Saturday, July 28, 2007

Skate Park is now officially open.

To the skaters who are directing a certain amount of anger at me & this board, there is no reason to do so. The park is built & not going away.

My neighbors & I have expressed numerous frustrations at the operational policies of Brook Run Park for years (just look at the website) and the skate park is just the most recent. We will remain involved in all aspects of operations at Brook Run to insure that the park and the community can coexist in harmony.

With your help that can be achievable.

Now for the serious question. Can someone please recommend the right board for a 6 foot 5, 245 lb novice skateboarder? I plan to buy it at Woody's so if they carry something suitable there for me, please let me know.



Friday, July 27, 2007

Brook Run opens, now largest skate park in Ga.

The AJC Published on: 07/27/07

At 27,000 square feet, Brook Run Skate Park is expected to open Saturday in Dunwoody as the largest public facility of its kind in Georgia. (The Factory Skatepark in Newnan, and Woodward Skate Park at Discover Mill in Gwinnett, are privately owned operations with more than 34,000 square feet each.)

Brook Run, is unique among Georgia's public skate parks because users must pay a fee, wear a helmet and sign a liability waiver.

Here is a comparison of some public skate parks around Metro Atlanta:

Brook Run Skate Park
4770 North Peachtree Road, Dunwoody
Operated by: DeKalb County Parks & Recreation
Helmets / pads: Required / recommended
Fee: Daily — Youth: $3 (DeKalb Resident), $5 (non-resident); Adult: $4 (resident), $6 (non-resident)
Hours: May-August: 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday; Noon-10:30 p.m. Sunday; September-April: 3-10 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Saturday; Noon-10:30 p.m. Sunday
Lights / music provided: Yes / Yes
Bikes: BMX bikes allowed (without pegs).
Liability waiver: Required (those under 18 must have parent or guardian sign, too).
Size: 27,000 square feet.
Features: 12-foot "pool" area, streetscape area with steps, grind rails, ramps and boxes, "flow bowl" area with concaved clamshell feature

Skatepark of Athens
4440 Lexington Road, Athens
Operated by: Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services
Helmets / pads: Required / recommended
Fee: No
Hours: Sun-up to sundown
Lights / music provided: No / No
Bikes: BMX bikes allowed (without pegs), rollerblades allowed
Liability waiver: No
Size: 14,000 square feet
Features: Streetscape with steps, ramps, grinding edges and rails, and a 4,500 square foot flow bowl

McKoy Park
534 McKoy Street, Decatur
Operated by: City of Decatur Recreation and Community Services
Helmets/pads: Recommended
Fee: No
Hours: 7 a.m. — dusk
Lights / music provided: Yes / no
Bikes: No
Liability waiver: No
Size: 4,750 square feet
Features: old tennis court with metal 5 ramps donated; 2 spines, a pyramid, a grind rail and grind box, 1 breaker

Pinkneyville Park
4758 South Old Peachtree Road, Norcross
Operated by: Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation
Helmets/pads: Recommended
Fee: NoHours: Sun-up — 11 p.m.
Lights / music provided: Yes / No
Bikes: No
Liability waiver: No
Size: 9,500 square feet
Features: 2 connected bowls, a plaza/streetscape with grinding rails, and a box ramp in the center of the park

Ronald Reagan Park
2777 Five Forks Trickum Road, Lawrenceville
Operated by: Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation
Helmets/pads: Recommended
Fee: No
Hours: Sun-up — sunset
Lights / music provided: No / No
Bikes: No
Liability waiver: No
Size: 4,500 square feet
Features: Plaza/streetscape with grinding rails, and a box ramp in the center of the park

DeShong Park (opens Aug. 11)
2859 North DeShong Road, Stone Mountain
Operated by: Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation
Helmets/pads: Recommended
Fee: No
Hours: Sun-up to sunset
Lights / music provided: No / No
Bikes: No
Waiver: No
Size: 10,000 square feet
Features: Streetscape with stairs and grinding rails

