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.


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 ... .... 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
PH (O) 678-382-6700 (C) 678-246-9006

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Story Behind Video Sweeping Dunwoody

By Nedra Rhone
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Land of Birkenstocks. Sweater vests. Moms who stay home with their kids.
Dunwoody, where the values of suburban life come to life and the dudes with attitude from Dormtainment are running it.
Wait a minute. Who?
"We are creative college comedy, a college entertainment group of six," said Amanuel Richards, 24. "We formed in 2009 and we’ve been doing online sketches since then." With about 5 million views since June for 40 videos, the YouTubers are adept at getting audience attention.
Their latest effort, "Straight Outta Dunwoody," had almost 40,000 views in three days, which doesn't quite compare to the 6 million views of NWA's 1988 paean to ghetto life ("Straight Outta Compton") on which the song is based. But hey, this time it's about the suburbs where things take time to catch on.
The idea came to them when four members moved to Dunwoody in April.
Click Straight Out of Dunwoody to read full story.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bike Around Dunwoody This Evening

Please join hosts
Rob and Sydney Weaver and Lindsay Ballow
Jere Wood, Mayor of Roswell
Fred Boykin, Decatur Councilmember & Owner of BicycleSouth
Dan Thornton, Owner of Free-Flite Bicycles & President, National Bicycle Dealers Association

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
Kicking off from:
Mellow Mushroom
5575 Chamblee Dunwoody Road
Dunwoody, GA 30338

6:00 p.m.* – Bike Ride (10-15 mile comfortable ride on the back roads of Dunwoody)
7:15 p.m.– Meet and Greet with Bob, Jere and friends at Mellow Mushroom

Pizza and refreshments served following ride.
Rider Note: Please wear a helmet and bring a taillight.
In case of rain, ride will be canceled, but meet and greet will proceed as scheduled.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Spirited DHA Meeting on Bonds

As promised, Sunday night's DHA meeting was spirited.  Former state senator Dan Weber made a presentation (the power point is courtesy of John Heneghan's Dunwoody North Blog) on behalf of the group Citizens for Dunwoody, providing non-partisan information concerning the city's two parks' bonds.  At least it was supposed to be non-partisan.

Dan Weber
Clearly Dan, a man of high character who's got a tremendous track record of accomplishment as a public servant for Dunwoody, has a passion for the parks.  He wants the parks' bonds to pass.  As a matter of fact, he will tell you that everyone that's part of his "non-partisan" parks' committee on Citizens for Dunwoody is in favor of the parks.  Heck, I want better parks.
But the fact of the matter is, the parks' bonds, as written, are flawed.  They have little specificity.  As a matter of fact, as Bob Lundsten points out on his blog Dunwoody Farmer Bob, there is no guarantee that land purchased for parks will actually become parks.

I asked a lot of tough questions at Sunday night's meeting (questions that won't help me win a popularity contest).  It seems inherently wrong that, at the end of the day, if the bonds pass, a homeowner's out-of-pocket tax money on parks-alone will equal that of all other city services combined!
As I told Dan, this issue causes me to think back to the early days of the city in its negotiations with CH2M Hill. I, like a lot of folks, didn’t see how we could get this city off the ground, without a major hitch, unless we used that company's services.  Then Dan stepped in. He thought outside the box and came up with the hybrid plan that was the linchpin for an amazing start-up to the city!
I don’t feel we, as a city, are thinking outside the box on parks. We aren’t following the lead that Dan, himself, set.
We are taking the easy way out – taxing the people. And with no specific plan. In speaking with District 1 council candidate Rick Callihan, I understand the Concorde Fire Soccer Club is ready to dump $2 million dollars into three synthetic turf fields if it can find a property to host the fields.  I hear a tennis group would like a public-private partnership for courts on the PVC farm.  I still wonder if Home Depot, Coca Cola or another Atlanta-based company would like to pay the city a generous sum for naming rights to one of our current parks?
Regardless of how you feel about the parks, it's our right, as citizens, to question of our public officials.  More than that, it's our obligation.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

DHA Meeting Includes Parks; Habitat

DHA Meeting
Click photo to see enlarged, complete DHA agenda
The Dunwoody Homeowners Association holds its October meeting at 7:30pm Sunday at the Cultural Arts Center next to the library (click on photo above to see full agenda).  Again the public is invited, and this month's meeting should be spirited.  I am interested to hear the presentation on the parks' bonds by former state senator Dan Weber.  According to an opinion piece in The Crier by Weber, "a group has formed under the auspices of the nonprofit Citizens for Dunwoody to provide balanced and factual information to the voters concerning the bonds."  I am told Dan may pass along some specifics on the bonds, although I'm not sure why he would be doing this and not the city (perhaps he's acting on behalf of the city, which seems rather odd).  
You don't have to read between the lines to know my feelings on the referendums - I'm extremely skeptical.  If the bonds pass, your out-of-pocket money on parks will equal that of all other city services.  Combined!  We still have many transportation issues that should take priority over parks.  Friday, my morning 1.8-mile round-trip to Dunwoody Elementary School took 27 minutes.  Dunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan tells me he doesn't have the resources to put a traffic officer on Womack Rd.  Shouldn't solving issues like this take precedence (maybe one officer for 45 minutes in the morning)?  How 'bout the Tilly Mill/N. Peachtree/Peeler interchange?
It's not like the city doesn't have any wonderful parks or that our current parks are overcrowded.  In addition, every school in Dunwoody has playgrounds and ballfields, and so do most swim/tennis facilities.
We need to separate our wants from our needs.  Money for parks will come in due time. 

Habitat for Humanity

I spent Saturday morning helping All Saints with its 18th Habitat for Humanity home.  This Saturday was the Knights of Columbus "build" day.  A crew of about 50 spent the day hanging exterior siding, painting the interior and exterior and constructing porches.
This year's home is off Langford Parkway and it's future owner is Tawanna, a hard-working mother of four.  If you've volunteered for Habitat before, it's an amazingly rewarding experience.  It's a chance for the volunteers to work side-by-side with the future owner and his or her family.  It's a chance to experience that family's appreciation, and to understand how much homeownership means to them.
Habitat does an amazing job of screening it's home applicants.  Of the 18 homes that All Saints has built (and I'm sure the other Dunwoody churches numbers are similiar), none of the owners have defaulted on their mortgage.