The Dunwoody City Council, after hearing about proposed modifications to two parcels of land designated to be future parks, deferred a decision on the master plans to gather more public input.
The parks, both around 10 acres, are located at 5435 Roberts Drive, the former Austin Elementary School, and 4809 and 4819 Vermack Road, which currently has two homes on the property. Both have undergone changes based on public feedback, but the council heard about some changes to the Vermack property, including a pathway from the Village Mill neighborhood, that they felt have not been fully vetted to the public.
“I’m particularly uncomfortable with the Vermack plan,” Dunwoody Mayor Lynn Deutsch said. “I feel like we’ve listened to residents about the Roberts Drive property and made changes based on that feedback, but we may not have done that with the Vermack property. “
Both plans have changed significantly after receiving feedback from the public as to various amenities that could be included in the final product. Instead of a one or two softball fields and batting cages at the Roberts Drive location, that area has been replaced by a multi-use field.
At the Oct. 10 meeting, the council looked at three options for the Roberts property that focused on the size of the multi-use field. The original size, 300 x 150 feet, would include two half-court basketball courts and one full basketball court. Another option would expand the field to 300 x 165 feet and have one full basketball court and one half-court, and the third would be 330 x 165 feet, and would have one full basketball court and one half-court.
All three options for the Roberts property would also include walking trails, two tennis courts and four pickleball courts, a splash pad, a pavilion, and an 8,000-square-foot ADA sensory playground.
The council’s consensus was that the second Roberts option would be the most amenable.
The Vermack property has also undergone some tweaking, and now includes a parks office, an open play area, a multi-use field, tennis and pickleball courts, an ADA/sensory playground and a splash pad. It also includes plans for solar panels that would power the restroom and park office.
However, council members, after hearing about some changes that were not previously vetted, expressed concern that the Vermack property tweaks may cause concern with neighbors. They voted unanimously to defer a vote on both master plans and divide the projects into two agenda items to be considered at the Oct. 24 meeting.
Building the parks is another issue. The 2023 parks budget does not include any funds for construction, which have been estimated to be $10 million for the Roberts property and about $4 million for the Vermack property. The council had discussed funding Vermack, Roberts and other parks improvements with a $30 million parks bond, but in September decided not to put a parks bond referendum on the ballot in November.
Discussions about putting a parks bond referendum on the ballot in 2023 are ongoing.