Monday, August 24, 2015

DeKalb Test Dates Conflict with Judaism Holidays

Here's the latest letter sent to new DeKalb superintendent Stephen Green.  The topic is DeKalb's plan to conduct ITBS testing during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

August 24, 2015
Dr. R. Stephen Green, Superintendent
DeKalb County School District                                                   
1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard                                       
Stone Mountain, GA  30083

Dear Dr. Green:
Three years ago, tests for DeKalb County gifted programs were set for the day after Halloween. But when parents objected—noting that their children wouldn't get a good night's sleep after eating candy and staying up late—the school district changed the date of the test. 

This story, as told by DeKalb School Board member Stan Jester and his wife Nancy Jester (a former school board member and current DeKalb commissioner), exemplifies why next month's CogAT and ITBS testing must be changed to avoid conflicting with Judaism's most holiest holidays.  Certainly Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur—the Jewish new year and day of atonement—deserve equal treatment with Halloween.

This year Jews will observe these days--on which they go to synagogue instead of working or attending school--on Monday and Tuesday Sept 14-15 and Wednesday, Sept. 23.  The testing is scheduled from Sept 9-25.

If the school district maintains this schedule, it will pressure Jewish families to violate their religious tenets so that their children can have the best chance to qualify for gifted and other special programs.  They shouldn't have to make that choice.

We are writing on behalf of a large group of concerned Jewish parents from a host of DeKalb schools, who met at B'nai Torah synagogue on Sunday to discuss this problem. 

We learned that the testing was moved from October to September: to get test results earlier so that gifted programs could start sooner.  We applaud that goal.  But achieving it this year, under the current schedule, treats Jews with remarkable insensitivity and subjects teachers and students to costly inefficiency. 

(The schedule also would appear to burden Muslims, who celebrate Eid-al-Adha on Sept. 24, and other religious minorities who have holidays in September.)

One veteran DeKalb teacher who attended our meeting noted that on typical make-up test days, "the assistant principal runs around like crazy" tracking down all of the children who missed tests.  This chaos will surely be more intense this year, given hundreds of Jewish children who will need make-up tests.  Just as examples, it is estimated that Jews make up at least 10 percent of Dunwoody Elementary and about 10 percent of Montgomery Elementary schools.  Parents who have expressed concern with us have children also at Vanderlyn, Austin, Chesnut, Peachtree Middle and other DeKalb schools.

The sheer volume of students missing the exams create logistical challenges for schools to find suitable rooms to conduct makeups.  More importantly, forcing these children to submit to makeup tests further increases their amount of time away from their classrooms.

Consider also that a sizable number of teachers are Jewish, meaning they will miss these days as well.  Given reports that there are 150 teacher vacancies in the system, holding tests on the Jewish high holidays will exacerbate this problem, as the schools will need to find even more teachers to oversee tests.

The issue of unfamiliar teachers giving makeup tests is a particular concern for parents of first graders.  Teachers read the test questions to first graders, but apparently strangers will read the questions for makeup tests, given that homeroom teachers are not pulled to do them.

During recent Curriculum Nights, teachers emphasized the great efforts made so that children are comfortable and focused on test days.  We can only assume that removing children from class to take make-up tests would be less comfortable and more distracting—especially because some may feel a stigma associated with their religion.

Finally, making it harder for any children to compete for gifted or other programs will cost the schools money, as we understand each child in these programs qualifies their schools for extra grants.  No one wants this result.

Again, we understand why the district wanted to give the tests earlier than in previous years.  However, we question how much earlier results would be available, given that the scores are presented as percentiles of a national sample.  That is, if scores from around the country have to be computed for any percentiles to be drawn, how much earlier can DeKalb hope to receive its results and start forming gifted classes?

Dr. Green, we know you inherited this schedule when you arrived last month, and we're sorry our introduction to you and vice-versa must occur on this challenging issue.  We are impressed with your previous achievements in Kansas City and New York, and we look forward to where you will take our district.

Particularly impressive is your track record on ensuring that all students have the same educational opportunities, notably in your work with the National Council on Educating Black Children and having been featured in Touching the Future: Minorities in Education, speaking on issues of educational equity, access, and achievement.

