The city of Dunwoody has created a special committee to rank the importance of projects ahead of a possible bond referendum. 

Mayor Lynn Deutsch announced the creation of a Capital Prioritization Committee during Monday’s Dunwoody City Council meeting. The committee will be in charge of prioritizing a list of capital projects the council initially viewed at its annual retreat in March. 

In addition to the Capital Prioritization Committee, the city also created something called the American Rescue Plan and Grants Committee. The members of the prioritization committee will be Councilmembers Joe Seconder, Catherine Lautenbacher, and John Heneghan, while the members of the grants committee will be Councilmembers Tom Lambert, Rob Price, and Stacey Harris. 

“One will be to look at the prioritization list we did and the other is to look at the funding and other funds we may have access to, and help us navigate this process where there’s going to be some intersection,” Deutsch said. 

Assistant City Manager Jay Vinicki said in an email that the prioritization committee is the beginning of a process that could lead to a bond referendum discussion, which could be placed on the ballot in November if it came to that. A bond referendum is a voting process that would allow voters to decide if a city should be authorized to raise funds for specific projects through bonds to be paid back over time. 

Vinicki also said there will be several town hall meetings before the list is finalized so that citizens can give input on different projects. The tentative dates for the meetings are May 17, 18, and 25, but locations and finalized dates will be announced at a later date. 

As the list currently stands, the top projects include a facility expansion for the Dunwoody Cultural Arts Center and Library, greenspace for the Dunwoody Village, future greenspace land acquisition and construction, multi-use paths along Peeler Road and Tilly Mill Road, and a facility expansion for the Dunwoody Nature Center. 

The full preliminary list of projects and how they are currently weighted can be viewed on the city’s website. 

Multiple residents spoke in favor of a possible bond during the public comment section of the meeting, particularly in relation to assisting with the city’s parks or building out the Dunwoody Village area. Susan Mitchell, who works for the Dunwoody Nature Center and also serves on the city’s Development Authority, said the city has numerous motivations for investing in its parks. She also mentioned that a bond might help the city build out its new parks at properties along Vermack Road and Roberts Drive, which was the site of the old Austin Elementary School. 

“A parks bond would allow a fuller realization of the parks master plan, equipping our city to improve existing assets, build out recently acquired properties at Austin and Vermack, acquire as appropriate additional properties, and continue improvements in connectivity and accessibility,” Mitchell said. 

Joan Dwoskin, who also works with the Dunwoody Nature Center, said a bond could help the center continue to serve the community with its classes, camps, and other initiatives. 

“A parks and greenspace bond will help us to continue delivering these services to the community and to further expand our vision to serve as a nature-based enclave for community activities,” Dwoskin said. 

One resident spoke out against a possible bond referendum.

“I am not against parks in any way shape or form,” said resident Bob Hickey. “All I say is that the city needs to live within its means.”

Sammie Purcell

Sammie Purcell is Associate Editor at Rough Draft Atlanta.