Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

Wishing you a healthy and prosperous New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Taste of Texas in Dunwoody


One of my holiday presents came a little late, but well worth the wait.  I found out Wednesday morning, while reading Access Atlanta, that the Austin-based chain Chuy's has opened a restaurant here in Dunwoody, at the location previously occupied by Fire of Brazil near Perimeter Mall.  If you're not familiar with Chuy's, it's a very casual, family-friendly atmosphere - perfect for a quick, inexpensive meal out (or to go).  Chuy's chips and salsa are fabulous, enchiladas mouth-watering and famous Rita's (margaritas) worth the price of admission (which is free).
Chuy's was always one of my favorite stops during my four-years at the University of Texas (okay, 4 1/2 years)! 
Below is the review from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

By Bob Townsend
For the AJC

Chuy’s has landed in Dunwoody. The Austin-based Tex-Mex concept — known for its wild-and-crazy decor, Elvis shrines, and “Big as Yo’ Face Burritos” — has been expanding to new cities in Texas and out-of-state, including Nashville. The Perimeter area is the first metro Atlanta outpost.

The look: Located in the former Fire of Brazil space on Perimeter Center West, the freestanding building is easy to spot, splashed with a riot of psychedelic colors. As a company motto puts it, “If you’ve seen one Chuy’s, you’ve seen one Chuy’s.” In Dunwoody, the eclectic design ranges through a series of dining rooms, a circular bar area and an outdoor patio, with metal palm trees, Mexican folk art and velvet Elvis paintings.

The scene: One recent afternoon, the parking lot was full, and '50s rock-and-roll was blaring from the outdoor speakers. Inside, most tables were packed with a mix of lunching office workers and families, including some screaming children, and the decibel level made shouting the only way to communicate.

The menu: Chuy’s covers all the Tex-Mex favorites, and boasts freshly made tortillas, sauces and guacamole. House specialties include the Chuychanga with roasted chicken, cheese and green chiles ($8.99) and Elvis green chile fried chicken, breaded with Lay’s potato chips and smothered in green chile sauce ($8.79). The Elvis Presley Memorial Combo pairs three different enchiladas, a crispy beef taco, and tostada chips with chile con queso ($10.29).

The drinks: Margaritas with fresh lime juice top the drinks list. Father Agave features Don Julio silver and Grand Marnier ($8.75). The house Texas martini comes in a shaker with a salt-rimmed martini glass and jalapeno-stuffed olives ($7.95).
The extras: Happy hour, weekdays 4-7 p.m., centers on a vintage “Nacho Car” with a trunk table of free chips, salsa, queso and other munchies, plus $4 house margaritas and $2.50 domestic beers from the bar.

Is Housing Rebound Just Around the Corner?

I found the article below while reading Moneynews.com.  While I do not have a crystal ball and can't predict the future, our Atlanta housing numbers are trending towards a rebound, from the bottom up.  It's a short article - definitely worth the read.

By Julie Crawshaw

Contrarians say that after five years of slumping real estate sales and prices, there are strong and diverse signs that the single-family housing market is poised for a rebound.

“It has become increasingly apparent to us that the pieces for a housing rebound next year are beginning to fall into place,” declared Barclays Capital analyst Stephen Kim in a recent note to investors, CNBC reports.
In some metropolitan areas both sales and prices are rising and foreclosures are declining, and prices overall are lower than they have been in years.
For example, in Tampa, Fla., South Bend, Ind., Grand Rapids, Mich., Raleigh, N.C., Wichita, Kan., and Green Bay, Wis., the median sales price of an existing single family home increased 1 percent to 2 percent in the third quarter, during which time the jobless rate and/or payrolls growth also improved dramatically.

The National Association of Home Builders is forecasting a 5.1-percent increase in new home sales and a 10-percent increase for new home starts in 2012.
Moreover, residential rents have risen to the point at which many renters can consider buying, especially given that both existing home inventory is at a five-year low and new home inventory is at a 40-year low.

Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo told the state association’s 2012 Real Estate and Economic Forecast Conference in Orlando that Florida is in a “mini-recovery,” the Destin Log reports.
“Sales are trending up, listing inventories are falling, the supply of lender-related properties has stabilized, and we are seeing multiple offers on homes in some local markets,” Tuccillo said.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Political Odds and Ends

It's two days before Christmas, thought I'd pass along a couple of interesting political items. 

Why is our federal government in financial straits?  Our elected officials just don't get it.  However, a simple two-minute lesson from CNBC's financial expert Rick Santelli is all they need.  Watch the short video below.  It's a straight-forward explanation of why our national debt will not be shrinking anytime soon. 


Can't decide which presidential candidate to vote for in 2012?  USA Today has helped simplify the process  - or at least made it more entertaining - with a "candidate match game."  Click on the graph below, then click on "Begin the Quiz" and answer then 10 questions to help determine which candidate's views align with your own.  Wouldn't this have been great to have for Dunwoody's last election.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Real Estate Update

My newest listing in Dunwoody North.  This is a wonderful opportunity for a first-time homebuyer or seniors seeking stepless living.  For complete details, click on the photo above.
As we approach Christmas Day, all signs point towards a real estate market that has either hit the bottom or is very close.  For homes priced at $100,000 or less in the metro Atlanta area, the market has already shifted from a buyers' market to a sellers' market.  There are less than 6 months supply of homes in this category (which means that if not a single new listing came on the market, it would take 6 months to sell all the existing inventory).  Another great sign is that jobless claims are at their lowest level since the spring of 2009.  Naturally, the real estate market goes hand-in-hand with the jobs market. There are currently 105 active listings in Dunwoody in the 30338, 30360 and 30350 zip codes with another 30 homes under contract.  In the past 30 days, 20 homes have sold.  The median average listing price is $335,000.  The median sales price is $294,500. 
To view any active listing with photos, click on the first link below.  To view all active listings in a line item report, click the second link.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Need a Role Model?


Need a role model for your children?  Forget about our politicians and public leaders.  Eventually most of them will let us down.  Instead,  point your children in the direction of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.  The kid is a winner.  Plain and Simple.  And he does it with class.   Never a negative word about anyone.
Seemingly every NFL pundit wants Tebow to fail.  They'll tell you what he can't do, and why he can't do it.  They'll tell you how he doesn't have an NFL-caliber arm.  How his footwork is poor.  How he can't read defenses. 
And despite all his flaws, he just keeps winning.  Tebow won two National Championships at the University of Florida, and since he took over as the Broncos starting quarterback this year, the team has won seven of eight games, three of those in overtime.  The Broncos are now in first place, battling for their first playoff berth since 2005.  
Even if you're not a football fan, Sunday afternoon's game against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots is must-see TV.
I'll be rooting for Tebow.

Click on the photo to watch a story that helps define who Tim Tebow is.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Update From Councilman Shortal

The following update was sent out Sunday evening by Councilman Denis Shortal. 

My fellow citizens .... the following are some update items of interest ....

1. Last Council Meeting of the Year...... The last City Council meeting of 2011 will be Monday, 12 DEC 2011. There, as always, are some agenda items of interest but most important is that this will be the last Council meeting for Mayor Ken Wright, Councilman Danny Ross and Councilman Robert Wittenstein. All three of these gentleman have been heavily involved in the formation of and, the first three years of our City. I ask each of you to make a special effort to attend this meeting to show your appreciation to Ken, Danny and Robert for the massive effort they have put forth on behalf of all of us citizens of Dunwoody. The meeting will start promptly at 7:00 PM this Monday, 12 December at our City Hall. Please try to be there by 7:00PM.

2. Dunwoody Police Christmas For Kids ...… This 3rd annual event is spearheaded by our own "Dunwoody's Finest" ... our Police men and women with support from our city staff, businesses and citizens. We are still in need of some toys for children up to ages 15. If you can find it in your spirit of giving and budget please bring unwrapped toys to the police reception area in our city hall by 15 DEC. It will be greatly appreciated and you will be bringing the joy of Christmas to some young children. Click on the following website for a very well done "You Tube" presentation on our Christmas for Kids program ...

