Earlier this year, Dunwoody began having conversations about a possible bond. While residents won’t see this happen this year, the city is pushing forward with plans to prepare one for 2023 as quickly as possible.
After months of public input, council, and committee meetings, Dunwoody ultimately decided to not put a bond referendum on the November ballot for residents to vote on. A Capital Prioritization Committee made up of members of the Dunwoody City Council recommended holding off, believing the city did not have enough shovel-ready projects.
Two of the projects that were included in the bond discussion this year were park projects at Vermack Road and Roberts Drive. Some council members expressed concern over including those projects, which were still in draft stages at the time.
“How critical is it that we have something for people to consider if we’re wanting to fund those?” said Councilmember Rob Price at a June 13 council meeting. “I think that’ll be important for people to decide, whether or not they like this.”
Since deciding not to move forward with a bond this year, the city has been preparing for the possibility of one in 2023. At an Aug. 22 council meeting, Assistant City Manager Jay Vinicki said that city staff recommended that the council explore a few possibilities. One was a $30 million bond to develop the Austin and Vermack sites, as well as some improvements to Brook Run Park.
At a Sept. 6 meeting, the council discussed the draft master plans for the two future parks projects, which are expected to be before the council for approval by the end of October.
The draft plan for Vermack Road includes an open play area, a playground, pickleball courts, restrooms, pavilions, and a gazebo. The Roberts Drive draft plan included a multi-purpose field, tennis courts, pickleball courts, one full basketball court and two half basketball courts, an older and younger children’s playground, and a splash pad.
City spokesperson Jennifer Boettcher said that consultants are developing some alternative site plans based on feedback from the Sept. 6 meeting.
Another possibility that staff recommended at the Aug. 22 meeting was that council look at a $30 million bond to develop a citywide trail system. This would require a full citywide trail plan to be adopted by next year.
At the Sept. 6 meeting, the council also approved an agreement with the PATH Foundation to move forward with creating a trails master plan. The PATH Foundation is a group that works to develop trail networks throughout the metro area. The formation of the master plan is expected to take 6-8 months.
Throughout the first round of town hall meetings about a bond this summer, some Dunwoody residents expressed concern over the city’s communication efforts about the bond and the proposed timeline of the bond itself. Also at the Sept. 6 meeting, the council approved the creation of a Citizens Advisory Capital Improvements Committee, which is tasked with reviewing the city’s capital improvement needs and making recommendations to the council, according to city documents.
The committee met for the first time on Sept. 14, and is expected to meet five more times before the end of the year. The committee’s last meeting is Dec. 7, but Vinicki said it is possible they finish before that date.
According to a timeline presented at the Aug. 22 meeting, council is looking to vote on a possible bond resolution at a May 2023 meeting.