Mountain Park Park (opens end of summer 2007)
5050 Five Forks Trickum Road, Lilburn
Jurisdiction: Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation
Helmets/pads: Recommended
Fee: No
Hours: Sun-up to sunset
Lights / music provided: No / No
Bikes: No
Waiver: No
Size: 8,500 square feet
Features: 10-foot deep bowl, 6-foot half pipe, 6-foot volcano ramp

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Skate park built at residents' expense - AJC Editorial

CityLife Opinions: Skate park built at residents' expense

By John Heneghan
For the Journal-Constitution
Published on: 07/26/07

DeKalb County is about to open Georgia's premier skate park at Brook Run Park in Dunwoody, just three blocks from my home. As the father of three young boys, you would think that I would be ecstatic over this type of attraction being so close. Well, I'm not. You see, I am also president of my subdivision's homeowners association. Residents of our neighborhood have witnessed the clear-cutting of more than five acres of aged hardwoods to allow for construction of the attraction.

Now that it is here, we must endure bright lights and music blaring through speakers until 10:30 p.m., seven nights a week.

Four years ago, a 16-point comprehensive master plan was developed for the park. One of the suggestions was a skate park for teenagers and post-playground kids. The park, according to the plan, would be sculpted to fit the existing topography and wooded areas.

Instead, the largest, most technical skate park in the Southeast with professional-grade attributes stands where a huge grove of trees once stood.

You see, DeKalb County wants this $2.1 million attraction to generate revenue for other parts of the county. So when the county reviewed the small skate parks in Decatur, Gwinnett and Athens (none of which have lights, staff, remain open after dark or charge a fee), they decided to go much bigger, charge admission and maximize revenue by adding lights to extend the hours so this facility could "produce" revenue.

The immediate residential neighborhoods surrounding the park did not ask for Georgia's biggest commercial skate park to be installed, but it was, and we certainly did not ask for it to be open so late.

I met with Commissioners Elaine Boyer and Kathie Gannon who, after visiting the park, agreed that hours should be rolled back and additional trees planted to re-establish a visual screen from Peeler Road.

Supposedly, these two commissioners convinced several upper levels of DeKalb management of the mistake being made with the extended hours of operation. Boyer made a formal request to CEO Vernon Jones for an official modification of the proposed hours of operation. Unfortunately, in spite of what the commissioners' recommendations were, the request was denied.

It would appear that Jones is no longer acting in the best interest of ALL DeKalb residents. If he were, he would have recognized the flawed policies instituted by the parks department and followed the recommendations of the commissioners elected to speak for us. Instead, Jones is a candidate for the U.S. Senate first and foremost. It would appear he is using the operational policies of this Dunwoody skate park to make a statement to his other DeKalb constituents hoping to gain some warped sense of political favoritism from this matter.

Ironically, Jones is campaigning on the improved "quality of life" platform in DeKalb. Funny, I never thought lower property values meant improvement.

Heneghan is president of Dunwoody North Civic Association.

Monday, July 16, 2007

DeKalb Responds To Brook Run Criticism

Mary Swint
Friday, 15 June 2007

DeKalb County Parks and Recreation Department began demolition of the old hospital at the Liane Levetan Park at Brook Run in Dunwoody on June 15, two days after a crowd of residents complained about mismanagement of the park during a Bond Advisory Council meeting at Brook Run on June 13.

“We are proud to see improvements of our parks underway,” CEO Vernon Jones said Friday morning. “We are committed to our children and keeping our park facilities updated and the demolition of the hospital is a part of that plan.”

DeKalb County purchased from the state in 1998 the old Brook Run hospital and nursing home that were formerly used to treat mentally ill patients. In January 2001, DeKalb County awarded a $150,000 grant to the Dunwoody Preservation Trust to develop a master plan for the property. Later the county committed $11.5 million in park bond revenue for improvements to the park. The neighborhood and county park officials disagree over whether the community was involved in plans for the park.

About 30 community members protested on June 13 the county’s plans to operate a large new skate park until 10:30 p.m. every night at the park in a residential neighborhood and across from a church. They also complained about the size and noise of the skate park, which is expected to open sometime between June 21 and early July.

John Heneghan, president of the Dunwoody North Civic Association, said the community was also concerned about a lack of security at the 102-acre park, which is patrolled by one contract officer. Other community concerns were a lack of communications from the Parks Department about the fees for the skate park, a lack of benches in the shade at the children’s park, a problem with the creek and the clear cutting of trees on five acres.