But we think to avoid the insensitivity and inefficiency described in this letter and ensure that all students have the same opportunities for success, a change must be made to the ITBS testing schedule.

As you noted in your response to Mr. Jester, there are a host of holidays for religious minorities in September.  Your calendar correctly pointed out that in Judaism, there are holidays through October 6.  Therefore we suggest that DeKalb testing be rescheduled along the dates similar to the most recent years, when tests began in the second week of October.

You will be receiving a letter from a group of concerned Atlanta rabbis, and we are confident they can provide you with any guidance you seek on these and future calendars.

Any of us would be glad to speak with you at your convenience as you consider this matter. 

We thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to hearing from you.


Monday, August 10, 2015

Uncle Arthur Throwing A Bone to DeKalb (Employees Only)

Arthur Blank recently sealed a deal here in DeKalb.  The sweetheart deal gives Blank millions of taxpayer dollars to build some practice soccer fields.  Of course, DeKalb County has never really had an interest before in building soccer fields, but when Uncle Arthur comes asking for a handout, the DeKalb political folks fall for his offer.

No need to hire Hyde and Bowers on this deal.  The trail of money is easy to follow.

And the thank-you from Uncle Arthur?  DeKalb County employees (not the actual taxpayers whose money was given away on yet another scheme) can buy Atlanta Falcon tickets at a discount.  This is too funny.  Yes, DeKalb workers can save $3 on Upper Level Endzone seats against the Houston Texans and the Washington Redskins.  Gee, thanks.  

Upper Level sideline seats ($65) and Lower Level Redzone ($110) tickets are available at a discount as well.  No need to speculate on what four DeKalb commissioners may be in a suite at the Dome for at least one game this season.

Too bad the Steelers weren't here this year as I really enjoyed watching the Falcons get beat at home by Big Ben.  The Falcons went 6-10 last season.  

Here's the email sent to DeKalb employees:

Go Falcons!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Millennials Will Not Always Live in Apartments

Lots of cities and counties in metro Atlanta keep talking about millennials and their desire to live beside a MARTA station, ride a bike on the street, and live in a 1,200 square foot apartment, surrounded by other millennials.

Sandy Springs has seen a huge growth in apartments.  Take a drive down near Costco and the Peachtree-Dunwoody Road Publix and you'll see the stick built units, lots of them.  It's almost as though Sandy Springs political folks forgot that today's shiny, new apartment will soon become a not-so-desirable apartment, and the city's high crime area.  it's a repeating cycle.  You can't show me one apartment complex in Atlanta that looks better now than when it was built.  Single family neighbors do improve over time as trees mature and the sense of community grows.  Well, the folks in Sandy Springs are slowing things down a bit.  They now have a moratorium on permits for new apartments in C1 and C2 zoning areas.  Mayor Randy Paul is taking heat from many voters (homeowners) and perhaps this was a factor in the moratorium.  Read about the Sandy Springs issue HERE.

DunwoodyTalk had a post about a year ago on a similar moratorium in 2014, HERE.

The apartment/PCID issue is nothing new.  Here's a piece written in 2011. This post discusses the PCID and its quest for higher density.

PCID Removes Jobs to Housing Ratio from Report

Prior to the incorporation of the City of Dunwoody, developers, DeKalb County, and the PCID took advantage of zoning loopholes and slammed the DeKalb section of the PCID with apartments while the Fulton County (Sandy Springs) grabbed new business tenants.  My vision is for the DeKalb section of the PCID to receive new businesses only - we have enough apartments on the books.  If the PCID wants more multi-family housing, let Sandy Springs have it.  We need jobs in Dunwoody, not apartments.  

A couple of weeks ago I posted information regarding the MARTA Villages planned for Dunwoody and Sandy Springs.  At the Dunwoody Council meeting two weeks ago, where the PCID plan was briefly discussed, at least one council member mentioned he did not like Jobs to Apartment mix suggested by the PCID.  He attempted to negotiate a better (I suppose better is the word) ratio.  The suggestion was lower than the current 9.25 but higher than the proposed 6.3 in 15 years.

