Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Walk to School; Retention Pond

Walk and Bike to School Day

Retention Pond

What do Tiger Woods and the DeKalb County School System have in common? Both have a trust issue and neither knows how to manage public relations!

DeKalb proved the latter again last night as it held a community meeting at Dunwoody High School to discuss the eyesore of a detention pond off Womack Rd. Barbara Colman, interim operations officer for capital improvements for DCSS, opened the meeting by telling Joe Hirsch, affectionately known as Public Comment Joe and who lives across the street from the pond, that he could not tape record the meeting. When Joe told Barbara that the meeting was public access, she said she didn't want her words taken out of context. Note to Barbara, when what you say it on tape, it's a lot harder to take out of context. I had the identical situation last year with then-DCSS superintendent Crawford Lewis. It's as if the school system always has something to hide. DCSS should take a page out of the city of Dunwoody's book (or more precisely Councilman John Heneghan's book). Record every meeting and make it available on the internet - this way there is a public record and nothing can be taken out of context. But then again, we're dealing with DeKalb County, which spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on PR, so obviously it knows what it is doing. NOT!

Back to the detention pond. Shawn Hamlin of the architectural firm Perkins+Will, which is handling the project, and Matt Tanner of Breedlove Land Planning, an expert in stormwater, did a very nice job of explaining why the current ponds were necessary (the old pond was not up to code and actually flooded neighbors' yards every five years or so) and why this system will work best for Dunwoody High School. Right now the ponds are retaining a large amount of water. But once construction is complete, the large pond (furthest away from Vermack Rd.) mostly will be a dry bed. Ditto for the small pond closest to the intersection of Vermack and Womack Rd. Only the second small pond will retain stormwater on a regular basis.

As for the pond being an eyesore, DCSS plans to plant Magnolia and Holly trees (likely in October) along the side of the ponds that fronts Womack Rd., which should help. But it won't completely hide the hideousness. In the words of Dunwoody City Councilman Robert Wittenstein, "It's going to be awful!" DCSS seems genuinely concerned with making the ponds as palatable as possible. But again, there's that trust issue.

Update from Councilman Wittenstein

Dear Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,
First, I’d like to welcome the new additions to my distribution list and to invite any of you who get this forwarded to you to get on my distribution list by e-mailing me at

This month I’d like to share with you various ways you can stay informed on City of Dunwoody government. You might want to save this e-mail away for future reference.
If you see a public works problem and want to report it, please call 678-382-6700 and ask for Public Works. To report an after-hours emergency problem, dial the number and press “2”.
For routine issues, you can e-mail the public works department at:

If you have a police, fire or medical emergency you should call 911. If you want to talk with the police dispatcher, but it isn’t an emergency, you can call 404-294-2911.
Would you like to see information on crimes in your neighborhood? We have recently set up a website that allows residents to view a map of police activity at
Dunwoody Crime Search.
The City Council meets at 7:00 pm on the second and fourth Monday of each month. (Our meetings in September will be on the 13th and the 27th.) We welcome you to come in person to City Hall (41 Perimeter Center East, behind Park Place shopping center). We start and end every meeting with public comment where anyone who wishes to make a statement has up to three minutes to address us. You can also watch us from the comfort of your home through the Internet. Our meetings are streamed live complements of Council member John Heneghan at
Council meetings live feed.

Are you interested in what our ordinances actually say? If so, you can read and search our complete code of ordinances at Dunwoody code of ordinances.
September is budget month. We will revise our 2010 budget and also begin discussion of our proposed 2011 budget. I expect an important and lively discussion on the proper balance between spending on police, roads and parks. In the meantime, if you want to view our current 2010 budget, you can find it at
Dunwoody 2010 budget.

For those who want to stay really connected to your city government, you can arrange to have an e-mail notice sent to you each time we post news, events, or publish agendas and material for meetings. You can sign up to receive only News notices, only Event notices, only Meeting Agendas or any combination of the three. Sign up for automatic e-mail updates here.
Finally, if you have something on your mind and want to let your elected officials know, feel free to e-mail us:

Mayor Ken Wright,
Council Post 1 (District 1 Local), Denis "Denny" Shortal,
Council Post 2 (District 2 Local), Adrian Bonser,
Council Post 3 (District 3 Local), Douglas R. Thompson,
Council Post 4 (District 1 At Large), Robert Wittenstein,
Council Post 5 (District 2 At Large), Danny Ross,
Council Post 6 (District 3 At Large), John Heneghan,



Rick said...

thanks for attending Bob. I was hoping you or chip would be there. Chip took a vacation from DunwoodyTalk - we expect him back after Labor Day. Chip's next assignment will be setting up a PTA or PTO for the SouthWest Dunwoody K-8 School on Womack.

Bob Fiscella said...

Rick - you're welcome. Look forward to Chip's return.

Anonymous said...

At the DHS meeting, was there any mention of when the trailers would start disappearing? On Aug 4, we were told that if the DHS construction remained on schedule, most of the classes in the trailers (all but math classes) would relocate back inside the building and the trailers would start disappearing around Labor Day.

John Heneghan said...


Georgia is a one party recording state and in a public meeting where there is no expectation of privacy, recording is fully allowed by law. At today's DCPC meeting I brought my recorder and at the opening of the meeting they asked if anyone was going to record the meeting and I was the only one in the room ready to do so, except for maybe WSB-TV, and they then warned the audience of my existence but allowed me to record.

Joe had every right to record.

Bob Fiscella said...

Thx John!