State Rep. Fran Millar, DeKalb Commissioner Jeff Rader and Dan Magee from the Parks Citizens Advisory Committee attended the meeting held near the children’s park at Brook Run.
Earlier in the week, Parks Director Marilyn Boyd Drew responded to Dunwoody resident Paul Lowry’s questions about Brook Run, which he had sent her on May 24 after being told he could not raise the questions at a meeting with the parks department.

In her letter dated June 11, Drew said, “Much of the landscape material will be lost due to the final grading plan. The demolition of the hospital and power plant will leave a very deep hole in the ground. The final grade will be resolved by a cut and fill method to reduce the amount of dirt to be hauled into the site. Thus, many of the plants will be destroyed. The abatement/demolition contract was awarded on January 23, 2007 and the notice to proceed was issued with a start date of March 15, 2007. The contracted period is 180 days, and the ending date is September 2007. We will not be placing any orange fencing around the trees as the significant trees are outside of the Construction area.”

“The park plan is being confused with the master plan,” Drew said. “The plan for the skate park was determined with input from the public. Until the design charrette was completed, the plan for the skate park did not exist. The final plan did include a speaker system for managerial control and entertainment. Lights were also part of the final plan, thus the development is following the adopted plan. The construction documents were reviewed and approved by the County's Planning and Development Department and all zoning buffer issues regarding the facility within the park were approved. The building was designed to handle a number of activities for small event rental, as well as food and beverage concessions,” She added, “Hours have not yet been determined.”

Lowry and others are concerned the skate park will become a regional attraction in their neighborhood.

In response to Lowry’s question about marketing plans for the skate park, Drew said in her letter, “The facility will be marketed in the same manner as we do with the swimming pools, recreation centers, golf courses and tennis facilities. We depend on fliers, public service announcements, press releases, DCTV. Citizens of DeKalb County between the ages of 8 and 45 are the target population. We anticipate patrons will come from the metro Atlanta area. The department will recommend resident and non-resident user fees. The actual cost has not been determined. We are not comfortable making predictions on attendance at this time; however, we will implement a managerial plan that is flexible enough to manage the attendance peaks just as we manage them at other Park and Recreation facilities.”

Lowry asked the Parks Department about future plans for more tree cutting in the park.

Drew responded, “We do not have plans at this time to fell additional trees, other than to remove those that may pose safety concerns; e.g., severely leaning, dead or diseased trees. The trees you mentioned that are flagged may have been the result of survey crews marking the location of trees for their engineered site survey plans. We will investigate further to confirm. Flagging will be removed by the end of June.”

“What is the plan for the maintenance facility and equipment space requirements?” Lowry asked park officials. “There are many trucks, equipment and material now stored in the park on hard courts, parking lots, fields, etc. There has been much trash including broken beer bottles in that area.”

Drew replied, “The plan is to continue to operate the North area maintenance facility at Brook Run. We are investigating options for screening the equipment from view by path users in other areas of the park. Debris found in and around the maintenance facility will be removed daily.”

In response to Lowry’s question about plans for walking trails, Drew said, “Walking trails in the park remains a high priority. We will determine the exact layout at a later date.”

Regarding security and public safety at the park, Drew said, “Security has and will continue to be addressed by a Security Guard, currently assigned 24 hours a day, seven days a week as well as the North Precinct, which patrols Brook Run as part of their overall community policing program. Parks and Recreation has met on-site with staff from the North Precinct relative to the upcoming opening of the Skate Park to familiarize them with the facility and to request input from them on overall park and facility security. Adjustments will be made as deemed necessary.”

Lowry also asked Drew about trash pick-up in the park along Peeler Road.

“Additional trash receptacles will be placed in the park by the end of June,” Drew responded. “Trash pick-up along the perimeter of the park will take place weekly. Maintenance of the right-of-way along Peeler Road is the responsibility of the Sanitation Department. We will contact Sanitation to initiate a coordinated effort to maintain the area.”

Lowry asked about some walking trails next to the dog park being fenced off and the dog park being moved due to complaints about the barking.