I have an idea for council - how about insisting the PCID KEEP it at the 9.25?

The PCID has taken a different approach.  They've decided to take the Jobs/Apartment ratio out of their LCI update.  Brilliant. 

By taking out the jobs/apartments ratio, the PCID has achieved its ultimate goal - to plan for more and more and more multifamily apartments for Dunwoody and Sandy Springs.  High density is the name of the game.  So one or two on council suggest a ratio closer to 9.25  than 5.06 so they have some campaign fodder? We have candidates announced for council and mayor, and some up for re-election.  Ask them to ask the PCID to put the jobs/apartments section back in the LCI document and set it at 9.25 going forward (okay, perhaps an '8' will do).  Watch PCID laugh and pull the marionette's strings tighter.
State Farm recently announced they will build offices and bring jobs to Dunwoody, and will not use some of their land for apartments. This news is cheered my most, jeered by a few.  The neighboring High Street project will soon be built, adding 3,000 new housing units (1,500 apartments, 1,500 condos), adding to an existing inventory of multi-family units in the Perimeter area.

And back to those millennials.  Keep in mind that State Farm doesn't hire just millennials. They will hire people Generation X (the doers) and Baby Boomers (the Me gen) as well. 

The millennials will eventually have kids and buy homes.  They will not stay 'cool' forever and will download children (real children).  They will move from the noisy, crowded urban areas and buy a home.  Some (the white ones) may even move to Decatur and try to prolong their coolness another decade or so.  

Dunwoody doesn't need more apartments.  DeKalb County permitted enough back before we were a city.  And for once, it looks like Sandy Springs is following Dunwoody's lead.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Is Decatur Too White? By Design?

Decatur - The New White Flight 

Decatur is a small city to the south of Dunwoody, here in DeKalb County, GA.  What words come to mind when thinking of Decatur? We asked around and came up with these terms:  liberal, hipster, granola, diverse, wealthy, educated, Democrat.  We're not sure if this list is accurate, but it's a list.  Feel free to make your own.

Turns out, some people in Decatur think it's getting too white, as in too many white people. Some blame so-called gentrification. Latest census figures show Decatur at 73.5% white, and it's getting whiter (Dunwoody is below 70% and becoming less white annually). Decatur is whiter than Johns Creek, Acworth, Kennesaw, Alpharetta, and nearly every other city in Georgia.

Some of the Decatur elite will blame everything but themselves for becoming the whitest city in metro Atlanta, but it is its own tax rates that push poor and minorities away.  As real estate values increase, and with Decatur's high tax rates, many people can't afford to own homes in Decatur. People sell homes as the tax burden is too much, making room for more white people like the AJC's GetSchooled Ms. Maureen.  On a separate note, Maureen opposes new school districts in Georgia.  She has long opposed new independent school districts, and leases out her column space annually to guest writers  opposing new school districts.  Maureen doesn't care that DeKalb School District is corrupt, and doesn't believe people in Chamblee, Brookhaven, Dunwoody, Doraville, or other areas should be allowed to escape DeKalb's bad school system. Decatur has their cake (it's own school system), and no one else can have cake.  

Decatur has a great school system and wants to improve it.  That sounds great. Decatur keeps taxes high, forcing out poor and minority families, and keeping poor people from moving in. In October 2000 Decatur schools were 41% white, and in March of 2015 it was up to 61% and looks to increase based on enrollment data in PK and KK classrooms. Maureen will tell you that their (Decatur) schools are better because of smaller classrooms and better management.  We agree 100%.  But she won't tell you that a huge decrease in minorities (historically score lower than whites on standardized tests) has elevated test scores for the district.  

Those opposing independent school districts say that race is the main factor for independence, ignoring minority groups (such as the one in south Cobb) seeking the same.  It's the things Decatur does well (small district, local control, lower teacher student ratio, 70% of teachers with advanced degrees, increased test scores for all races, great administrators, etc.) that people in other cities seek for their school districts.  But the white hippie hypocrite in Decatur tells us to stay with the corrupt DeKalb School System.

