It’s a war of words around Dunwoody, as supporters and opponents of the upcoming parks referendum bond are posting signs around the city urging voters to take a stand.
Both sets of signs point to websites laying out arguments for and against the passage of a $60 million bond referendum, which will be on the Nov. 7 ballot.
The Dunwoody City Council voted 6-1 at its May 22 meeting to let voters decide if they want to finance major improvements to their city’s parks and trails. The proposed list of improvements includes the:
- Buildout of Homecoming Park, formerly referred to as Vermack Park and Wildcat Park on Roberts Drive;
- Acquisition of land and construction of softball fields at a site that has yet to be determined;
- Improvements at Brook Run and other area parks;
- Construction of four multi-use trails (in the Dunwoody Village area, Winter’s Chapel Road, North Peachtree Road and Mt. Vernon Road).
The “A Better Dunwoody” group, which is in favor of the bond referendum’s passage, is a grassroots effort by several dozen residents, according to Travis Reid, a Kingsley resident.
“We just want to point out all the advantages of improving the city,” Reid said. “We’ve had no serious improvements to the city yet and this is a great chance to advance our commons.”
Reid said the group has distributed about 100 yard signs and has raised $1,300 of the $5,000 goal, which will be used to purchase stickers, yard signs “and other advocacy.” Some of the signs urge residents to “vote yes,” while others have a picture of Daniel Craig as 007 that reads, “Bond Parks Bond.”
Reid said the James Bond signs are an attempt to throw a little levity into the situation.
The pro-bond site claims that the typical Dunwoody home valued at $500,000 would pay an extra $157.36 a year if the referendum is passed.
The “Vote No on Dunwoody Bonds” committee is comprised of five members, led by Tom Simon, a longtime resident of Stephen’s Walk who has been specifically opposed to the location of a proposed multiuse trail on Tilly Mill Road.
However, the “Vote No” website arguments expand its opposition beyond the trail locations. It claims that passage of the bond referendum will result in streets becoming unsafe and congested during times of construction. It also says that the city’s police department is in greater need of financial support.
“We are running the city at a deficit and we are underfunding our police department,” Simon said. “Why would we have a bond that will raise our taxes 50% when we have so many other needs?”
The opposition website says, “Bonds/debt do not improve the quality of lives for the overwhelming majority of citizens.” It also claims that 93% of Dunwoody citizens do not want multi-use trails and cites a feasibility study by the PATH Foundation that was released in February.
The survey that the “Vote No” website referred to, however, quoted a 2013 Portland, Ore. study that categorized four classes of bicycle riders – “strong and fearless,” “enthused and confident,” “interested but concerned,” and “no-way, no-how.” The study does not address whether voters in Dunwoody support or oppose multi-use paths.
The 2013 study shows that 1% are in the “strong-and-fearless” category, 7% are in the “enthused-and-confident” category, 60% are in the “interested-but-concerned” category, and 33% are in the “no-way, no-how” category.
“PATH understands that Dunwoody is not Portland and that it is likely that an even higher percentage of Dunwoody residents would fit into the ‘interested but concerned’ category,” the survey said. “The PATH team therefore targets the ‘interested-but-concerned’ population of Dunwoody, who are most likely to try riding bicycles (or who would ride their bikes more) if the trail network accommodates their needs for safety and connects to places they want to go.”
Simon acknowledged that the graphic included on the “Vote No” website incorrectly states that 93% of Dunwoody citizens oppose multiuse trails but said he and his committee have not been able to obtain more current information from PATH as it pertains to the will of Dunwoody voters.
“We’ve been asking for information from PATH and haven’t received it, so what are we supposed to do?” he said.