Drew replied, “The department was made to leave the area closed as walkers with dogs on a leash continued to use the trail and the dogs in the homes continued to bark. This area will remain fenced off. Walkers will have to exit that leg of the trail at the dog park and utilize the sidewalks along the roadway.”

Accounting of 11.5 Million, Shade/Benches, Speed

Dear Mr. Billups,

I attended the DeKalb Park’s meeting of July 12th at the Mason Mill Recreation Center and I enjoyed my conversations with you & Commissioners Gannon and Rader. I will not be able to attend this evenings meeting at the Lynwood Recreation Center but a number of my residents will be in attendance. Since there was no time allotted for public comment aside from the charrette process; I presented you with a written copy of my planned remarks discussing four concerns that I have regarding Brook Run Park.

I also asked yourself & the EDAW representative if it would be possible to obtain an electronic version of the complete 50+ page color document created by EDAW outlining the Masterplan for Brook Run? If it is, I will immediately digitize the document (if not already in that state) and then post it on my web page dedicated to Brook Run.

Below & attached are my comments & concerns, each of which I would like you to officially acknowledge.

Thank you,

John Heneghan
Dunwoody North Civic Association

Tonight's meeting was set to engage citizens to develop a new vision and framework to improve DeKalb’s parks and recreation system. I am here tonight to emphasize that my Dunwoody community has voiced many concerns to the Parks Department regarding the operation of Brook Run Park and we are thankful that the Board of Commissioners & the Parks Department are taking steps in the right direction regarding the future operation of the park.

Tonight I am here to publicly stress four points regarding Brook Run.

During the last Parks bond referendum push County officials publicized that $11.5 million dollars were to be earmarked for Brook Run Park and that if the referendum were passed; the County would hold a special charrette type meeting at Brook Run Park to determine the order that the Master plan would be developed. This promised meeting has yet to happen & I look forward to it taking place at some point in the near future. Prior to that meeting taking place, I would hope that he county would be able to provide the community a complete accounting of the expenditures and the balance of the $11.5 million dollars available for future development of the master plan.

2. We are looking forward to the reasonable operation of the skate park and the promised reforestation along Peeler as proposed by Commissioner Elaine Boyer.

3. In the June 19th edition of the Dunwoody Crier, Mr. Billups is quoted as stating that plans are being made for more benches and for shade awnings to be installed at the Children's Adventure Playground & I am hear tonight to officially confirm that quote & ask if a timeline might be available for these improvements?

Finally, I am requesting that Speed Limit Signs be posted through out the park, with a maximum speed of no greater then 20 mph by county law. At the moment there are none.

Thank you for the allowing me the opportunity to raise these issues.

Brook Run Article by

Childern's Adventure Garden Brings Life to a New Park in Atlanta
By Lisa Frank in Feb 2007

Designed by Altamira Design and Common Sense, Inc. for DeKalb County Parks and Recreation, the Children’s Adventure Garden at Brook Run Park in Dunwoody, Georgia, located just north of Atlanta’s city limits was completed in April 2006. The play features, produced by Miracle Play Equipment, are constructed of steel and PVC plastic. Adding to the park’s natural feel, TifSport Bermuda sod and a newly planted white oak tree surrounds the play area.

Well-designed playgrounds—strategically placed in public parks—are giving families with children what they need most. When kids have easy access to attractive parks and playgrounds, they develop positive habits that translate into active healthy lifestyles and a connection to nature that last a lifetime.

Reclaiming a former psychiatric hospital campus, DeKalb County created a master plan to redevelop the property as a 100-acre public park. The first phase of redevelopment was designated ‘The Children’s Adventure Garden’ — a five-acre site within the park, completely geared toward children.

In the foreground, an anise shrub is blooming, while Japanese silver grass grows on the bottom right. In collaboration with a Citizen Advisory Committee and DeKalb County staff, Altamira developed a fresh identity for Brook Run’s first phase to reflect the state of Georgia’s diverse habitats.

