The city of Dunwoody received a $100,000 grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to construct a path in Brook Run Park, which would be 8 feet wide and constructed of asphalt, gravel and mulch, and which would follow existing pathways. The city’s portion of the construction cost was to be $32,000 for the entire trail.
Then, without seeking or obtaining public input, the city changed its original plan to a revised plan for a trail 12 feet wide, constructed of concrete and going through the heart of the most heavily forested part of the park. The new width results in clear cutting a swath as wide as 50-plus feet in the urban forest. It also results in a total cost of at least $420,000 while shortening the length by more than a half mile. And $420,000 is only for Phase one of the multi-phase trail.
The city has now made a second request to DNR for an additional $100,000 for phase two of the trail. The grant application states that phase two will be 8 feet wide and constructed of asphalt, gravel and mulch. The term “bait and switch” comes to mind. One would think that DNR would be concerned about the city requesting one thing while making plans to build something entirely different, but there seems to be no concern coming from the agency.
Justifying the changes from the 8-foot trail to the 12-foot trail, Dunwoody City Manager Warren Hutmacher, in a memorandum to the mayor and members of the city council dated Aug. 8, 2012, and available on the city of Dunwoody website, states “Each change was made to either save money, save trees or steer away from floodplain areas.”
Really? How can he possibly make that claim?
Regarding obtaining public input for the change, Hutmacher was quoted in the Feb. 27 Dunwoody Crier as saying, “We held two public meetings.”
However, Dunwoody Mayor Mike Davis was quoted in the Feb. 28 Atlanta Journal-Constitution as saying public input for the 12-foot trail was obtained in “more than a dozen meetings.”
But according to City Clerk Sharon Lowery there were no public meetings specifically and only for Brook Run Trail and the plans for Phases 1 and 2.
The city has alluded to needing a 12-foot wide path in order to meet ADA requirements. But at the same time in the city’s request for funding for an 8-foot trail for phase two, the city states, “The entire proposed trail will be designed and constructed following the new 2010 ADA standards for Accessible Design as adopted July 23, 2010.”
Although some have said opposition to the new trail is coming from a “tiny minority” of people, an online poll taken by 1,155 people indicates that 78 percent of those polled are opposed to the new trail; and a petition in opposition to the 12-foot trail has gained more than 1,100 signatures.
Citizens of Dunwoody are upset with city leadership, and from the foregoing evidence, it is easy to see why. While it is tempting for each of us to say there is nothing we can do, if you are bothered by these “inconsistencies,” to be polite, take the time to let your city council representative know.