Wednesday, January 24, 2007

County Officials Discuss Brook Run Skate Park, Demolition and Lease

Mary Swint
Wednesday, 24 January 2007

A group of North Dunwoody residents complained to the DeKalb Parks Advisory Board on Jan. 23 about the new skate park being built at the Liane Levetan Park at Brook Run and a lack of benches and security.

Earlier, the Board of Commissioners approved demolition of buildings at the park, a former state hospital for the mentally disabled. Commissioners also deferred a vote on a dormitory lease.

Paul Lowry, an engineer who lives near the park, told the Parks Advisory Board about five acres of trees have been clear-cut recently although the EDAW study in 2003 called for a 27,000 square foot skate park.

“The size and scope of the skate park is way beyond the EDAW study,” Lowry said. “My request is to stop the construction and reexamine the plans.” The skate park was supposed to be fit in with the existing treescape but plans have been changed to include stadium lighting, speakers, a new building with rooms for parties and a retail shop, and an additional 200 parking spaces.

Marvin Billups, deputy director of park planning and development, said it was too late to stop the project because a contract has been awarded.

“The scope was determined at a public forum,” he said. The retail operation was included in the EDAW study to reduce expenses. The parking area for the skate park will include 80 to 90 spaces that were left out of the children’s park, Billups said, adding that the park’s theater needs more parking spaces. The speakers will be used for controlling the skaters and the lights will be used at dusk but not at night.

“We have not strayed from the Master Plan,” Billups said. He said the new building will cover the same footprint as an old building that was removed because it would have cost too much to renovate.

John Heneghan, president of the Dunwoody North Civic Association, was not allowed to address the Parks Advisory Board but he gave them a letter and photographs of Brook Run Park. He said the Children’s Adventure Garden needed benches for parents who watch their children play. He also noted the fence on Barclay between the park and Peachtree Middle School needed repairs and a building behind the theater had been vandalized.

Earlier Tuesday, the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners approved a contract for the demolition of five buildings at Brook Run Park for $1,345,950. The structures include the therapy building, the power plant, and three dormitories. The lowest bidder for the project was Dore & Associates Contracting Inc. of Bay City, Michigan. Diversified Environmental Management Inc. of Chamblee was named as a subcontractor for asbestos removal. The term of the contract is 180 days.

At their Jan. 23 meeting, the BOC also voted to postpone its vote on a proposed lease of one dormitory building to Forging New Tomorrows, Inc. (FNT). The non-profit plans to use the building to house U.S.A. Team Handball athletes training for the 2007 Pan American Games and 2008 Olympics.

At a special meeting on Jan. 16 with representatives from Forging New Tomorrows, Inc. (FNT), Audit Committee members Burrell Ellis and Elaine Boyer asked FNT to answer a list of questions about the non-profit’s organization; the status of Team Handball, which has been decertified; sporting events sponsored by FNT; the economic impact of these events on DeKalb; and the number of athletes training at Brook Run and schools they attend. FNT is supposed to provide answers before the committee’s next meeting on Feb. 6. Commissioner Elaine Boyer said on Jan. 24 that she has not received answers yet.

At the BOC meeting, CEO Vernon Jones said the vote on the lease has been deferred for a month and a half. He said he wanted to send the same list of questions to the Spruill Center.

Nevin Lash, a consultant who helped prepare a Master Plan for Brook Run in 2003, said Building 6 marked on a map attached to the proposed lease, has 29,416 square feet and can house 86 people in 39 double rooms and eight single rooms on two floors. Dr. Marc Gutekunst, head of FNT, said about 90 percent of the handball team live in the Atlanta area and only a few athletes may live in the dormitory. The lease sets the rent at $1 per month for up to three years. Housing athletes in the dormitory would not be the highest or best use of the building, Lash said, but it would be compatible with future uses described in the Master Plan. “The ultimate use is to turn it into a day or overnight nature-based summer camp for county children or seniors,” he said.

The county bought the former Brook Run hospital property from the State of Georgia for $5.5 million under an Acquisition Agreement dated Dec 18, 1997 and a Lease/Purchase Agreement dated April 17, 1998.

In the sale, the State set some restrictions on DeKalb’s use of the 102 acres in Dunwoody. One condition said the property may not be sold, leased or licensed without the expressed written consent of the Georgia State Properties Commission and without their consent, any sale, lease or license would be void. The agreement said the county could allow other parties to use the property on a short-term basis, but only as part of the county’s use of the property for parks and recreation purposes, public education purposes or public cultural purposes. Another restriction said no less than 70 percent of the property shall be used as urban green space.

DeKalb paid more than $3.7 million and the State settled a lawsuit brought by DeKalb for the remaining $2.4 million. In the 1997 lawsuit, DeKalb sought to recover more than $30 million from the State collected under DeKalb’s Homestead Option Sales Tax (HOST), according to the April 2001 deed.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

City of Dunwoody - Presentation Available

At today's Annual DHA Meeting the Citizens for Dunwoody Committee made the following presentation.

It appears that legislation could be presented as soon as this week proposing the City of Dunwoody & I thought you should be informed on the information provided.

Friday, January 5, 2007

DHA Annual Meeting - Sun Jan 21

The Dunwoody Homeowners Association Annual Meeting will be held on Sunday, January 21, 2007.

The meeting will run from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM in the Fellowship Hall of Dunwoody United Methodist Church. Dunwoody United Methodist Church is located at 1548 Mt. Vernon Road, Dunwoody, GA 30338. Directions can be found at

Among other agenda items will be a special informational presentation by Citizens for Dunwoody. Citizens for Dunwoody is a non-profit group of Dunwoody citizens who have formed to look at the viability of incorporating Dunwoody into a city. Information about the group can be found at

We strongly encourage everyone to attend. We also welcome residents of the community that are not currently members of the DHA to attend. There will an opportunity for people to join at the meeting.

Happy New Year,

Dunwoody Homeowners Association