No public playground existed within a 30-minute walk of this growing section of metro Atlanta. An innovative design for a Children’s Adventure Garden by Altamira Design and Common Sense of Atlanta has brought the community’s vision to life. The result is a heavily used playground with three distinct areas, geared to different age groups from one to 11. Ever since it opened in April 2006, the facility has been packed - especially on weekends - every month of the year.

Soon the community’s teens will be rolling and gliding in a new skate park now under construction, certain to become a popular destination for skateboarders and roller-bladers from all over the region.

The pillars marking the park’s entrance are constructed of Tennessee Field stone and Western Red cedar, complimented by Inkberry Holly and Carrissa Holly. Before Children’s Adventure Garden, no public playground existed within a 30-minute walk in this section of Dunwoody, a community of families with children. The city of Atlanta is working to improve its ranking near the bottom of the list of major U.S. cities in terms of land preserved as parks.

Master Plan

After completing a conceptual Master Plan for the entire park property with another landscape architecture firm, the DeKalb County Parks and Recreation Department selected Altamira to provide detailed design documents for a world-class playground - clearly the community’s first priority. The greater Brook Run property is a wooded 102-acre campus with tremendous potential to eventually become a first-rate educational center and nature preserve. The valuable green space, formerly the site of a hospital and nursing home for the mentally ill operated by the State of Georgia, was purchased for $5 million by DeKalb County in 1998. Three years later, DeKalb County took the lead in regional green space preservation when voters passed a parks bond initiative that dedicated $125 million to acquire and protect more land for parks. In a mostly urban county of 710,000 people, securing those funds for individual properties within the county is a competitive process. Already, $11 million has been committed to Liane Levitan Park at Brook Run.

A $2 million budget was allocated for the Children’s Adventure Garden playground which encompasses 3.5 acres including a new parking lot and spacious restrooms. “Working closely with the community and DeKalb County staff, our challenge was to blend the new playground with its surrounding environment,” explains Harry Housen of Altamira. Housen is principal of the Atlanta firm he founded in 1992 and recently merged with landscape architects and land planners Wood + Partners with offices in Hilton Head, Georgia and Tallahassee, Florida.

The outcome of several meetings with an active Citizen Advisory Committee was a vision for the playground’s theme. It would reflect the state of Georgia’s environmental diversity. Special features suggest the state’s forests, mountains and meadow habitats.

A running brook begins at the upper pond flowing through all three play areas and is completely interactive with re-circulating water. Designed by Aqua Design Systems and with equipment from Roman Fountains, the stream system includes a 10 HP display pump that provides water to the upper end of the stream, pumping between 420 and 610 gallons per minute.

Park Features

The playground’s signature visual element is an extensive series of hand-built rock walls, designed to provide fun places for kids to climb and balance. Huge boulders are incorporated into the playground’s perimeter and smaller boulders are beautifully arranged in naturalistic interior walls. “These walls will be here forever,” Housen says. Like Georgia’s mountains, they are intended to imply permanence. Some of the walls suggest curving bodies of serpents and lizards, covered with more detailed smaller rocks to mimic scales on a snake’s skin.

Another important element uniting each play pod is a naturalistic water feature that pays tribute to the park’s original name, Brook Run. The flowing brook, also made of low rock walls and lined with Tennessee fieldstone along the bottom, is meant for walking and splashing. It’s a favorite place to cool off warm feet and hands on a hot summer day, reminiscent of walking in a real mountain creek. “Some of my happiest childhood memories are playing in backyard streams growing up in Atlanta,” offers Marti Watts, associate and project manager for Altamira. Watts managed the Brook Run project from start to finish. Unfortunately, Atlanta’s streams are no longer clean enough for children to wander in anymore; their counterpart at Brook Run is very similar to a swimming pool. Its chlorinated water system is filtered to keep the water clean and safe.

By popular demand, a 20,000 square foot skate park will soon be built at Brook Run, adjacent to the Children’s Adventure Garden. Altamira Design provided master planning and construction drawings for the innovative new amenity to be completed in the summer of 2007—the first of its kind in the Atlanta area. In addition, a new building will complement the skate park with restrooms, concessions and space for skating tournaments with covered viewing areas

The man-made stream starts at the highest point in the playground so water flows down hill, meandering through the entire space. “Another requirement from neighborhood parents was that the playground engaged all five senses,” Watts goes on. The sound and feel of the water adds tremendous appeal, giving children another environment to explore and experience. A large pond at the bottom of the stream collects water, suggesting the path water travels in nature, always ending up in the ocean – another echo of Georgia’s geography.