Section 8 Apartment Building Damaged, Displacing 169 poor families?
Is there a new method of getting Decatur even whiter?  See HERE. Park Trace apartments is Section 8 housing in Decatur.  169 of 170 units are Section 8.  Decatur builds a new government complex that 'may have' damaged, unintentionally, these Section 8 apartments, according to a lawsuit by the apartment owners. If this building has to be torn down, don't expect to see 169 new Section 8 apartments.  Or will we?

Only in Decatur 
Decatur is giving taxpayer money ($109,000) to a group called The Art of Community to figure out how to stop all these white people moving in to Decatur. Read the story at Decaturish, the best site for everything in Decatur and the greater Decatur area. Decatur was 60% white in 1990, and nearly 74% in 2010.  A Decatur resident Don Denard said, “We have to be open to change. We have to have room in our minds for imagining a different way of being.” Apparently the change to becoming whiter in Decatur is not the change Mr. Denard seeks. It's Mr. Denard who is not open to change.

From the article, 'Mayor Jim Baskett said he was hopeful the plan would provide specific actions the city and its residents can take.' (to become less white).

Monday, July 13, 2015

New Bike to Change Opinions on Dunwoody Bike Lanes

It's been an uphill battle for the spandex crowd and granolas to get support for bike lanes. No matter what excuse put forth (less cars, green, no air pollution, millennials) the Dunwoody blue hairs have slapped down all of them. 

Most people view roads as a transportation system designed to carry people and goods from one place to another.  Roads were made for commerce and industry and moving people from A to B.  We build parks for recreation.  When people drive on roads for the fun of it, we call that cruising, and there are laws against it.  Or we call it NASCAR, and we have special tracks for that activity.

Many people are okay with bikers going to work or to the store on a bike, but it's the recreational bikers that seem to irritate people most.  Most people get in their car to go to work, to eat, or to go shop.  The spandex crowd gets on the road simply to ride around in circles for exercise and for their own enjoyment.  They are basically cruising for fun.  And we know no one should have fun around here.

Riding your bike to work or to get some groceries?  Okay.  Riding bikes with twelve friends, riding two wide on busy streets for the fun of it?  Not okay (according to a non-scientific survey published nowhere).

But alas, the bikers have found a solution to gaining more approval for bikes on roads in Dunwoody.  DunwoodyTalk is proud to announce The Dunwoody Cycle Bar, aka the Bike Lane Commando.

The drinking bike is on city council's agenda tonight and we hope for an approval.  The first ride will start in Redfield, then peddling over to Mill Glen, then off to Kingsley. (Kinglsey will eventually have three of these bikes and will act as a bike depot)


Friday, June 26, 2015

Dunwoody Confiscated Too Much Tax Money

The big story in da 'wood this week is all about dollars - your dollars.  The City of Dunwoody has been collecting more money than it should from some homeowners.  It's too early to tell how many people and how much money, but don't look for it to have a major impact on the budget.  

For this story we need to go back in time, back to late 2010.  It was fall 2010 that Village Burger opened, Dunwoody became known as the 'Smart People, Smart City' temporarily, Nancy Jester defeated Jim Redovian for DeKalb school board, Firkin Gryphon opened,  Fiscella actually posted on his blog, Danny Ross was pushing for the GA Music Hall of Fame to move to Dunwoody, various factions were plotting and drawing maps of the new elementary school attendance lines (wow, that was a fun time) and Farmhouzer chili was tasted at the Chili Cook Off at Brook Run.

Another item in 2010 was a vote for Homestead Exemptions in Dunwoody.

City of Dunwoody Homestead Exemption
"Shall the Act be approved which amends the homestead exemption from City of Dunwoody ad valorem taxes for municipal purposes in an amount equal to the amount by which the current year assessed value of a homestead exceeds the base year assessed value of such homestead by eliminating the automatic sunset so that the exemption continues indefinitely?" H.B. 1319 Act 562

Take a look at King John's blog for letters for and against (2010 post HERE) Uh, the good ole days when people commented on blogs.

