of the City of Dunwoody. As a computer professional who develops websites and has her own blog, you are aware of both the pros and cons of me allowing open non-moderated comments from anyone willing to post. I do this to allow open uncensored discussion and grant the easiest form of public feedback available to the community. As I am sure you have noticed from time to time, anonymous crackpots (or the same one under different names) have the tendency to stir the pot with radical propaganda to raise reactions from other readers. I believe this is the case in several of your points above.

As I have said many times before my priority is to strengthen and improve the entire City while at the same time making us a more cohesive community. I proposed and defend the zip code item, I have voiced grave concerns with the greenway along the power line (which affects all three districts), am pushing for sidewalks (or even a tree lined multiuse path) on Happy Hallow and besides the many things you read about on this blog or in the Crier, I regularly assist residents and/or affect changes within District Three on a regular basis but don't have the time nor the need to give you a daily blow by blow of what I do.

As a Chesnut parent, I haven’t heard the complaints from Kingsley parents on the redistricting and even if I did, I and the City Council have no authority to influence the details of the matter. The council did get involved to do a resolution asking that all Dunwoody residents remain in the Dunwoody Cluster but that was a city wide issue and not setting individual school boundaries. I agree with you that Tilly Mill has issues and that is the reason that it is on the list to be repaved but the worst part of Tilly Mill (South of Binghampton Drive) is actually in the City of Doraville. I have reached out to Mayor Pro Tem (now Acting Mayor) Donna Pittman to do a joint paving project for all of Tilly Mill down to PTIB and they are looking at the budget or a Joint LARP project to make it happen.

District Three has the same representation within the City of Dunwoody as the other two districts whereby we have two representatives who live within the district (myself & Doug Thompson) and then there are four at large representatives (Mayor, myself, Wittenstein & Ross) who are elected city wide and therefore represent District Three. This November all four positions are up for reelection so please voice your concerns to the Council as a whole and then if not satisfied please do something about it come November. Thanks. John

SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

John--
Now that I have your attention....
;-)

I read in another article (Blog? Patch? Crier? Can't remember) that someone approached Danny Ross with a similar sense (being unhappy with a current situation) and the report was the same - Mr. Ross was offended at the comment and reported working hard.

Comments like that are expressions to be taken into account, not declarations of war.

You were frustrated when you saw my comments, right? So am I - and your response tells me you have an idea how I feel.

It's not possible for those of us not in office to see everything that goes on, though you do more than most. Some things are in private session by law and your perspective is different. Got it.

I'd like to see discussions "for the betterment of the community" be handled in such a way that we don't get splintered, either online or at City Hall. One wrong word, one assumption slightly off the beaten path and we're at each others' throats. Dunwoody is still young, the memories of government disregarding people for the interests of a few are still fresh. There's going to be defensiveness and fatigue and frustration. (Like where I'm at right now, ditto others you've seen posting around.) There's even suspicion over whether Dunwoody will go down that path. Neither of us wants that but what will it take to prevent it?

So, bottom line: from my office chair, the progress Dunwoody is working for in your district is not as readily apparent to me as it may be to you. I'm frustrated by that. It is difficult not to wonder if other districts are taking priority on their needs. You and Doug are two people on a council of seven, it's not impossible that your district's priorities could be overruled on one vote or another.

IMHO, (as usual everything is MHO) I don't think my comments are any more intense or out-of-line than anyone else's here. I have never posted anything in any public space for the purpose of offending for offense's sake. Especially when talking about the city. As you pointed out, some of the characters giving your blog "atmosphere" think differently. I don't want you or anyone else to be offended but would you rather get sugar-coating instead? I don't think so. ;-)

NellieWoodson said...

Well, sometimes a few ironists or if you want to call them "crackpots" stirring the pot is what is necessary and turn-about is fair play when former State Representatives, former DeKalb County School representatives, former CEO of DeKalb County Board of the Commissioners, former DeKalb County Firefighters, DeKalb County School teachers, sitting City Councilpersons, and former City Council candidates, or ordinary citizens, and even the respective host of this blog, are called everything in the book from liars to being selfish or adulterers and cowards in local blogs, by commenters in those blogs, and local city newspapers just because persons didn't like that they wanted to implement a city trail, use more of the county's monies for the more deprived areas of the county, coordinate a holiday music program that didn't fit with the majority of the rest of Dunwoody's racial make-up, try to do a good job for ALL of the county's students, bravely face fires, etc, or the greatest crime of all: not thinking that the the incorporation of Dunwoody into a city was such wise decision.