All play areas are surfaced with poured-in-place rubber material called TerraSoft, produced by Spectra Contract Flooring. Adding color and creating a festive sense of place, the surface complements the play structures. In addition, colored and stamped concrete surrounds the equipment and provides the natural look of stone.

Play Areas

Play areas are arranged in three inter-connected pods. Each has playground equipment appropriate for that age group. One play pod is for tots – age one to three. Almost two times the size of the others, one is for tikes – age four to seven. The third is for pre-teens – age eight and up. Not surprisingly, kids gravitate naturally to the activities that are right for them. The popular Trike Track features a poured concrete path with gently undulating curves, making the tricycle ride more fun and interesting than on a flat surface. Wide smiles on the faces of tiny tricycle drivers maneuvering the dips in the road say it all. The path required extra effort from the general contractor and is now affectionately known as Wacky Wavy Walk.

Since the tree house decks are excellent nature viewing spots, prefabricated bird houses are placed on many of the trees in that area in order to attract wildlife, such as owls, woodpeckers, bluebirds, and marlins. Trex material is used for the custom built bridges and decking, while pressure treated wood makes up the remaining structure.

The floor of the entire playground is covered in a new poured-in-place rubber product called Terrasoft by Spectra. The surface is comfortable to walk on, porous, safer in case of a fall and easier to maintain than loose wood-chip mulch – the material previously used in DeKalb County playgrounds. Based on its success at Brook Run, the rubber floor has become the new standard for future DeKalb County parks. To set the playful mood, Altamira designers artfully incorporated bold, whimsical curving shapes into the rubber flooring. Soothing, earth tones of ruby red, lapis blue and emerald green complement the muted primary colors of the playground equipment above.

Three gazebos, providing shady places for moms to congregate together, are positioned with good sight lines and easy visibility for scanning the entire playground. After all, one child may be in the tots area while a mother’s second child plays in the tikes section.

An interactive “World Fountain”—which is a 36" solid granite sphere etched with the world’s continents—sits in the center of the park. Children can spin the globe which appears to float on a thin layer of water.

Multipurpose Areas

Adjacent to the playground’s slides, swings and bars, an open meadow gives children a safe place to run freely in unstructured play activities. Originally, this area was a ball field, limited to just one use. The new design creates a more versatile, multi-purpose area. Kids enjoy flying kites here, or racing each other. And it has become a popular spot for birthday parties. The meadow’s gazebo has a power outlet and easy access from the street so parents can bring in packages of drinks and food. The meadow also offers a lovely setting for small concerts with comfortable seating - possibly a picnic on a blanket – on the lawn. A paved walking path encircles the grassy area and is often used by parents and senior citizens as an ideal place to walk for exercise.

Lined with newly planted white oaks and blooming natchez crape myrtles, paved trails with benches and picnic pavilions wind through existing woodlands, linking all park elements together. In addition, pre-fabricated gazebos, manufactured by Classic Recreation Systems, Inc., are located throughout the park, while existing pines, oaks and hickory trees provide a natural backdrop.

Tree Houses

To suggest Georgia’s forests, a 1,650 square foot tree house is a place where parents can calm children down after a stimulating work-out on the playground. The tree house is meant to be an inviting spot to enjoy lunch or a snack. Two maturing red oaks are incorporated into the structure as if growing out of the floor. Trex is used as the decking surface to incorporate another efficient, low maintenance aspect into the design. Made from recycled wood and plastic, this material eliminates the need for staining and sealing. It is slip-resistant, extends the life cycle way beyond that of wood decking and repels moisture and insect damage. The tree house design is intentionally open ended so kids can imagine it to be many things. Today, it could be a pirate ship. Maybe tomorrow it will be a space ship. There are several grids of rope and plastic netting to climb on and a suspended bridge that sways and moves.