Well, the referendum passed.  Dunwoody homeowners voted themselves a five year extension of the tax exemption in November 2010. The problem?  No one implemented the new rule, and no one correctly reported the tax information to DeKalb County.  There is no way to blame DeKalb County for this issue.  The city manager (he's gone) didn't see this through, nor did the city's legal staff or the finance folks.  Not so smart after all.

Whom to blame? Whom not to blame?  You can't blame Mayor Davis, Terry, Lynn D, or city manager Eric Linton.  None were a part of the city government when this occurred.  When a referendum passes in the state legislator, one should expect staff to brief everyone on implementation and affects of the legislation.  Apparently that didn't happen.  Let's focus on the future and make sure the refunds are calculated and issued promptly. 

Dunwoody Swim 2015 Final Standings

Congratulations to Village Mill Swim Team, the unofficial 2015 Dunwoody champions.

Village Mill defeated Vermack in Week 5 459-319.  The loss by Vermack officially marks the end of an era - a dominating era by Vermack.  For years Vermack set the mark for Dunwoody teams, and they were unbeatable.  A lack of young swimmers and some older kids opting for other opportunities resulted in the team's rapid decline.  But fear not, some of Dunwoody's fastest swimmers still call Vermack home and they'll be back next season seeking to regain dominance.

Winning a swim meet requires strategy.  If a team is weak in a certain age group, a sweep of points by an opponent wipes away victories elsewhere.  If a team has a pair of dominating 10 year-old girls, the two girls can place 1st and 2nd in four events, creating a 28 point swing.  And if the team has two high school boys from Dynamo, they can do the same. Reviewing lineups of the opposing team is key.  If your opponent has a record-setting swimmer in the IM and butterfly, don't put your fastest kid against her.  Concede those two events and put your fastest kids in races in which their ace is outside the pool eating a hot dog from the concession stand. Some coaches simply put kids in their best event without knowing the competition.  A swimmer's times are available.  Compare those times to your swimmers' times.  On the other hand, swimming should be fun for the kids and winning isn't everything (said never by a 1st place swimmer) - but do know score is kept and times recorded for a reason.

Byrnwyck 395  Zaban 374

Gainsborough 470  Dunwoody North 300

Georgetown 428  Roxboro 347

Huntcliff 403  Redfield 383
DunwoodyTalk sent a staffer to this event.  Huntcliff is one of the smallest teams in the league, but always has great swimmers.  Their strength is having a decent supply of high school kids.Many teams don't have any boys or girls in the 18-18 age range and have 14 year olds swim up.

 Mill Glen 452  Fontainebleau 340

The Branches 475  Kingsley 321

Final Standings
Village Mill #1
Georgetown #2
The Branches #3
Mill Glen #4
SaveDunwoody #5

Monday, June 22, 2015

Atlanta Swim Championships Psych Sheets 2015

Psych Sheets

Session 1 - Wednesday Afternoon -Session 1 Psych Sheet
Session 2 - Thursday Morning - Session 2 Psych Sheet
Session 3 - Thursday Afternoon - Session 3 Psych Sheet
Session 4 - Friday Morning -  Session 4 Psych Sheet
Session 5 - Friday Afternoon -  Session 5 Psych Sheet
Session 6 - Saturday Morning - Session 6 Psych Sheet
Session 7 - Saturday Afternoon -  Session 7 Psych Sheet

Friday, June 19, 2015

Dunwoody Swim Teams Week 4 scores

Village Mill 509  Dunwoody CC  284

Brittany Club 429  Vermack 351

Mill Glen 437  Bymwyck 353

Georgetown 435  Gainsborough 358

Huntley Hills 402  Fontainebleau 393

Kingsley 412  Dunwoody North 378

Redfield 382  Deerbrooke Waters 374

Garden Hills 436  The Branches 360

Wynterhall 423  Zaban 361

 Standings as of June 17

Village Mill 3-0
Georgetown 3-1
Mill Glen 3-1
The Branches 2-1
Zaban 2-2
Wynterhall 2-2
Kingsley 2-2
Fontainebleau 2-2
Dunwoody North 2-2
Redfield 2-2
Dunwoody CC 1-2
Deerfield Spldg Lks 1-2-1

Vermack 1-3

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dunwoody Swim Week 3

With pop-up thunderstorms gaining popularity on Tuesday nights, we've seen many swim meets postponed or cancelled.  We will update as we receive scores.

