The Dunwoody City Council is moving forward with a plan to build a future park on Vermack Road. 

During a June 14 meeting, the council approved a roughly $5.7 million, 15-year loan from Zion Bank to help finance the purchase of two properties, 4809 and 4819 Vermack Road. The city’s Public Facilities Authority initially approved a purchase and sale agreement for the two parcels – which are to be used as park land – at an April 12 meeting.

4809 Vermack Road
A Google image showing the property and house at 4809 Vermack Road.

According to Assistant City Manager Jay Vinicki, the bank will give the city the loan in full, and the city will make payments back to the bank of $448,000 a year. The city would accrue about $966,000 of interest over the life of the loan. 

The city voted to approve the terms of the loan, along with the actual purchase of the property through the Georgia Municipal Association’s Bricks and Mortar financing program. The Georgia Municipal Association is a state organization that represents municipal governments in Georgia. The Bricks and Mortar program offers a “lease-to-purchase” agreement, which would allow a tenant exclusive purchase rights to a property at a later date.

Vinicki said through the lease-to-purchase structure, the municipal association would own the property and the city would lease it from them. Then, at the end of the lease, the city would own the property. 

The city held a public hearing on the issue before voting to approve. Dunwoody resident Robert Wolford spoke in favor of the loan, and said he liked the fact that the council was making an investment in the city’s parks, especially considering how important park space had been throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“An investment like this – using our tax dollars to purchase land for parks and recreation – brings a benefit that isn’t seen in a quarterly statement,” he said. “COVID made that abundantly clear to everyone.”

However, former Dunwoody Mayor Denis Shortal spoke against the acquisition, saying he thought the item should be delayed until the city received more input from residents. 

“We’re having this [public hearing] right now, tonight,” he said. “Then six items down, you’re going to vote on it. I don’t think that quite gives time to vet … amongst the citizens the details of what this is.” 

Residents can view the passed resolution in its entirety on the city’s website. 

Update: This article has been updated with clarifying information about the payment schedule between the city and the bank.

Sammie Purcell is Associate Editor at Rough Draft Atlanta.