Bird houses to attract various species are placed on most trees surrounding the tree house, enhancing the chances of spotting wildlife with tree house decks as good viewing spots. The Master Plan designated this area as a transition zone since it touches the playground, the meadow and the woods behind. The entire structure is elevated on legs rising about six feet above the ground, leaving a natural draining area for water to percolate and filter run-off below the structure.

Georgia’s mountains are represented by natural boulders, a running stream, two ponds and natural rock walls that suggest gigantic snakes and lizards. A crape myrtle tree is blooming on the left of the walkway, while the planter includes juniper and loropetalum.

Native Plants

Special attention was given to the plant palate, making every effort to use Georgia native plant material in keeping with the indigenous environmental theme. Hardy shrubs such as leucothoe, oakleaf hydrangea, azalea, service berry and inkberry holly are placed in naturalistic plantings in “places where nature might put them,” Housen says. Native trees including red bud, dogwood and silver bell along with tough, native grasses were also used.

However, Housen notes that “young kids and plants just don’t mix.” It’s too tempting to walk right through them. For this reason, plantings inside the immediate playground area are kept to a minimum along the edges. Several oak trees were added around the playground’s perimeter. Over time, they will re-establish a tree canopy with the gift of cool shade in the summer.

Georgia’s forests are represented with an interactive tree house accessed by a climbing bridge and walking trails. The treehouse is a custom design with Trex material used for the decking and pressure treated oak for the remaining structure. Other features include a standing seam metal roof, welded wire mesh fence panel integrated into the handrail design in lieu of pickets, and a cargo net made up of 1" Poly Dacron rope.

Unique Elements

At the playground’s entrance, tall stone trellises topped with carved wooden planks serve as a visual focal point, creating a strong sense of arrival. Benches will soon be added to the entrance plaza, designed as a meeting and gathering place.

Realizing that this playground would become a favorite for people of all ages, The Rotary Club of Dunwoody funded another prominent element, both visual and interactive. Known as the World Fountain, a solid black granite sphere weighing 2,200 pounds with a diameter of 36 inches appears to float on a thin layer of water. Children are encouraged to spin the globe in every direction.

Park officials asked Altamira designers to include a feature that blind children could enjoy. The globe fit the bill. Its smooth polished skin is cool to the touch. The world’s continents are etched into the granite, also a tactile element.

The playground is separated into three distinct areas for specific age groups:

• Pre-teens ages 8 and up

• Tikes ages 4 to 7

• Tots ages 1 to 3

Future Development

Directly across from the Children’s Adventure Garden, local teenagers will soon have a stimulating outdoor experience of their own. Altamira Design is managing all aspects of creating a stellar skate park—one that promises to be the largest and most fantastic in the southeast region. The talents of skate park design expert Brad Siedlecki of Pillar Design Studios in Tempe, Arizona are essential to the project’s success. “I am impressed with DeKalb County’s commitment to take the leap and do everything right,” Siedlecki says. In frequent meetings with neighborhood teens, Siedlecki found a savvy group of skating enthusiasts that knew exactly what features they wanted. Drawing on his own experience as a skateboarder, he builds skate parks around the country to help communities make those ideas happen.

The park addresses all skill levels from beginners to advanced and caters to every aspect of the sport - skateboarding, roller-blading and BMX (bicycle moto cross) bike riding.

Measuring an impressive 28,400 square feet, the curvaceous concrete landscape of bowls, drops, steps and ledges is all about re-creating the feel of skateboarding on city streets. Only here, it is completely legal. Special features—with names like the Volcano and the Death Box—make the project an excellent template for what a great skate park should be. A deep bowl with an 11-foot elevation change simulates the experience of skateboarding inside a dry swimming pool. Other amenities ensure that the park becomes a regional destination with spectator seating, food concessions, plenty of restrooms and a shade pavilion. Related colors will echo and visually connect the skate park to the playground. Now on the fast track with a total budget of $2.5 million, the new attraction is expected to be filled with moving wheels and live action by this summer.

Brook Run became an instant hit with the neighborhood and is always filled with children and adults of all ages. Several elements, such as stamped concrete and certain water features, created for Brook Run will be replicated in future DeKalb County parks.

