Saturday, May 4, 2013

Can We Talk??? Dunwoody's Parks


Inner city getto, or showcase amenity in an affluent community?


In November, 2011 the Dunwoody's Parks Bond Referendum was defeated. Afterward, I posted the following thoughts to my Facebook account. I'm posting this here in hopes that our elected officials and the leadership of the city staff will decide that it's time to allow the citizens to have a seat at the table and have a conversation. We're a SMART City. So let's leverage that brainpower and take action.




If you have about 40 minutes, check out the above video for a detailed presentation introduced by former State Senator, Dan Weber. 

Yes, we're getting some new parkspace in the Georgetown area in Project Renaissance, and that's wonderful. But what about saying "where do we go from here"? What about Windward Hollow, Perimeter Park and the others? Yes, we don't even have a single public basketball court for our kids to play on. A couple of sand volleyball courts would be too easy to construct. 


Recently, a friend had a photo taken of her on Facebook (See top photo). She was sitting on the steps in front of a brick building. The windows were boarded up. There was graffiti on the walls and the exterior of the building was rusted and in disrepair. I HONESTLY thought she was in some run-down desolate inner-city area. But looking at the description, she was in Brook Run park! Would you see someone taking a photo in front of these abandoned, eyesore buildings & sending them to our local publication for a "Where in the World" are you photo op? 

Would a Realtor take a prospective homebuyer into our parks & show them off as they exist today? 

Yes, we do have some nice features to display -- IF you squint & keep a narrow field of vision. 

Facts:

  • The median household income of Dunwoody is over $74,000. Nearly DOUBLE the state's average. 


  • I pay more for garbage pickup than I do in City property taxes. 

I'm willing to fork over another $40-50 per year to INVEST in our parks, to make all of them a source of PRIDE for our community, and for prospective residents & businesses to see these & say, "yes, this is an even better place to live". 

What was that mantra for our incorporation again? -- Oh yeah: Parks, Police & Paving. Let's start the conversation. 

Here's what I said in November, 2011:


#1: Start the community conversation with Public Open Houses. Go over the Parks Master Plans. For each park, come up with two lists: a) a overall Top Ten of the 10 BEST projects / things that each park could have regardless of cost or scope. b) Then make a second top 10 list list -- but this time it would be focused on the lowest cost items, things that could be done through volunteers, donations in-kind, public-private partnerships, rather quickly, etc.

#2: Establish a legitimate 501c(3) non-profit "Friends of Dunwoody Parks" whatever. Use this non-profit to be able to seek out private donations, grants, etc. Donations in kind or cash, etc. for park amenities through this non-profit would then be a tax deduction for donors. Get some type of formal city-recognized partnership & understanding with this non-profit so that when they (for example) install a new swingset in a park, it won't be ripped out in a year because it wasn't in the city plan.

#3: Head on over to some of the big Fortune 500 companies in the PCID (ask Yvonne to introduce) and pitch the plan and see what they say. For more active recreation uses, if accessible for their employees, these corporations would have a buy-in (Healthier employees are less expensive).

#4: Educate the public about our millage rate, revenue, budget, & expenses by department / major activity. The more they understand how LOW our millage rate is, and what we are able to to -- and NOT do, the better we can create priorities and come to a consensus.

#5: IF talk ever came about for another bond, FIRST have lots of public meetings, formally establish a citizen's review & oversight board for full accountability and transparency, come up with a definitive project list THEN write the proposal for the referendum and the bond. --- Just my 2 cents....



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