Melanie Williams places her dot on the goals board to signify the importance she places on preserving Dunwoody's historic charm during the April 23 "Needs and Opportunities" workshop at the Dunwoody Nature Center.
Melanie Williams places her dot on the goals board to signify the importance she places on preserving Dunwoody’s historic charm during the April 23 “Needs and Opportunities” workshop at the Dunwoody Nature Center.

Maintaining the neighborhoods and preserving the “historic charm” of Dunwoody were the two most popular goals of residents who attended the April 23 public workshop hosted by Dunwoody City.

As part of Dunwoody’s “Needs and opportunities” workshop series, city officials and planners want to develop “the framework for the future,” Jacobs Engineering Project Manager Jim Summerbell said.

“The state says we have to do a SWOT Analysis to identify the strengths, opportunities, weakness and threats, and we’ve kind of boiled that down to ‘needs’ and ‘opportunities,’” Summerbell said.

This provides the entire framework for the city’s future, he said.

A draft of the plan will be available in June, when the public will be invited back out for the last two workshops in the series.

Jim Blakeley, who has lived in Dunwoody more than 30 years, said he knows of places he doesn’t want Dunwoody to turn into.

“Preserve the character,” he said as an important goal for the city. He added that traffic is “a mess” along Ga. 400 and will only get worse, but he called Dunwoody “beautiful.”

Melanie and Jim Williams at the “Needs and Opportunities” workshop hosted at the Dunwoody Nature Center April 23.

Resident Melanie Williams said she is also interested in preserving the character of Dunwoody, where she’s lived for 38 years. She placed her dot on the third of ten goals for Dunwoody, which says “Maintain the historic charm of Dunwoody and the city’s heritage properties.”

She’s involved with the Dunwoody Preservation Trust and cites saving the Spruill House as an accomplishment of the trust. Now, she says DPT and residents like her “want to restore the Donaldson-Bannister house and make it available to the community as a park, where children and families can enjoy the innate personality of the farm.”

Williams said she believes in progress and doesn’t want to “live in the past,” but she feels strongly that too much development will hurt the city’s charm.

“It’s so important to not overdevelop because then I think we lose our heritage,” she said. “Green space is so important. I love the urban but don’t want to lose what so many of our forefathers worked for.”

After breaking down into three groups, residents talked more specifically about ideas.

Councilman Denis Shortal said he’s concerned with overall “protection of residential neighborhoods.”

Others talked in group about traffic calming efforts, increased parks and park programs and infrastructure to increase “walkability.”

Jeff Coghill said he knows the people he will eventually sell his house to will want bike lanes and walkability.

“We’re in a competitive and desirable neighborhood,” Coghill said.

The series of workshops helps Jacobs Engineering planners learn what the priorities of Dunwoody residents are. The first two workshops, which concluded March 2, provided an idea of the community’s vision and goals for the next five years. The second “needs and opportunities” workshop takes place Saturday April 25 at Dunwoody Baptist Church on Mount Vernon Road from 2 to 4 p.m.

Two future public meetings set for April will evaluate needs and opportunities, Summerbell said. Around May or June, two public meetings to develop a five-year work program and then a plan of action will take place.

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