I have a passion to connect our community in more ways than one - including human-powered means. But what's more so is my love of Dunwoody: Protecting our community. Improving public safety. Looking at how we spend our city taxpayer dollars and asking "What else we could be doing?"; being engaged, building coalitions and creating a better city TODAY.
Feedback for 1/21/2016 Dunwoody Town Hall
Here’s what I posted to offer as items of discussion for the Dunwoody Town Hall meeting scheduled for the evening of 1/21/2016.
Offer & fund an ACTIVE Parks & Recreation Department -- Actually offering PROGRAMMING to our citizens much the way it is in Brookhaven, Sandy Springs & Roswell. Presently, Dunwoody offers ZERO programming, and instead "outsources" it to the volunteer groups in town. More & more couples in the younger generation are both working full-time jobs, with business travel and family obligations. What if they simply want to come back to Dunwoody and experience and partake in a program that is offered by the city? Sorry. You have to pay to play here. Want to swim? Pay a private club. Tennis? There's TWO tennis courts at the Windward Hollow park. For 47,000 residents to use. And no bathrooms there, either. And some of our working-class families simply cannot afford club memberships.
a. The number one priority needs to be SAFETY-vs- straightforward repaving. Want to "fix" something? Show where it lies with safety metrics. How many collisions have there been? How many injuries? Does this help people walk or ride a bike a couple of miles safely, instead of HAVING to drive in a car? Do we employ best-practices engineering for traffic calming measures, designing our streets so that motor vehicles actually drive at or BELOW the posted speed limits at all times? Or, does simply this increase motor vehicle throughput? We definitely need mid-block pedestrian crossing islands along our major roads to slow traffic, and increase safety for pedestrians. We've spent tens of thousands of dollars on two separate "laser truck" analyses for pavement conditions. Based on that, a worst-is-first paving plan is made. I propose making a worst-is-first project list with funding based on SAFETY. Yes, eventually your street will be repaved. But first, we need SAFE places to move about in our city. Of course patching and filling potholes needs to take place.
b. Look at ways to reduce cars on our streets, instead of ways to move them through our city faster. Spending almost $5M on the Tilly Mill / North Peachtree / Peeler intersection may help in the mid-term. But instead of spending $4M for that single project, imagine spending $50-$100k/year on staffing to start programs to reduce car driving. Examples include: Reducing GA Perimeter College student traffic (e.g.; pay for parking, establish a shuttle bus from the North Atlanta Baptist church parking lot), reducing parents voluntarily driving their kids to school (work with DeKalb County Schools on restructuring the bus schedules, adopt & encourage an active "Safe Routes to School" program for kids to safely walk or ride their bikes to school on a daily basis), Establish a public circulator bus system in the Perimeter business district (PCID). Presently, individual businesses and properties offer their own private shuttle buses. Adopt paid parking in the PCID area for single occupant drivers, or free if they carpool or ride share.
c. Inform the public where the funds come from to pave our roads, and ask them if this is an appropriate funding level. In the 2014 budget, we spent $4,085,000 on paving our streets. Motor vehicle taxes & fees accounted for $728k, or 18 percent of the total paving budget. The remaining $3,357,000 – or 82% of the remaining funds came from HOST and general funds. That $3.3M represents the subsidized amount we are reallocating, which could POSSIBLY be used to invest in safety projects, parks and such. In contrast, the 13 square miles of Dunwoody spends more on paving than Douglas County with 200 square miles.
Open up to the general public the ballfields at Dunwoody Park. Presently this public parkland is managed by a private pay-to-play organization called "Dunwoody Seniors". They even have reserved parking spaces designated. Allow kids or families play a pick-up game of softball on a "first come, first served" basis. Further, conduct an evaluation of the use of the fields by Dunwoody residents. What percentage of the users live in Dunwoody? If we had to start from scratch with a master parks plan, would it include these pay-to-play organizations being subsidized with public funds?
4. Non-Profit to Support our Parks
Establish a legitimate 501c(3) non-profit "Friends of Dunwoody Parks" (etc.). 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 swing set in a park, it won't be ripped out in a year because it wasn't in the city plan.
5. Invest in Trails
Continue to invest in building out a connected multi-use trail / greenway system. Trails are responsible for a 4 to 7 percent increase in property value for homes within one-quarter mile.
6. Outreach to Millennials
Outreach to Millennials in city planning. By 2020, nearly half (46 percent) of all U.S. workers will be Millennials. What is the city proactively doing to reach out to this population segment to encourage and support Dunwoody as a great place to work, live and play over the next 10-30 years?
7. Affordable Housing
Adopt Affordable Housing component for new residential developments. To ease traffic woes, employees need the option of living close to their work. Including entry-level workers. How many of the Dunwoody Police force or other employees live within our city limits? Adopt incentives for city employees to live in Dunwoody.
8. Dunwoody Village
Build out the Dunwoody Village Master Plan and make it the true “center” of our city with a public green, and live-work-play destination to compete with Roswell’s Canton Street. Create incentives as necessary.
9. Re-Write Dunwoody Village Overlay District Laws
Re-write the Dunwoody Village Overlay District ordinances. It has never been adjusted to reflect the possibility of humans living in the district. Adopt mixed use ordinances that allow for retail, commercial and residential to be used on the same property lot based on free market demand. Present limitations include: no patio/porch facing the building fronts (along Dunwoody Village Parkway) and flat rooftops (which would allow for rooftop garden patios).
10. Eliminate minimum car parking requirements
Eliminate minimum car parking requirements for developments. Instead, place a maximum on them. There are dozens & dozens of extra acres of paved asphalt in our city that can be repurposed for human-use, creating public greenspaces, parks or live-work-play mixed use. This increases the ROI on a per-acre basis adding additional revenue to the city’s coffers.
11. City Council needs to vote on all new development plans
Add Council vote of development plans, avoiding a repeat of the outcome of the 32-acre Vermack “Desert” development. That land was zoned R-100, was sold to a developer and staff internally approved the development. City Council did not get a chance to review or vote on it, as there were no variances. What happened? Not a single square inch of public space was carved out for that neighborhood of 50+ homes. There is no community green, park or any place for the local residents to congregate. It is a dead-end cul-de-sac neighborhood, putting all of its traffic out onto Vermack. Today’s livable, walkable communities are built on a grid network offering a “sense of place” and options for humans to be able to get out of their cars to be together.