Dog Park

And there’s one more important draw at Brook Run that today’s park-goers are putting at the top of their must-have list – a dog park. With only four public places in the Atlanta region for dogs to run freely, the dog park at Brook Run is a welcome addition. None of the others are set in a forest with shady nature trails winding though it. The 2.5-acre wooded parcel is a five-minute walk from the playground, giving a nice separation since dogs are not allowed in the Children’s Adventure Garden or skate park.

Model For The Future

Marilyn Boyd Drew, Director of DeKalb County’s Parks and Recreation Department considers Brook Run a model for the future of park design. She credits the tremendous involvement from the community as a large part of its success. In fact, Brook Run is so popular that it has been a challenge to keep up with routine maintenance, especially trash removal. “This park is full all day every day and it was from day one,” she says. Crafting a creative solution, Drew’s department is involving the nearby Warren Technical School to lend a hand. Warren teaches job skills to high school students with special needs to land a job after graduation. “One of their areas of study is grounds maintenance,” Drew explains. “From January through May, six Warren students will work at Brook Run four days each week to help our staff stay on top of the ongoing maintenance that such an active playground requires.” Drew is certain that the hands-on experience will be worthwhile. She already anticipates hiring students from the experimental program.

Official Naming

In November 2006, the entire property was renamed Liane Levetan Park at Brook Run in honor of the former DeKalb County CEO who was instrumental in acquiring it and advocating for parks and green space county-wide.

When asked about the lessons learned, landscape architect Harry Housen says it is the reactions of parents to his work that comes to mind. “Parents can have such different perceptions of the same thing. A few have expressed concern about the safety of the rock walls or even having their children walk in the water in the brook. Yet, there are many more who love those aspects. Pleasing everybody is always a challenge.”

He reflects on the project’s successes. From the beginning, every stakeholder was committed to making this playground the best it could be. “It is rewarding to see what a powerful gathering place it has become,” he adds, glancing over at three mothers sitting cross-legged in a circle on the comfortable rubber flooring. They catch up on adult conversation while their children romp around the play equipment. Several tell us they often visit Brook Run not just once but twice a day.
Stimulating Bodies and Minds

In a high-tech world where children spend hours sitting still in front of computers and TVs, their lack of physical activity is sounding an alarm with health officials. In fact, health experts speculate that this generation of American children may be the first to have an average life span that is shorter than their parents.

By designing safe and stimulating places to play, a great park can open young minds, spark their dreams, connect kids with nature and inspire them to imagine their fullest potential. The long-term effects of special places like the Children’s Adventure Garden at Brook Run Park will help build healthy minds and bodies. And that speaks to a brighter future.

Lisa Frank is an Atlanta writer and public relations consultant with a special interest in parks and environmental issues. Contact her at

Saturday, July 14, 2007

National Night Out with DeKalb Police - Aug 7

Hello Everyone,

This is a new event that the County started last year as a wonderful way for you and your family to meet the Police Officers from the North Precinct that patrol our neighborhood. Please e-mail Al Fowler at: to set up a time for an Officer to come by your home, (in the interest of time, please be outside at your appointed time). This is a great way to show our support for the Officers in DeKalb County as well as having a chance to meet them and ask questions. Please call me if you have any questions.


Lisa O. Dierks-Unkefer
Chairman, Dunwoody North Neighborhood Watch Program


National Night Out is a Unique Crime Prevention Event

NATIONAL NIGHT OUT is designed to:
Heighten crime prevention awareness
Generate support for and participate in local anti-crime programs
Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships
Send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fight back

National Night Out involves DeKalb citizens, DeKalb County Police, civic groups, businesses, neighborhood organizations and sometimes local officials.

ALL participating Neighborhoods will receive extended visits from DeKalb Police of the North Precinct.

NNO has proven to be an effective, inexpensive and enjoyable program to promote neighborhood spirit and to get police visits to your community.

This year we are inviting you to participate with the North DeKalb Police Precinct on Tuesday, August 7, 2006. Plan your event and notify Al Fowler our Public Education Specialist by Monday July, 23 2007.

POLICE OFFICERS will stop by your community and share with you in making DeKalb a safer place for all!

Starting Time: 5 p.m. until ??

AL FOWLER ... 404-294-2858