3. Fire Hydrants ... In the last two "Clean, Fix and Shine-Up Dunwoody Days" we have made a max effort to paint all the fire hydrants in Dunwoody. We are aware that there are still a few hydrants that need painting. If you see one of these please note its location and send me an email including the location so that we can put it on our "to do" list.

4. Elections ... My congratulations to our newly elected mayor and council members ... Mayor elect Mike Davis, Council Members elect Lynn Deutsch and Terry Nall. They will officially take office after they are sworn in ... this is tentatively schedule to take place at a special called meeting on 3 JAN 2012. Please check the city website ... http://www.dunwoodyga.gov/home.aspx ...for final details and for other important city information. Also, my sincere congratulations to all of you that got out and voted. Although I personally would like to see 100% voter turn out, the percentage of citizens that voted far exceeded expectations. To me that demonstrates that you are heavily involved in the future of our city and for that I say ... thank you!

5. Recycling .... In previous "updates" I have told you that it is my perception that the number of Dunwoody households that are recycling has greatly increased ... now I have proof. The following numbers were provided by Ted Rhinehart, Deputy COO/Infrastructure of DeKalb County ... thanks Ted. From the end of 2008 thru the end on 2010 (the latest full year numbers available) the number of Dunwoody family households that are recycling has increased from 3,778 to 4,819. Percentage wise the increase was from 31% to 40%. I think when the final 2011 results are in these numbers will be even higher. For the YTD 2011 Dunwoody residents have recycled 1,513,120 pounds of recyclable materials ...that is impressive. Our thanks to all of you who have joined the "blue box recycling brigade." For those of you interested in joining the recycling effort ... below is all the information you will need:

Call the Sanitation Customer Service (404) 294-2900 or email sanitation@co.dekalb.ga.us and subscribe to the residential recycling program. (Initial subscription cost is $30.00 which includes the blue box and 200 blue bags). You can also subscribe to the recycling program, by going to the following website ... Residential Curbside Recycling ... click on "Residential Subscription Curbside Recycling Application," fill out the application and send it along with your check or money order of $30.00 to the Sanitation Division, 3720 Leroy Scott Drive, Decatur, GA 30032. Make checks payable to DeKalb County. A "blue box" and 200 blue bags (a four year supply) will be dropped off at your address once your request is processed.

6. Security .... Tis' the season that we all need to increase our security awareness. Keep your house doors locked at all times, keep some lights, TV etc. on when you are away, keep a sharp eye on your neighbor's homes around you and don't open you door to strangers until you have verified their identity. If what you are seeing doesn't pass your "smell test" call 911 ASAP. When out and about be vigilant of your surroundings, provide extra security of your wallet and purse, when shopping park in a well lit area and don't park next to a van type vehicle, if you feel uncomfortable get someone to walk to your car with you, as you approach your car look under and into your car prior to opening a door, once in your car lock your doors immediately and please don't leave anything of value in your car where it can be easily seen. You will be glad you took these precautions and our police will have more time to tend to other issues.

7. Paving .... By the end of this week all the streets on the 2011 paving list should be paved. There is still some stripping to be done on streets that have already been paved and that will be started as soon as these last residential streets are paved. We have now paved more streets in the last two years than in the previous 20 years that I have lived here. My thanks to all our city staff in the Public Works Department for a job well done. As you know, we had all the streets in the city evaluated in 2009 using a laser truck to keep the "politics" out of the decision of the priority of paving the streets. I am well aware that just about anyone, who's street has not already been paved, can justify that their street needs paving. It boils down to the fact that many years of neglect cannot be rectified over night. We should all take confidence in the fact that we are making great progress and your taxes are more than 19% less than what they would have been had we not become a city.

8. Request .... I have one request ... when you get a chance please email me with what you feel are the two or three top priorities for our City for 2012.

9. That is about all for this evening. Please pass this on to all your friends, neighbors, members of your HOA or anyone else you think maybe interested. If anyone would like to be added to my email list please let me know and I will make that happen. Thanks for making it a great year for our city ... all of you make all of this worth doing. In closing, Meredy and I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or whatever you celebrate this special season of the year. May each of us find the PEACE we all desire!

Let Us Continue To Build Our City Together

Denny Shortal
Dunwoody City Council, District One, Post-1
Mayor Pro Tem
denis.shortal@dunwoodyga.gov
PH (O) 678-382-6700 (C) 678-246-9006

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lessons Learned from the Elections


Future Dunwoody politicians learned some valuable lessons from Tuesday's runoff.

The first lesson learned is negative campaigning DOES NOT WORK in this city. PERIOD!  Over the past few years, I've had the opportunity to get to know Bob Dallas.  He's a good man.  I can't think of a time when he said anything bad about anyone. However, Bob made the mistake of hiring a high-powered, high-priced political consultanting firm with a history of "going negative."  In the past few weeks, Dallas' campaign sent out mailers - and supposedly robo calls, although I did not receive one - that made mountains-out-of-mole-hills about insignficant flaws on Mike Davis' record. There may even have been inaccuracies in the materials.  The backlash was brutal.  Clearly, the negative nonsense hurt Dallas more than it helped.  It's the second time a candidate has tried negative tactics in Dunwoody. Those candidates are now 0-for-2.

What also hurt Bob was the fact that he did not take a strong stance against the parks' bonds, which failed by a 2-to-1 margin on the November ballot.  
While the bonds hurt Dallas, they crushed incumbent councilman Robert Wittenstein in his race against Terry Nall.  The bonds were like an albatross around Robert's neck, as his lost by, ironically, almost the same percentage as the bonds.  Although I didn't see eye-to-eye with Robert on many issues, he did earn my respect for the time and energy he put into the job, which is technically a part-time gig. At times, Robert appeared to be omnipresent - seemingly at every community meeting and event.  He says he will remain active in the community.  Hopefully that is the case.

Finally, what we learned is that the mayor and council cannot have their own agenda, regardless of how noble their intentions.  The agenda must match the will of the people, or our elected officials will pay dearly at the ballot box.  

Davis, Nall Sweep to Victory

2011 Runoff Election Results 

Mayor
Mike Davis, 3432, 60 percent
Dallas - 2267, 40 percent

Council Post 4
Terry Nall - 3699, 65 percent
Robert Wittenstein - 1980, 35 percent

Mike Davis

I'll have to admit, I expected the runoff for Mayor and City Council District 1 to be decided by a razor-thin margin.  It was anything but.
Mike Davis and Terry Nall swept to easy victories Tuesday night.  Despite being outspent 3-to-1, Davis easily defeated Bob Dallas to become mayor-elect.  He will replace the outgoing Ken Wright.  Meantime, Nall's margin of victory over incumbent Robert Wittenstein was even more impressive, as he collected 65 percent of the vote.

Terry Nall
It's not hard to figure out why Davis and Nall won handily, as both were against the ill-advised parks' bonds that were soundly defeated last month, and Davis appears to have benefited from all the negative literature distributed by the Dallas' campaign in the last couple of weeks.  Kudos to Davis' volunteer campaign advisors Heyward Wescott and Brent Morris, who out-smarted Dallas' highly-paid consultants.  Let this be a lesson for future candidates in Dunwoody - this city's voters will not tolerate negative campaigns. 
How will the election of Davis and Nall change city hall?  Expect core projects like roads and infrastructure to take a greater priority.  In the words of Terry, "we need to separate the needs from the wants."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Vote on Tuesday

A reminder that there are two important runoff elections for Dunwoody City Council on Tuesday.  Turnout is expected to be very low, so don't forger to vote because your vote will count. 
I've had quite a few folks ask me who to vote for.  My simple advice is to vote for the candidate whose values most align with your own. 
In the race for City Council, District 1, I will tell you that I am voting for Terry Nall.  While I appreciate everything Robert Wittenstein has done in helping start the city, over his three-year term he has lost touch with his constituents.  How else to explain his firm backing of a parks plan that would have raised our out-of-pocket taxes almost 100 percent, which was rejected by two-thirds of the population.  I agree with Terry Nall's measured plans for improving our parks.  I also feel Terry's idea of transparency in government aligns with mine.  Dunwoody Farmer Bob wrote a nice blog piece on why Terry is his choice.  I urge you to read it.

