Friday, June 10, 2011

Dunwoody Park Plan Changes - Meeting 7 pm Monday @ City Hall

Brook Run could easily hold full size Soccer or Football fields.

Thank you to everybody who wrote me emails on the parks plan, I received quite a few on both sides of the issue and wanted to publicly explain my positions on the matter.

We are developing a 20 year parks master plan that may be implemented faster if the residents approve a parks bond referendum in November for land acquisition and development; but if that isn't approved this parks plan will be implemented slowly in stages, over time, as the city finances allow.   I personally am in favor of some sort of modest bond referendum as I believe now is the time to invest in purchasing park land and developing recreational services, but I am also keenly aware that mandatory tax rates will be raised by the County and others for general operations, but the City of Dunwoody will be asking to raise taxes for the nice to do items as outlined in the parks and transportation plans.  Even if we had the perfect park plan that a great many residents supported, support for the parks bond will be a very tough sell in these economic conditions.  That being said the plan still tries to look at the long term development of a park system so that there is something for everyone in the community and useable green space is accessible to all.

Brook Run as the City's biggest park needs to serve many functions, both passive and active recreation.  It saves the theater and the dorm building in the back, both of which could serve community purposes like a Sr. Center or an annex to the Spruill Center for the Arts.  It provides Dunwoody's first public basketball and sand volleyball courts as well as provides four tennis courts that could handle ALTA play.  It expands the Community Garden and installs numerous walking biking trails through the trees and around the park.  This week we will be discussing the cost / benefit of shade structures over the playground which will allow the playground to be used more comfortably by everyone in the summer. 

I was fully in support of the baseball fields being moved from Dunwoody Park to Brook Run to allow a new north side playground, picnic pavilion and green space area as well as expanded space for the growth of the Dunwoody Nature Center, but it was shown that the old growth tree line would have to be cut into near the stream buffer.  The Lakeview Oaks community below the park was built in a flood plain and has a problem with flooding, therefore that community pleaded with council to change the park plan to save the tree line in order to reduce water runoff.  Several members of council refused to subject these residents to further flooding problems, therefore a compromise plan was drafted to save the tree line but to also flatten back area and terrace the area near the road which would overlook the large playfields that could then be used for numerous recreational activities.

As you see from the drawing above, I have laid a full size football field overtop the right hand side of the field, therefore this area could easily be marked off for various sports activities including soccer, lacrosse, football, rugby, ect.  My suggestions that this be an active area of the park for large group activities has not been well received by all on council but I believe that a compromise of open playable fields may be acceptable in the final version.  With a separate back entrance to this area of the park for easy in and out access, I see this area eventually utilized much like Keswick Park in Chamblee or some of the Dunwoody church fields currently in use on any given Saturday.  Busy and buzzing with league activity, serving everybody from 5 year old biddy soccer, to various city sponsored teen leagues, young adult recreational kickball to adult rugby or other activities that haven't even been thought of yet. 

Dunwoody Park which houses Dunwoody Senior Baseball and the Dunwoody Nature Center would stay exactly like it is until which time as other City park land is brought on line.  The city is close to purchasing 16 acres of park land in Georgetown with knowledge that the Chamblee Middle School and other depressed buildings in the area are prime sites for future park development.

If the bond being proposed for November passes, park development is sped up considerably, if the bond fails, many of the larger plans like moving the ball fields out of Dunwoody Park will be put on hold.  When the current lawsuit against DeKalb County finally is decided in our favor, the money received (approx. $7,000,000) would only be available to be spent at Brook Run, thereby allowing some development of the park master plan at that facility only.

I hope that explains my position on the park plan as it relates to Brook Run and baseball.



Susan said...

How far in the future is planned acquisition of the 3 residential lots on Peeler Rd adjacent to Brook Run? One of those lots is my property, and I have no intention of moving within the next 10 years or so. I only recently learned about this "planned future acquisition" of my land when a random passerby on the street saw me in my yard and stopped to let me know.

peyost said...

John, thanks for clarifying your position. Did the Lakeview Oaks neighborhood present any engineering drawings or scientific proof of any kind that removing those trees would worsen the flooding? I've looked at FEMA drawing from the area and have talked with engineers who agree that removing those trees and putting ball fields there would have absolutely no affect on their flooding problem. The flooding is caused by issues downstream. In fact, there's a GA law that says we can't increase runoff. I'm sure the Lose & Associates engineers knew this when they designed those fields.

So my question is, if you saw conclusive proof that putting ball fields wouldn't affect erosion or flooding, would you change your position and vote to keep the ball fields at Brook Run?

To What End said...

Thank you, John. You are a good man. Let's just leave it at that.

John Heneghan said...

Susan, the planned acquisition of the three residential lots is just a "what could be" scenario over the next twenty years. There are no active plans to either “acquire" your house against your will or I believe will there ever be. Eminent domain is always the last way for the city to obtain property which it absolutely has to have and forcing a sale for recreational purposes is a nonstarter.

Peter, I (along with other members of council) are trying to find the best solution, to serve the most needs of the citizens, to allow for active recreation on the land we have available while at the same time reducing negative affects against the neighbors and the environment. Every park in the Dunwoody plan has been modified or tweaked to reduce negative impacts because doing harm to our own residents is the last thing we want to do. This is a political solution which preserves the old growth trees near the creek and yet provides what you quoted in an email to me as "Green Space with a Purpose". What is not in the formal plan but was what I envisioned for this large flat grren space, is what I will be bringing up for discussion on Monday. I will be formally proposing the addition of the full size multiuse field for soccer, lacrosse, football, etc to be added to the back acreage as my drawing shows, and that change may or may not be supported by a majority of council based on our previous Active vs. Passive uses of our park system.

R said...

Given the economy I vote NO for any further taxes as will a majority of voters.
Dekalb County will be raising taxes to cover their years of drunken spending and corrupt government.

Susan said...

Well that's good to know, John. It was just a little disconcerting to see tennis courts where my house is on the proposed plan. But check back with us in about 10-15 years when the kids are all gone and we're getting ready to (maybe) think about retirement!