Friday, April 29, 2011
City of Dunwoody Update by Councilman Robert Wittenstein
Everywhere I look I see signs of an improving economy. The stock market is up, interest rates are rising, unemployment is falling and in Dunwoody, in April, we issued more permits than we have in any prior month during the city’s existence.
This is obviously great news. This improving picture has caused a new sense of urgency with regard to the acquisition of land for parks and greenspace. As a community we have become accustomed to a pitifully small amount of park space, no matter what standard or metric you use.
We have a closing window of opportunity to acquire under-utilized property and convert it to community use. We have made a big step in that direction by putting the “PVC Farm” next to Georgetown under contract. As I look around Dunwoody I see several other opportunities and I worry that in a year or two we will see many of these picked up by developers and forever off the market as potential greenspace.
To counter-balance this, I am keenly aware of the pull elected officials (including me) feel to DO THINGS—many of which involve spending your money.
Without exception, the mayor and the members of the city council are conservative and we are determined to live within our budget. We can lower our expectations and accept the current small amount of parkland and greenspace or we can decide as a community that land acquisition and development of a parks network is a priority we are willing to fund.
At our May 9th work session we will begin discussing whether we should put a parks and greenspace bond referendum on the ballot in November. We will also discuss whether to put a transportation bond referendum on the ballot. This is an important community discussion. If these items are put on the ballot, it isn’t clear to me which way the voters will go. There is a lot of taxpayer fatigue—which I share. There is also a general feeling of dissatisfaction with government, which I, too, often feel.
A counter-weight to this is a feeling of community spirit in Dunwoody. We have a community that is more willing and able to invest in our community. We have seen our community transformed by a new city government and I think we have a higher level of trust in our new government than many places where the system has become entrenched. It may be now or never.
It is too early to say “here is what it would cost the average family” or “here is what it would provide for the community.” I’ll provide additional information as it becomes available and I’m sure there will be other sources for news as we head towards November. Stay tuned.
Finally, I expect the city council to place on the November ballot a referendum for voter approval to allow Sunday sales of beer and wine in Dunwoody.