To me, the mayor's race is a much more difficult decision.  Again, like the council race, I personally like both candidates.  I feel Bob Dallas has the decided edge in government experience, however, I am utterly disappointed in how negative he has allowed his campaign to turn.  Unfortunately, he has unwittingly followed the advice of his political consultants (do those running for office in Dunwoody really need paid political consultants)?  I have real problems with this.  It shows a complete lack of judgement and leadership.  Despite Bob's depth of experience, I question whether he is more prepared to lead the city that Mike Davis.  I can find a half-dozen reasons to vote for each candidate.  I am voting for Davis. 

Take my thoughts for what they are, but bottom line, regardless of candidate, please vote on Tuesday!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Update From Councilman Shortal

I received the following from Dunwoody Councilman Denis Shortal last night.
Good evening my fellow citizens .... the following are some update items of interest ...

1. Thanksgiving ... I trust each of you and your Families and friends had an outstanding Thanksgiving. Indeed all of us have a lot for which to be thankful.
2. Runoff Election ... The run-off election for Mayor and City Council District One, Post 4 will be held on 6 DEC 2011. Remember, this is a city wide election and every citizens in Dunwoody gets to vote for candidates for both offices.
Regular Voting ... will be at your normal city voting polling place from 7 AM to 7 PM on 6 DEC 2011.
Remember you must have a government issued photo ID when you vote in person.
Absentee Voting ... you can still vote absentee but you must move quickly. Go to the following website for an absentee ballot application ...
Print the application, fill it out and fax it to Voter Registration at 404-298-4038 ... you can fax it in today. If you don't have a computer or fax capability you can mail the completed application (you must hurry) to Voter Registration, 4380 Memorial Dr., Suite 300, Decatur, Ga 30032 or take your application directly to the address above and vote absentee directly in person or call (Ph # at bottom of this email) or email me and I will assist you to get a ballot application.
After submitting your ballot application you will receive a ballot from the DC Voters Registration Office ... Fill it in an immediately mail it to .... "Voter Registration, 4380 Memorial Dr., Suite 300, Decatur, Ga 30032." Your completed ballot must be received at the Voter Registration Office by the close of business on 6 DEC to be counted. FYI, the phone # at the Voter Registration office is 404-298-4020.
Personal Request ... This is run off election which historically has a low voter turnout. I ask each of you to make your vote counts and your voice is heard by making the extra effort to exercise your privilege to vote .... a lot of great Americans have given their lives defending your voting privilege including my college roommate, 1/LT Robert Klages, USMC, who was Killed in Action and awarded the Silver Star for valor in combat.
Sample Ballot ... below is an example of the sample ballot ...
*SAMPLE BALLOT* DEKALB COUNTY *SAMPLE BALLOT*

OFFICIAL ABSENTEE/PROVISIONAL/CHALLENGED BALLOT
OFFICIAL GENERAL MUNICIPAL ELECTION RUNOFF BALLOT OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA

DECEMBER 6, 2011

To vote, blacken the Oval ( ) next to the candidate of your choice. To vote for a person whose name is not on the ballot, manually WRITE his or her name in the write-in section and blacken the Oval ( ) next to the write-in section. If you desire to vote YES or NO for a PROPOSED QUESTION, blacken the corresponding Oval ( ). Use only blue or black pen or pencil.

Do not vote for more candidates than the number allowed for each specific office. Do not cross out or erase. If you erase or make other marks on the ballot or tear the ballot, your vote may not count.

If you change your mind or make a mistake, you may return the ballot by writing “Spoiled” across the face of the ballot and return envelope. You may then mail the spoiled ballot back to your county board of registrars, and you will be issued another official absentee ballot. Alternatively, you may surrender the ballot to the poll manager of an early voting site within your county or the precinct to which you are assigned. You will then be permitted to vote a regular ballot.

"I understand that the offer or acceptance of money or any other object of value to vote for any particular candidate, list of candidates, issue, or list of issues included in this election constitutes an act of voter fraud and is a felony under Georgia law." [OCGA 21-2-285(h) and 21-2-383(a)]

CITY OF DUNWOODY
For Mayor

(Vote for One)
( ) BOB DALLAS
( ) MIKE DAVIS

For City Council At Large Post 4

(Vote for One)
( ) TERRY NALL
( ) ROBERT WITTENSTEIN (Incumbent)

2. Election Prospective ....The Mayor's position and District One, Post-4 City Councilman's position are up for election. ALL Dunwoody citizens that are registered to vote get to vote for candidates for BOTH positions. In my opinion, we are at a pivotable point in the history of our City and the outcome of this election is critical to our future. Again, become informed about the candidates.... ask the hard questions and demand a straight answer ... don't except double talk. Judge the candidates not just by their answers but more importantly by their actions. Note how they have voted on local issues and who they have voted for in general elections. That will give you a good idea as to where they stand. Over 70% of you voted a conservative ballot in the last general election. There are candidates running that fit the conservative philosophy of the vast majority of you and there are candidates running that are on the opposite side of that philosophy. The current buzz words now used by the candidates is "I am fiscally conservative" ... but as in all situations, past and present actions are more important than these words. Another important issue to look at is ... what is the source of a candidate's campaign funding. I keep asking myself ... what is the motive for folks who live outside Dunwoody making large campaign contributions to certain candidates? You are a very astute citizenry and I know you can determine that motive.

3. Special Called Meeting ... There will be a Special Called Meeting at City Hall on 5 DEC 2011 at 7 PM to discussed the purchase of the 5.15 acre plot west of Shallowford Rd at the Peachford RD intersection. At the time the "Letter of Intent" was signed the negotiated price was $1,436,000 ... FYI, I voted against this purchase. As you recall this was part of the "package deal" with the 19 acres at the old Shallowford Hospital site. The 19 acres was contingent on the Park Bond passage but the 5.15 acres was a straight purchase thus not contingent on the Park Bond passage. On this 5.15 acres, we are currently in a 45 day "free look period" with ends around 9 DEC. During this 45 day period we had two independent appraiser value the property ... one appraisal can in slightly above the negotiated price and the other appraisal came in at $1,300,000. On the DeKalb County Tax Record the property in appraised at $750,000. The purchase was deferred at our meeting on 14 NOV with the request that the City Manager meet with the property owners in an effort to negotiate a lower price.

4. Regular December Meeting ... There is only one regular City council meeting in December and that is on 12 DEC. On a personal note this will be the last council meeting for Mayor Ken Wright and Councilman Danny Ross. Both of these gentleman have worked endless quality hours and days to start up and continue to enhance our City and, to improve our quality of life in Dunwoody. Each of us owe these two "public servants" our gratitude for a job well done! Ken and Danny .... THANK YOU is not enough but please accept it as a small token for what you have done on behalf of every citizen of Dunwoody.

5. Convention and Visitors Bureau of Dunwoody (CVBD) .... The CVBD presented their 2012 budget and marketing plan at our 14 NOV council meeting. They presented a budget with a surplus as well as a very aggressive marketing plan to attract conventions, conferences, family reunions, etc. to our city's first class hotels, restaurants, and businesses. To date, the staff, business owners/managers and volunteer citizens that make up the CVBD leadership have done a superb job of fulfilling their mission.

6. Stage Door Players ... Dunwoody's own theatre group presents the Stage Door Players Christmas Show comedy open 2 DEC and runs thru 18 DEC. Shows are some Thursdays and all Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sunday afternoons a 2:30 PM. If you haven't been to one of the Stage Door Players productions you are in for a real treat by attending. For more information call 770-396-1726. See you at our theatre!

7. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Concert ... Again this year St. Luke's Presbyterian Church on 1978 Mt Vernon Rd will be hosting the Marine Corps Toys for Tots concert. This concert, which is not religion specific or a religious service, features all your favorite song and tunes of the Christmas and Holiday Season and is open to all the citizens of Dunwoody and surrounding communities. LtCol Mike Varicak, USMC, Inspector-Instructor, H&HS Bn, 4th MLG based in Marietta, GA and his wife Beki will be the Marine representatives at this concert. Admission is only one new unwrapped toy which the Marines will, on your behalf, use to bring a smile and joy to some child in the greater Atlanta area who might otherwise be facing a lonely Christmas. The date and time of the concert is 4 DEC 2011 at 5 PM. I hope to see you there.

9. That is about all for this evening. Please pass this on to your friends, neighbors, members of your HOA or anyone else you think maybe interested. If anyone want to be added to my email list please let me know and I will make it happen. Thanks for your continued positive support of our CIty ... you are impressive and involved citizens for which I am thankful.
Let Us Continue To Build Our City Together

Denny Shortal
Dunwoody City Council, District One, Post-1
Mayor Pro Tem
denis.shortal@dunwoodyga.gov
PH (O) 678-382-6700 (C) 678-246-9006

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving


With sunny skies all day and a high of 67 degrees, you can't blame the weather for not having a Happy Thanksgiving.  Plus the fact there is a super lineup of football - and what goes better than Thanksgiving and football!

And if that's not enough, there's a college football game this evening as well, 8pm, my Texas Longhorns facing arch-rival Texas A&M for the final time, as the hated Aggies are leaving the Big 12 conference for the SEC.  To all my Aggies friends (and sister), I say, "good luck with that!"

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Light Up Dunwoody

Sunday is Light Up Dunwoody -
an annual community event to welcome the holiday season.
Christmas Village opens at 3:00 pm and concludes with the lighting of the
tree at 6:00 pm at the Farm House. Vendors will offer wonderful holiday treasures and refreshments!
At the Spruill Farm House, Santa will welcome children to sit on his lap,
and a Santa sleigh with reindeer will be available for more
photo opportunities. Bring your own camera!
Everyone is invited, and there is no cost to participate in this family friendly event.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Real Estate Friday

While we still have not seen an upturn in the price of housing in the greater Atlanta area, we are seeing signs that the market has stabilized, and perhaps even bottomed out (we won't know the latter until after the fact).  
There are currently 114 active single-family listings in Dunwoody (zip codes 3038, 30360, 30350), with 32 homes under contract.  That ratio of less than 4-to-1 is the best we've seen in sometime (more than three years).
Since the start of October, 22 homes have sold - again a very good number compared to active listings.  The median average sales price is $325,000, with the highest price $758,000 and the lowest $139,900.
To view any active listing (including photos), click on the Buyer's Report link below.  To view a list of all the active listings, click on the CMA Line Report.  To view the sales price of the 22 homes that have sold since the start of October, click the Sold Homes link. 

Buyer's Report
CMA Line Report
Sold Homes

If you have interest in any of the homes currently listed for sale, please give me a call at 404-644-5220 or email me at bobfiscella@kw.com.  I'll be happy to set up a viewing.

Latest Mortgage News

The average rate for a conventional 30-year fixed rate mortgage (FRM) reached a record low, according to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey. For the first time in history, the 30-year FRM dropped below four percent, averaging 3.94 percent for the week ending October 6, 2011. That's a 0.33 percent difference from last year's average of 4.27 for the same week in October. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage—one of the most popular options for refinancing—fell to 3.26 percent, the lowest level on record.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Runoff Voting Made Easy

Last Tuesday's election draw almost 10,000 Dunwoody voters to the polls.  That's the good news.  The not-so-good news is that number represents less than 37 percent of the registered voters in the city.
On December 6, Dunwoody will hold a runoff election for mayor as well as city council, at large district 1.  If the runoff draws approximately the same numbers as the runoff three years ago, less than 2,000 voters will decide those key positions. 
With that, DeKalb County Board of Elections has made it easy to vote in the runoff.  By clicking on the photo below, you can download the form to request an absentee ballot.



Former Candidate for Mayor Makes Endorsements

I received the following email from former mayoral candidate Gordon Jackson.  I thought Gordon would have made an exceptional mayor - a man of high character who sticks by his principles.

Thanks to those of you who voted for me. I am most appreciative of and humbled by your support. Although I fell a little short in the race, this was an amazing process and I urge your continued participation in the City of Dunwoody affairs. Dunwoody is a great place to live but I can tell you from my discussions with hundreds of citizens, there is no shortage of opinions on what needs to be done or what direction the city should pursue. Your voice needs to be heard in the process. Not only at the polls but also at the City Council meetings and the city boards, the planning commission, etc. Stay involved.
There are two runoff races remaining and the vote for those races will be December 6th. Depending on the results of the runoff races, the council could have a very different philosophical base. I remain very concerned about the power of the big building, high density development agencies in the Perimeter area and their ability to directly affect the direction of Dunwoody growth and completely change the character of the city. Therefore, I am endorsing Mike Davis for mayor since I believe him to be the only candidate now in the race who will fight for a traditional Dunwoody. The attachment contains an advertisement which is running in today's Crier. I urge your support and vote for Mike in the election on December 6th.
In concert with my concern for the direction of the city in the future, I am also endorsing Terry Nall in the runoff council race. I have known Terry for some time and believe him to also stand for traditional Dunwoody values. I also urge your support and vote for Terry on December 6th.
Thanks to you all again. Your support meant more than you will ever know.

Gordon Jackson

Friday, November 11, 2011

Saluting America's Veterans


Today is Veteran's Day.  The City of Dunwoody will honor our veterans with a ceremony at Brook Run at 2pm.  Nationally, the annual ceremony is this morning at Arlington National Cemetery . The ceremony commences precisely at 11:00 a.m. with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans' organizations and remarks from dignitaries.  Expect Fox News, CNN and MSNBC to air the ceremony live - always a touching moment. 

To my Dad, I say happy Veteran's Day.  George Fiscella, now 85-years old, is a veteran of World War II, having served aboard the aircraft carrier the USS Randolph in the south Pacific. 

Click on the photo to watch Toby Keith's American Soldier

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dunwoody Rejects Parks Bonds, Two Runoffs


Election Results (unofficial)

Mayor - Bob Dallas - 3787 (43%), Mike Davis - 3389 (39%), Gordon Jackson - 1540 (17%)
District 1 - Terry Nall - 3824 (44%), Robert Wittenstein - 3564 (42%) , Rick Callihan - 1133 (13%)
District 2 - Lynn Deutsch - 4593 (55%), Kerry de Vallette - 3694 (44%)
District 3 - John Heneghan - 7087 (98.9%)
Parks Acquisition Bond - No - 6163 (67%), Yes - 3080 (33%)
Parks Improvement Bond - No - 5531 (60%), Yes - 3715 (40%)
Redevelopment Powers (TAD) - Yes - 4759  (54%), No - 4013 (46%)
Sunday Alcohol Sales - Yes - 7395 (80%), No - 1906 (20%)
SPLOST - Yes - 33114 (62%), No - 20141 (38%) 

The results of Tuesday's election are official with both parks bonds being soundly defeated.  I give a lot of credit to the citizens of Dunwoody.  While most all of us would like to see new and improved parks, these bonds were poorly written and showed a lack of transparency (plus right now, not too many folks can stomach another tax increase).  The new city council will get its chance to deal with parks in a more responsible manner. 

Speaking of the new city council, it will have at least two new members and maybe even three.  The mayor's race is going to a runoff between Bob Dallas and Mike Davis.  Considering all the money Dallas spent, according to The Crier, I'm surprised the vote was that close.  But Dallas does have a war chest to draw from for the runoff, which is December 6.  It will be interesting which way Gordon throws his support (for what it is worth).

In District 1, incumbent Robert Wittenstein was forced into a runoff by Terry Nall, who actually got a greater percentage of the vote.  While Robert apparently has a large war chest for the runoff, history is not on an incumbent's side.  Plus, Rick is likely to throw his support to Terry.