Sometimes a good edged ironist stirring the pot is what is required for people to see just what is really is important in life and that their own motives might have been a bit petty or rapacious. What would our nation do without the likes of the great satirists such as Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Roy Blount, Jr., Al Capp, or Lewis Grizzard?

John Heneghan said...

John has no idea that I am signed on under his address.... He left it open... BAD move... Ha!! Ha!! ... Anyway, as John's wife and co-hort, I want EVERYONE out in blog world to know how hard he works for his district and city as a whole! He takes off from his real job (you know, the one that pays the bills) more time than he does for family events! He stays up until 2 am on a regular basis either researching items that affects the city/district or updating his blog to have full transparency to his readers. I have NEVER known him to not answer every e-mail that comes to him with a question or comment...and he gets A LOT!! To say this is a passion of his, would be an understatement! It irks me (to be honest) sometimes to see him on the computer with city things and NOT out with his kids enjoying a beautiful day... but he IS VERY passionate and that is what made me fall in love him 15 years ago.

I am sure all the council works hard...those that are on the council are NOT there for the money or glory, but to make their community a better place to live for their families and have fond memories of living in Dunwoody. There is no where in the world I would rather live than our neighborhood of Dunwoody North.

So, I know there are many out in blog world that knows how hard he works, but I just want you to know from his wife and our kids dad... he spends about 6 hours A DAY on city items...that is dedication!! So, when you see or email him... just say thanks and tell him to get out and play with us!!! Ha!! Ha!!

DunwoodyTalk said...

Aside from the people actually being paid to be there, I think I attend more council meetings than nearly anyone else in the city. Without a doubt, John has the residents of Dunwoody in mind on every vote he takes.

If we were forced to pick one person to make all the decisions for Dunwoody I would not hesitate to nominate John. John is unselfish and extremely dedicated to the city, regardless of the issue. He has no ax to grind and not looking for self-promotion.

Quite simply, he is the ideal public servant.

At every meeting there is a public comment segment. You can say what you want to all the council folks, face to face. You have three minutes at the beginning, and you can have three more at the end of a meeting.

knitternall said...

There's a clear line between expressing disagreement (debate) and strident posting. John is one of the most pragmatic and open political officeholders I've ever met. This blog has done more to create transparency in our local government than any other forum (local newspaper) ever could. I value what John does and the fact that he respects this community enough to let all of us voice an opinion.

NellieWoodson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NellieWoodson said...

It is really a shame if John does spend six hours a day as a public servant in a community where the majority of the people are of the silver-spoon rapacious white middle-class entitled ilk, who take the words "public servant" literally and treat their councilmen, mayor, police, fire department, sanitation workers, street maintenance, etc. as though they were their "servants" even with the small pittance they are all paid.

A great man like John would be better off sharing his talents and diligence with more deserving and grateful people and not the likes of those that jammed the greenway meeting. It was very reminiscent of the tea party thugs that I witnessed attending the health care town hall meetings.

Site Admin said...

"...the great satirists such as Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Roy Blount, Jr., Al Capp, or Lewis Grizzard?"

Oh dear. Isn't including Roy Blount in this group a bit like lumping Viktor Frankl in with Dr. Phil, and Niles and Frazier Crane?

NellieWoodson said...

Actually Roy Blount, Jr is the least, ingenuity-wise, of the brilliant satirists I mentioned, and I was even thinking of not including him, especially with his latest edacious deed -

"On 24 February 2009, Blount wrote an op-ed article explaining the Authors Guild's position demanding extra royalties from the text-to-speech functionality of the Amazon Kindle. To criticism from the American National Federation of the Blind, he replied that free audio availability of copyright works to the blind is provided for
automatically by American copyright laws. To the criticism that the Kindle's functionality is equivalent to parents reading aloud to their children, he said that, 'the Authors Guild does not expect royalties from anybody doing non-commercial performances of 'Goodnight Moon'. If parents want to send their children off to bed with the voice of Kindle 2, however, it’s another matter.'"