By Maggie Lee

Brook Run Park and Dunwoody’s other parks are going to be changed to best fit what residents want and need.

To figure out what that is, the city will conduct a $10,000 mail survey and aim to collect about 250 responses.

“That’s $40 a lead. Wow.” City Councilman Robert Wittenstein said when presented with the proposal at the Oct 25 work session.

But Parks and Recreation Manager Brent Walker argues that by mail, the city will get a statistically valid sample and “if it’s going out to a random sample of the community you’re more likely to hear something who doesn’t use the parks and maybe what would get them to use the parks. “

Dunwoody is seeking input on a master plan to improve its six parks, including the 102-acre Brook Run Park, on 4770 N. Peachtree Road. The master plan will serve as a road map on park redevelopment, possible land purchases for future park space, staffing options, operations management, and future revenue sources and a plan for park maintenance. Meetings will be held:
Nov. 10, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.; City Hall; 41 Perimeter Center East
Nov. 11, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Dunwoody Baptist Church; 1445 Mt Vernon Road

Consultants Lose and Associates will do the survey as part of their contract to write the parks and green space master plan. They will send out about 2,500 surveys – $4 per mailer – and expect to get one in 10 back.

The survey adds $10,000 to the consultant’s bill, but according to Parks and Recreation calculations, Lose and Associates remains the lowest bidder on the overall parks plan.

There are problems with Dunwoody’s online survey, Walker says. “If one particular group is getting the word out by e-mail … it may skew the results.”

And it doesn’t catch people who are offline or don’t visit the city website.

“Even at $40 a pop, I think it’s worth it to get an honest sampling, to hear from folks who aren’t plugged in,” Mayor Ken Wright said.

“Yeah,” agreed City Councilman Doug Thompson, “I hear from the same 100 people all the time.”

Only City Councilman Denis Shortal drew a line. “I want it to be open to all input but there’s got to be a limit.” he said.“I think we ought to take the $10,000 and do what I like best: Put it in the bank,” Shortal said.

Shortal voted against the survey. Danny Ross and John Heneghan were absent. All others council members voted in favor.