In District 2, Lynn Deutsch beat Kerry de Vallette to win the seat being vacated by Danny Ross.  Congratulations to Lynn.  And in District 3, John Heneghan ran unopposed, picking up over 7,000 votes, which is the most ever by a candidate in Dunwoody.  Congrats John!

The citizens of Dunwoody sent DeKalb County Schools as message, voting against the SPLOT penny sales tax by a margin of almost 2-to-1, however, it passed in the countywide vote by almost a 2-to-1 margin. 

Finally, in the most lopsided race on Tuesday, the citizens of Dunwoody overwhelmingly approved the sale of Sunday alcohol by a margin of 4-to-1!   I, for one, will raise a glass to that!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Election Day

Election Day is finally upon us - hopefully you will take the time to vote.  Below is a sample ballot.  Click on the ballot to enlarge and see both pages.


If you're not sure where to vote, click on the photo below.


Now the hard part - who and what to vote for.  I believe both the Mayor's race and the race for City Council, At Large, Post 4, are headed to runoffs.  Both have been competitive, three-man races.  For City Council, At Large, Post 5, I am voting for Kerry de Vallette.  I have no issues with Lynn Deutsch, but Kerry followed through on reaching out to me, and I share his vision for Dunwoody.  For City Council, At Large, Post 6, I am voting for John Heneghan (he is running unopposed).  I don't always agree with John, but I respect the job he's done.  And when I do disagree with him, he never takes it personally (it's not).

If you've read my blog in the past, you know I am voting NO on the parks' bonds.  It's simply the right thing to do.  They will cost the city too much money, have little in the way of specifics and planning, and have lacked transparency from the start.  I've said my peace on the bonds, for a great synopsis, click Dunwoody Farmer Bob.  Hopefully council will present a responsible parks' plan in 2012. 

I'm not sure how I will vote on the Redevelopment Referendum.  On the surface it seems to be a good idea, but I have some questions that remain unanswered. I've got a little more homework to do.  I will vote YES on Sunday Alcohol Sales.  I may never buy beer on Sunday (not likely), but that needs to be my choice. 

Finally, I will vote NO on DeKalb County School SPLOST.  The county still needs to prove it will spend our taxes dollars wisely.  Hopefully the changes to the superintendent and school board move DCSS in that direction.

Hope to see you at the polls!

Friday, November 4, 2011

College Football at is Best, Dunwoody Clean Up


I know the election is just 3 days away, but it's hard for me to look past Saturday night's latest college football game of the century. 
The top-ranked Tigers of LSU travel to Tuscaloosa to take on second-ranked Alabama.  Both teams are unbeaten.  Both teams riding their hard-hitting defense.  Without offending my Tide friends, I like the Bengal Tigers in this game.  I like LSU's experience at quarterback.  Hopefully the game is worth all the hype. 

Clean, Shine & Fix Up

Saturday is the second annual Clean, Shine & Fix Up Dunwoody Day.  Over 800 volunteers are expected to take part doing various tasks.  My Knights of Columbus coucil will be cleaning up the intersection of I-285 and North Peachtree Rd.  Last year we looked inmates out for the day!
For more, read Dunwoody Patch

DunwoodyUSA.com

I have added a domain name to this blogspot.  You can now get to it by going to either:  http://www.dunwoodyusa.blogspot.com/, http://www.dunwoodyusa.org/ and now http://www.dunwoodyusa.com/.  And a reminder, if you ever want to find out about a Dunwoody property for sale, there is a permanent link at the top right of the website - simple click the photo at the top left under Dunwoody Homes for Sale.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Animal House and the Dunwoody City Council


Wondering what the movie clip above (click on the photo to watch) has to do with the Dunwoody City Council?  Keep reading.
Monday night I received a city of Dunwoody update from Councilman Robert Wittenstein (below) - he and Councilman Denis Shortal email updates on a regular basis. 
Normally I try to get the updates turned around and posted ASAP.   However, this time I had to think twice before posting Wittenstein's update.  The reason being - and as you will read - Robert talks about creating "transparent government."  He talks about becoming, possibly, the first city in Georgia to put its checkbook register online. 

While I think that's great, the lack of transparency the city council showed in the proposed $19 million, 42-acre purchase off Peachtree Industrial is a slap in the face of every resident of Dunwoody.  City council should be ashamed (Councilman Shortal was the only one who voted against the purchase). 
In what appears to be an obvious effort to sway next Tuesday's vote on the parks' bonds, and perhaps to ensure there was no public dissent (especially from the families whose lives this decision effects), council waited until the final minute to put the purchase on last Monday night's council meeting agenda (why the rush)?  You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to come to that conclusion. 
This very well could be the largest purchase by the city in our lifetime, yet council takes a vote on it before letting the taxpaying citizens of Dunwoody have their say.  Are you kidding me? 
Whether you are for or against the parks' bonds, this was flat out wrong.  That's the kind of transparency we got from Vernon Jones.  The citizens of Dunwoody deserve better from a council that had, previously, earned very high marks for transparency.
Wondering about the photo above?  Council's last minute, dark-of-the-night October Surprise in putting this item on the agenda, reminded me of the scene in Animal House when Dean Wormer put the Delta House on double-secret probation.  Except the Dean's move had some merit. 
By the way, below is Councilman Wittenstein's update on transparency.

Update from Councilman Wittenstein

I talk a lot about creating "transparent government" and I want to share an important success with you. I have worked over the last year to get the city to put its checkbook register online. As far as I know, we are the first city in Georgia to do this. While doing research on a different topic, I stumbled upon a city in Florida that posted its check register on its web site and I thought this was a great idea.

The check register has always been public information but historically it required an open records request to find out exactly what the city was buying, who it was buying from, and how much it was paying. Now Dunwoody residents can go online and see the details here: Explore Check Register.
This is dry reading and there is nothing earth shattering in the details but I think it is important to all of us to be able to see exactly how our tax dollars are being spent. I appreciate the other council members and the staff supporting me in this initiative. In the future, I hope we can enhance it so that it is searchable and sortable but this is a great start. This is what it means to create transparent government and I challenge other cities and DeKalb County to do the same.
In other news...we heard loud and clear that many Dunwoody residents were "for parks" but wanted to know exactly how funds would be spent before voting for the parks land acquisition referendum on November 8th. To help voters understand the intended use of funds we have now signed a letter of intent with the owner of two old, run-down, apartment complexes next to the Water Works that front Peachtree-Industrial Boulevard. If the parks acquisition bond referendum passes, the city will purchase one apartment complex for a park and the current owner will demolish and redevelop the other apartment complex into owner-occupied housing.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Parks and Updates


Dunwoody's parks' bonds are attracting attention across the city.  Click on the photo above to watch CBS-46's story on the city's intent to tear down the Dunwoody Glen apartments and turn the land into athletic fields.
I've been quiet since Monday night's last-minute, suspiciously-timed announcement by city council on its loosely-defined plan to spend $19 million to purchase the apartments off Peachtree Industrial, and potentially construct ball fields (or so we are told).  Why the rush?  Is it morally right to essentially eviction five percent of Dunwoody's population, without a relocation plan for these families?  I would like to see fewer apartments and more owner-occupied properties in Dunwoody, but there are better ways to accomplish this.
I agree, parks are right.  However, these bonds are wrong.
I hope to share more of my thoughts in The Crier next week, but for now, read the words of Dunwoody Farmer Bob.  It's hard to argue many of his points.

