By Mayor Mike Davis

Our city parks, and the active and passive recreations opportunities they offer to the community, are critically important to improving the quality of life in Dunwoody. Quality parks and recreation opportunities are often cited as one of the top reasons for a family or a business to relocate to a particular area.

The city is dedicated to making Dunwoody a livable, active and healthy community. We adopted a Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan in June 2011, based on community input and participation, to clearly enunciate our needs in terms of parks and recreation as well as prioritize and plan for future investments into our park spaces.

One critical need identified in the Parks Master Plan is to provide additional recreational opportunities for middle- and high-school aged children. While the Skate Park, along with the future basketball, tennis and sand volleyball courts planned for Brook Run directly cater to this group, this key demographic is currently underserved by our existing amenities.

That’s why when we were approached by Treetop Quest about installing and operating a tree canopy obstacle course at Brook Run Park, we understood it as a timely, beneficial recreational opportunity for our community, in line with our vision for park offerings.

Tree canopy obstacle courses are popular recreational destinations for middle- and high-school aged children, as well as adults and corporate event planners. In fact, I recently visited the Treetop Quest Gwinnett facility and was impressed by the operation. And even though it was being used by 80 to 100 teens and pre-teens, the course was surprisingly quiet. Primarily because the kids were concentrating so much on the course itself, there was little to no squealing or yelling at all.

By negotiating a public-private partnership with Treetop Quest, the city would work with a highly-specialized vendor to operate, at no cost to the city, a beneficial new amenity. The city would also share in the revenue generated from admission fees to the course, creating multiple successes out of one venue.

Additionally, along with several of my fellow council members, we are seeking potential contract terms and provisions to offer special rates, coupons or field trip pricing especially for school children in Dunwoody.

But the essential benefits aren’t simply concentrated on revenue dollars. The proposed obstacle course would be situated in about four acres of a currently dormant area of Brook Run, activating seldom-utilized and valuable park space. The city would ensure the exact course maintains adequate buffers to protect residential property bordering this part of the park.

The city is also working with Treetop Quest to design and install an obstacle course based on guidance and expertise of certified arborists. This environmentally sensitive approach would certify the course would be installed with wedges and pre-fabricated platforms which are affixed to the canopy without nails, screws or any drilling into the trees themselves.

Both the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce and the Dunwoody Convention and Visitors Bureau have shared with me their enthusiasm and support for the tree canopy obstacle course at Brook Run Park. They realize the overall economic benefits and sustained value to our local economy that such an amenity would bring to Dunwoody.

According to studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, creating, improving and promoting places to be physically active can improve individual and community health. This treetop course could literally and figuratively bring our park participants to new heights, new adventures and lasting memories.

The truly great cities have active and passive park amenities which are used by residents and visitors. This is an opportunity for Dunwoody to provide an active recreational resource that can become another gem in the crown of our vibrant park infrastructure.

Mike Davis is mayor of Dunwoody.