Update from Councilman Shortal

Councilman Denis Shortal has sent out his regular update.  It's extremely late and I'm staying up well past my bedtime to watch an amazing Game 6 of the World Series, so instead of the time-consuming process of reprinting his words and searching for appropriate photos, you'll have to click on Councilman Shortal to read it.  And with that - this white-knuckler of a game just ended, the Cardinals, in dramatic fashion, beat the Rangers 10-9 in 11 innings to send the Series to a deciding Game 7.  Amazing!  Oh by the way, General Shortal is a Cardinals fan from Missouri.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dunwoody Set to Purchase 42 Acres for Sports Complex


Below is a release from the City of Dunwoody, which has made plans, if the park's acquisition bond passes, to purchase a 42-acre apartment complex off Peachtree Industrial (between Tilly Mill Rd. and Winters Chapel Rd.)  and turn it into a sports complex.  The cost of the purchase is $19 million. 
One of the major problems I've had with each of the two bonds is the lack of specifics.  This certainly goes a long way towards answering some of my questions regarding specifics.  However, I still feel the city is taking on too much debt (this is a want and not a need), and with this purchase, why is the purchase of the old Emory Hospital site necessary?  What becomes of that land? 
The potential purchase of this property is a big step in the right direction as far as specifics, but there are still many unanswered questions.

Dunwoody, Ga. – October 24, 2011 - The City of Dunwoody has concluded negotiations with Cortland Partners, LLC and plans to acquire 42 acres of land for $19,000,000 on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard for the development of a consolidated sports complex. The new sports complex would replace the existing 519 unit Dunwoody Glen apartment complex. In addition to the new sports complex, in the Letter of Intent, Cortland Partners agrees to demolish and redevelop the adjacent 266 unit Lacota Apartments Complex into owner occupied housing in concert with the development of the sports complex. The total site includes 63 acres and over 785 existing apartment units.

“This purchase sets in motion the accomplishment of many of the goals in our adopted Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan,” said Mayor Ken Wright. “It provides us with adequate space for a much needed sports complex to meet the needs of our youth as well as freeing up Dunwoody Park for the expansion of the Dunwoody Nature Center.”
Mayor Wright continued, saying, “The City regrets the need to displace residents (785 apartment units), however, in a built out environment like Dunwoody, we have found it challenging to locate a sufficient amount of vacant land for the athletic facilities desired by the community. The City will work with Cortland Partners on a transition plan for the current residents, which includes 560 school age children who are in the Dunwoody cluster; all current leases will be honored without the threat of early cancellation.”
This purchase is contingent upon the passage of the Parks Bond for Acquisition (Nov. 2011). If the referendum fails, the City will drop the contract without financial penalty.
City Manager Warren Hutmacher explained, “Combined with the 19 acres under contract on North Shallowford Road, with this purchase the City has identified for the voters 61 acres of property that will be purchased if the Parks Bond Acquisition referendum passes. This deal provides an assurance to the voters for how over 75% of the bond funds ($25,000,000 out of $33,000,000) will be spent.”
Mr. Hutmacher continued, saying, “The remaining bond funds will likely be spent on some smaller neighborhood parks and the acquisition of land for a ’Town Green’ in Dunwoody Village. This purchase provides transparency for the citizens of Dunwoody; when the voters go to the polls, they will now know what properties will be purchased if they approve the Parks Bond Acquisition referendum.”
For more information please contact City Manager Warren Hutmacher, at 678-382-6700.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Last Candidate Forum

If you still are undecided who to vote for in the November 8 elections, there is one last candidate forum 6:45pm Tuesday night at Peachtree Charter Middle School. 
The forum is on sustainability and will be geared towards questions on topics such as solid waste management, air & water quality and sustainable funding.  There is a meet-and-greet from 6pm-6:45pm.

City Council Meeting

The Dunwoody City Council meets this evening at 6pm at City Hall.  There is a work session followed by a voting session.  Click here for the agenda for the voting session.  Among the items to be voted on:  the 2012 budget.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Busy Weekend In Dunwoody


Have your weekend plans finalized yet?  Dunwoody is hoping with activities.  Of course first and foremost, the second annual Dunwoody Music Festival at Brook Run Park, put on by the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce.  Click on the link above for all the details.  The highlight of the weekend - Saturday evening's "Stars of the 80's Rock" featuring former band members from the groups 38 Special, Billy Joel, Starship, Sheryl Crowe/Stevie Nicks and Survivor. 

The Rotary Club of Dunwoody, along with my Keller Williams Atlanta Perimeter office, is sponsoring Saturday morning's RunDunwoody - a 5K/1 Mile Fun Run/Tot Trot that begins at 8am.  For details, click on RunDunwoody.

This weekend Dunwoody Elementary School will host the inaugural Tour de Dunwoody - Saturday, October 22nd. This fun filled friends and family event will have plenty to offer every level of rider. For kids that are just starting out and have training wheels, we will have a short course set up in the school parking lot (tour begins after the road course is open). For the advance rider, we have a 3 mile ride (about 30 minutes) starting at the school and then taking to the streets of Dunwoody, escorted by Dunwoody Police (please note only bicycles are permit on the course, jog strollers, skateboards and scooters are not permitted due to safety concerns of any pedestrian). Click Tour de Dunwoody for more details.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Worthless Endorsement

This week the Atlanta Board of Realtors announced endorsements for the Dunwoody mayor and city council races.  I am a proud member of the Atlanta Board, which has an exceptional track record of helping home buyers and sellers, and homeowners in general.
However, the Atlanta Board's endorsement of candidates should be taken with a grain of salt.  As should the endorsement of any Political Action Committee.  The very nature of PACs is to look after their own interests, first and foremost.  In this case, it is the interests of residential and commercial Realtors, and not the citizens of Dunwoody.  And at times the Realtors interest clash with those of the citizens.  For example - impact fees.  Rarely do Realtors want impact fees, which could stifle development.  However, the impact of development can take its toll on schools, roads and stormwater.  Who should pay for that - the developers or the taxpaying citizens?
For more on the endorsements by the Atlanta Board, read this blog post on Dunwoody Talk.  You be the judge.

Transportation Plan Working

Since Dunwoody Elementary School Principal Johnathan Clark enacted a new transportation plan, I understand traffic flow into and out of the school parking lot has improved greatly in the morning.  I've yet to drive the route in the am, but I hope that's the case.   Now if we can just get a Dunwoody Police Officer directing traffic at the four-way intersection at Vermack and Womack for an hour in the morning ...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Candidate Forum Tonight


NBC used to call its Thursday night lineup - which included Seinfeld and ER - must-see TV.  Well Thursday night's 7:30pm candidate forum at the new Dunwoody High School auditorium might not be must-see TV, but it should be both informative and entertaining. 
The forum will feature all the candidates in the November 8th vote that will elect three city council persons as well as a new mayor.  There actually will be three separate forums - or debates.  The first will pit the three candidates vying for the District 1 At Large position:  incumbent Robert Wittenstein, Terry Nall and Rick Callihan.  The second forum is the two candidates vying for the District 2 At Large position:  Kerry de Vallette and Lynn Deutsch.  The third forum is the three candidates vying for mayor:  Mike Davis, Bob Dallas and Gordon Jackson.
In all individual forums,  each candidate will have the opportunity make a one-minute opening statement.  That will be followed by questions to the candidates by moderators Dick Williams of the Dunwoody Crier and Peter Cox of Dunwoody Patch.  Then, each candidate will be given the opportunity to ask one question of an opponent.  Finally, a two-minute closing statement.
The entire program will last approximately 90-minutes to two hours.  The DHA will hold a second forum at 3pm on Sunday at the Georgia Perimeter College auditorium.

Parks' Bonds

In case you missed it this week, my fellow bloggers at Dunwoody Talk and Dunwoody Farmer Bob both had interesting pieces on the parks' bonds.  Even thought it's irrelevant how the candidates feel about the parks' referendums, as they are on the ballot and cannot be removed, I have a feeling they will be a large part of Thursday night's forum.  I'd like to ask each candidate, "if the bonds pass, what projects take priority?"  With that said, I feel both bonds will fall well short of passage.

New DES Transportation Plan

I saw the following article in the Dunwoody Patch on a new transportation plan for Dunwoody Elementary School.  If you haven't driven on Womack Rd. in the morning - don't do it!  The traffic is a disaster.  A nice story by Rebecca Barria.  I hope the city and the school are sincere about fixing the problem.

The woes of Womack Road traffic and how a new Dunwoody Elementary School transportation plan, currently in the planning phase, may help alleviate congestion.
"This isn’t exactly safe,” my neighbor recently said to me as we walked our kids down a sidewalk-less side-street towards Dunwoody Elementary School (DES).

Drivers, bikers, and pedestrians didn’t so much share the road as dodge each other in very slow motion. Fortunately, everyone appeared hyperaware and we arrived in one piece to the sidewalk on Womack Road. Due to heavy congestion, we made better time on foot down Womack Road than the motorists. Literally.
Click Dunwoody Patch to read the full story.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Meet the Candidates


We now are just four weeks away from the November 8 elections - do you know what the candidates stand for?  If not, take the opportunity to meet with them, and ask questions.  Mayoral candidate Mike Davis has a "meet and greet" Tuesday evening at Village Burger (he's buying the frozen custard), and then Thursday night is the first DHA candidate forum at the new Dunwoody High School auditorium.  I plan to be at both - hope to see you there.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Update From Councilman Wittenstein

The following update was sent out late last night by Councilman Robert Wittenstein.  I think Robert and council have done a great job being guardians of our tax dollars, although, I'm still not onboard with the parks' bonds that Robert favors.  The size of the bonds is too large, and we, the voting public, have little specifics.  Concerning the 2012 budget, this line caught my eye, "Our findings call for an increase in the fee paid by property owners to support the enormous cost of repairs and improvements to our drainage system. Council will vote on a potential fee increase in conjunction with the setting of the millage rate."  I have no idea about the size of a potential increase, but the language does scare me!

Dear Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,

We have successfully completed the transition to ChatComm's 911 system. The cutover went smoothly thanks to the hard work of a large number of people over many months
The most important item coming before council in October is the 2012 budget. I served on the budget committee and we combed through it in agonizing detail. There were a lot of compromises as we discussed competing priorities and I am proud of the results.

While other local governments are suffering from cutbacks, Dunwoody finds itself in the unique position of having more funds to spend on services this year than last year. This is due to several factors:

  1. We had a very competitive and successful bidding process for city services. The vendors we have contracted with will provide the same level of service-or in some cases higher levels of service-at lower costs over the next three years. This will save us almost a million dollars a year. It once again demonstrates that a public/private model with a competitive bidding process is a powerful tool for city services.
  2. As I mentioned in my last update, the state Department of Revenue released HOST funds which are restricted to capital improvements but will allow us to make some much-needed investments.
  3. Many of our startup expenses have been covered. We have paid off much of our original debt associated with starting the city. Also, 2012 will be the first year where we don't have a major (and expensive) comprehensive planning initiative.
The result is more money available for Roads, Parks and Police-without a tax increase. Funding for police is going up 6%. Most of this will be for a new four-person unit focused on crime prevention. Funding for parks will increase to $2.1 million. The proposed budget calls for us to spend an additional $2.5 million on repaving and a $1 million on new sidewalks.

During the budget process, I pushed for a small property tax rollback. However, I was persuaded that it was more important for the city to build our reserve fund at this stage in our development. The 2012 budget calls for a substantial amount set aside for reserves including $1.5 million to start a police vehicle replacement fund. This will allow us to replace our fleet in coming years without having to borrow from the bank to do so. I'll continue to push for a modest rollback in years to come. (Provided I'm still on the Council!)
There is one item in the budget that causes me concern and that I will oppose. In the context of a $22 million budget it is a small item, but it is the principle. The budget includes $150,000 for "Gateway and Wayfinding Signage." This would involve pillars or arches over the major entrances to Dunwoody and themed signs directing visitors to places of interest. The expectation is that the $150,000 would cover about one third of the expected cost of $450,000, which would be spread over three years. While I would love for us to put up some nice "Welcome to Dunwoody" signs, I am convinced we can do so in a much more modest fashion.
The City Council will discuss the budget at our work session on October 10th and vote on it at our meeting on October 24th. As always, feel free to share your thoughts with me about our budget.
Enjoy these beautiful fall days and don't forget the Dunwoody Music Festival at Brook Run on October 22nd - 23rd.
Regards,

Robert

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Update From Councilman Shortal

I received this update from Councilman Denis Shortal late last night.  The General with some interesting thoughts on the parks' bonds, as well as the price for recent parcels of land that the city has agreed to purchase.

Good evening my fellow citizens .... the following are some update items of interest ....

1. Paving .... Paving is a good thing!! The paving of streets thru out the city is moving forward. Stripping and bike lanes, where applicable, are now being painted on the streets that have been completed. For those of you that live on the west side of town the paving of Roberts Dr has been moved back and will start this Friday (OCT 7th) at about 8:30 AM - weather permitting. The reason for the move back is that the schools are closed this Friday and Monday and it was felt this would reduce the traffic congestion on Roberts Dr. My hint to all of you is to avoid Roberts Dr on these four days to the max extent possible ... go around, use the back way to go to your destination, etc. .... again, avoid Roberts Dr OCT 7th thru the 10th and remember that "paving requires patience."

2. Sidewalks .... Construction on the sidewalk on Valley View has commenced. Construction on Happy Hollow sidewalks will follow. This will be a great enhancement to the quality of life of all the citizens who live in these areas.

3. Election ... My first of several updates. For complete information on the upcoming NOV 8, 2011 election go to this website ... http://web.co.dekalb.ga.us/voter/CurrentElectionInfo.html .... Items of importance on this page:
- In the center of this webpage you will see "A List of Sample Ballots" ... just go down and click on "City of Dunwoody" ... Remember, this is a city wide election and all citizens get to vote on candidates for ALL four offices.
- Further down on the above website click on "Election Calendar" ... Here you will note that the last day to Register to Vote, for the upcoming Nov 8, 2011 election, is OCT 11, 2011. You will also note that if a runoff is required it will be held on DEC 6, 2011. Please mark these dates on your calendar.
- To register to vote, click on "Voter Information" (second item on the top left of the above website) ... The second item that will appear in the center of this page is "Voter Registration " .... fill out the prepaid postage application and mail it in. Make sure you follow the instructions carefully. You should receive acknowledgement in 2 - 4 weeks. Remember OCT 11, 2011 is the deadline to apply and you must register if you have moved within state since last registering or have moved in from outside the state of Georgia.

- If you are going to vote "absentee" by mail click on "Absentee Application" ... this is the second item from the bottom in the center of the "Voter Information" page. Fill out the application and fax it in (404-294-4038) or mail the application to "Voter Registration, 4380 Memorial Dr, Suite 300, Decatur, GA 30032" and a ballot will be mailed to you. Absentee voting by mail is already open and ballots are being mailed out as of today. If you want to vote "absentee" in person you must go to directly to the Voter Registration Office noted above on Monday thru Friday between the hours of 8:00AM - 4:00PM. Absentee voting in person is open from OCT 17th thru Nov 4th.
- "Advanced Voting" will be open from OCT 31 thru NOV 4th from 8 AM to 4 PM. There is only one advanced voting location ... 4380 Memorial Dr, Suite 300, Decatur, GA 30032... which is just inside I-285.
- Identification (ID) ... Anyone voting in person via absentee, advanced or on election day must have a valid government issued photo ID.
- As a personal request, I ask each of you to exercise your privilege to vote .... a lot of great Americans have given their lives defending your voting privilege.

A general comment on the upcoming city election. Up for election are the Mayor's seat and three At-Large City Council seats. Remember this is an at-large election and all Dunwoody citizens gets to vote on candidates for ALL four offices. There are candidates running for these offices with very different philosophical, political and fiscal philosophies. I ask you to become informed on where the candidates stand on the issues not only on what they say but more importantly judge them by their actions ... past and present. As we all know actions are more important than words. Ask the candidates the hard questions and make them give you a straight forward answer. Know who is providing financial support for the candidates and who is on their campaign staff ... is it you the local citizens, or is it outside interest folks (meaning folks outside Dunwoody)? If it is outside interest then this should raise a "red flag". Your vote will determine the future of our City .... are we going to continue to enhance our infrastructure in a prudent fiscal pay as-you-go manner or, are we going to accumulate massive debts like the majority of the cities which are now in financial ruins across our nation? Remember there is a big difference between needs and wants and having "money in the bank" is a good thing!

4. Parks ... Someone recently said that I am against parks .... that is an untrue statement. I like parks and as proof that I present these facts ... I coached baseball at Murphy Candler and Dunwoody Senior parks for 10 years, I had the idea to start the Dunwoody Volunteer Coordination Committee (DVCC) and over the last two years we have had several hundred volunteer workers (that means no cost to you the good citizens of Dunwoody) enhancing our parks up to and including major construction work and on this NOV 5th there will be two hundred plus volunteers again doing all sorts of tasks to enhance our parks plus two hundred or more volunteers doing other tasks around our City. Along with many of you, I am also one of those DVCC volunteers. I think my actions compare very favorably to what anyone else in our City has done to enhance our parks. Now what am I against ... I am against saddling you, our great citizens, with massive debt and high taxes!! I promised you when I was Co-chairman of Dunwoody Yes and when I ran for City Council that I would work to keep your taxes low .... I assure each of you I will keep my promise!!!

PVC Farm ... We have closed on the 16 acre PVC Farm. The total price was approx. $5.2 million which we financed over a seven year period at about a 2.2% interest rate. I was in favor of this purchase as it is an "eyesore" and it was zoned multi-family thus, anywhere from 300 - 500 apartments could have been built there. I am not against apartments but I ran for office on the platform of "having the right mix of single and multi-family homes." I think we have more than an ample number of multi-family rental home. We closed on this property with a couple of legal issues still outstanding. That makes me a little uncomfortable but I have been assured the issues are not majors ones.

Hospital Sight Property ..... This is the old Emory Hospital on Shallowford Rd. There are 19 acres there and as part of the package deal was the purchase of 5 acres directly west of the intersection of Peachford Rd and Shallowford Rd. The City has signed a "letter of intent" to purchase the 19 acres for $6,100,000 and 5 acres for $1,430,000. We are currently in a "45 day free look period" which includes appraisals, environmental test, title search, etc. Unlike the PVC Farm where we had only one appraisal, I have requested and I thank the Council Members for agreeing to now have two appraisals on all property purchases above $500,000 and under some circumstances a third appraisal will be required. Purchases under $500,000 will still require only one appraisal. The purchase of the 19 acres is dependent on your vote on the Parks Bond Referendum .... if the Parks Bond Referendum get voted down the purchase of the 19 acres is null and void. The 5 acre parcel purchase will be consummated at the end of the "45 day free look period" if all requirement are satisfactory. The stated purpose of these 5 acres is to extend Peachford Rd west of Shallowford Rd .... the one problem with this is that more property must be purchased to connect Peachford Rd westward to an existing road. I voted against both of these purchases for the following reasons:

- The 19 acre property is less than 2/10 of a mile from the PVC Farm .... why do you need a 16 and a 19 acres park only a "stones throw" apart?

- The property is zoned O&I and thus is not eligible to have multi-family (or any other kind of homes) built on it unless the Council changes the zoning ... which I don't think has any support from this Council.

- The 5 acres purchase will come out of the general fund and add this $1,430,000 to the $5,200,000 for the PVC Farm we will have either $6,630,000 debt or our reserves are reduced by $6,630,000. Park Bond funds can't be used for these two purchases. After the 5 acre purchase, the owner of the property that we need to complete the road extension knows we need his property ... he maybe hard to deal with.

- We paid too much for the 19 and 5 acres parcels. Concerning the 19 acre parcel, I went to the presentation by the group that is promoting the Park Bond Referendum on Sunday night. Their slides showed a cost of $280,000/ acre .... these figures are low as the actual cost / acre of the 19 acre package is approx. $321,000/acre. There is also noted in their slides that several years ago the owners of this property turned down a $1,000,000/acre therefore the price we are paying is a good buy .... that is like saying in 2007 Bank America stock was $52 / share but does that mean it is a good buy today at $5/share .. not hardly.

A local commercial real estate person told me there is no current market for O&I zoned property, that the City is the only buyer in town and he wouldn't pay more than $100,000/acre ... I think that might be a little low but in my opinion it is not worth more than $150,000 to $200,000/acre .... at the maximum.

- There are a lot of developers, etc. out there with plenty of money in their pockets that deal in this type of property .... If the acreage we are buying is such a "good buy" why aren't these folks buying these properties?? That is a very good question!

- At our purchase cost, the city will lose over $20,000 in annual tax revenue from the 19 and 5 acre parcels which amounts to over $600,000 over the 30 year period of the proposed bonds.

5. Recycling .... My thanks to all of you who started recycling and joined the "Blue Box Brigade." As I go running (it is hard to call what I do running these days) and cycling thru the neighborhoods on Wednesday mornings I see a continuous increase in the number of citizens recycling. It is a win/win situation and BTW I am a convert to this cause. Go to this website ... Residential Subscription Curbside Recycling Application ... to join the "Blue Box Brigade" and to start recycling. It only cost $30 and DC will deliver to your home a "beautiful blue" plastic recycling box and 200 blue bags ... that is about a four year supply of bags.

6. Street Signs .... If you have road/information signs in front of your home or business I have ask you to grab a bucket with soap and water, a brush and a ladder and help beautify our City by cleaning these signs. As I drive around I see a lot of clean signs ... my thanks to all of you that have cleaned your signs. Also, if you have a neighbor that is having some health issues please do the neighborly thing and clean their signs.

7. Leaves ... Fall is coming and the leaves are starting to fall off the trees. As a reminder please ensure you don't put your leaves down our storm sewer drains as the leaves tend to clog up our storm sewers and this will add to our already high maintenance cost that we are incurring with the storm sewer problems. Many thanks for your compliance

8. Music Festival .... The second annual Dunwoody Music Festival will be held OCT 22 - 23, 2011 at our Brook Run Park. This was a big hit last year and Bill Grant has informed me it is going to be even bigger and better this year. Mark your calendar now for this big time event. Bring your chairs and prepare for a great weekend!

9. Clean, Fix and Shine-Up Dunwoody Day (CFSUDD) ...... Our third annual CFSUDD will be held on NOV 5, 2011. There will be several hundred volunteers working on numerous projects to enhance our City. Approx. 200 volunteers will be painting the remainder of our fire hydrants, another group will be gluing the required placards on our storm sewer drain covers, another approx. 200 volunteers will be working in our parks restriping the parking lot at Brook Run (BR), trail cleaning, trimming and blazing new trails at BR, Windwood Hollow and Perimeter Center East parks, repairing two foot bridges at DNC, repairing bridges at BR, working on the steps at Vernon Oaks North park and another approx. 40 volunteers will be doing Mayor Wright's # 1 project ... and since it is the Mayor's # 1 it also # 1 project ... cleaning the entry and exit ways on I-285 leading in and out of our City. Our local churches in Dunwoody spearhead this effort ... North Atlanta Church of Christ, Dunwoody Baptist, St Lukes Presbyterian, Life Center Church and All Saints Catholic Church and their Knights Of Columbus. Dunwoody United Methodist Church has their volunteer day on Oct 15th in support of our City. This year the Dunwoody Student Volunteers and various Boy Scout Troops for thru out our City have joined our volunteer work. On behalf of the Mayor and City Council I thank all of you for setting the example of what responsible citizenry is all about. I also recognized Jim Maloney and Bill Tobin, Chairman and past Chairman respectively, of the DVCC, for the work and dedication on this volunteer effort.

That is about it for tonight. Please pass this on to your friends, neighbors, members of your HOA or anyone else you maybe interested. If anyone want to be added to my email list please let me know and I will make it happen. Thanks for your continued positive support of our CIty .... it is a large source of encouragement to me.

Let Us Continue To Build Our City Together

Denny Shortal
Dunwoody City Council, District One, Post-1
Mayor Pro Tem
denis.shortal@dunwoodyga.gov
PH (O) 678-382-6700 (C) 678-246-9006