Week 3
Zaban Sharks 394  Mill Glen  371
A loss to Zaban pretty much eliminates Mill Glen from a Top 5 finish.  Zaban has a great team this season and the kids are having fun.

Chastain Park 485  Vermack 307
The pride of Dunwoody swim has been kicked to the kiddie pool.  Get out the SPF 85 sun screen and relax the rest of the summer.  Too bad Zaban doesn't have Vermack on the schedule this season.  That would be a great match.

Hampton Hall S 400  Fontainebleau 379

Village Mill 410 Kingsley 377
A two-day event last week, due to a postponed event.  Quite the tense environment.  At the end of Day 1there was an issue with event 8.  The teams re-swam event 8 resulting in a Kingsley win, reversing the original outcome.  The Vipers were fired up.  The ref was eating an Oreo Blizzard and calling out 'DQ' like no one's business.  At some point a ref needs to understand it's summer league and not Olympic trials.  30+ DQ's on the night.  Kingsley swimmers setting records all night but Village Mill wins the last four relays for the win.

Village Mill 509  DCC 284
The DCC kids were offering July 4th fireworks armbands for kids to throw races, but no takers.  Village Mill

Zaban 495  Deerfield Spalding Lakes  284
Zaban Sharks are for real

Gainsborough 428  The Branches  364

Mill Glen 403  Redfield 396

#1 Village Mill
#2 Georgetown
#3 The Branches
#4 Zaban
#5 Dunwoody Tea Party

Eat My Bubbles

The winner of Thursday's meet of Village Mill versus The Branches will most likely be city champs for 2015 and all winning kids will win a $2,500 gift certificate to REI and free burgers at VB until the next frost.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Monday, June 8, 2015

Dunwoody 2015 Swim Season

It's June in Dunwoody, and that means one thing - Swim Meets.

Welcome to the 2015 swim season - long nights at the pool.  Nothing better than seeing your kid early in the meet, perhaps Race 14, then finish up hours later with a relay in Race 82.

Week 1

Georgetown  -  Rained Out

Redfield 419  Deerfield-Spalding Lake 328
A nice win for the Red Devils, but perhaps the only one of the season for them.  Redfield puts on a nice meet with an A rated playground, good food, and lots of moms and dads showing up. 

Dunwoody North 449  Wynterhall  316
Dunwoody North is the real deal this year.  Looking for lots of wins this season.  Wynterhall, thanks to a great season last year, faces some bigger and faster teams this year.  Week 2 looks easier for the Wynterhall swimmers.

Fontainebleau 463  Deerbrooke Waters 279
Fontainebleau, way on the eastern shores of Dunwoody, put in a great effort in Week 1 and walks away with a huge win. 

Vermack 200  Kingsley 200
When you see a 200-200 tie, this usually means the meet was started, thunder and lightning were present, and the parents didn't really want to reschedule, so they call it a tie.Or, a scheduled birthday party won't give up the pool for the proposed rain-out make-up date.  Vermack, the top swim team in Dunwoody since the Bannister/Chesnut/Spruill girls swam in Major Dunwoody's pond back in 1878, may be out of contention for top honors this year. Vermack lost lots of talent this season due to swimmers participating in Olympic training, and also because some older kids were lured away to become coaches.  It's real easy to get a 16 year old to coach:  pay her/him a couple thousand dollars, offer free food at the concession stand, a few free rounds of golf, and a couple of banana splits from Bruster's. 

Mill Glen at Zaban - Rained Out

Sorry, no news on The Branches, Village Mill, and others.  Please send us an email at dunwoodyparent@gmail. com if you have info on these teams.

Week 2

Mill Glen 461  Deerbrooke Waters 307
Mill Glen looks to be a top team this season, again.  With Vermack having an off season this could be the year.

Village Mill 460  Dunwoody North  330
Village Mill goes big over Dunwoody North.  The kids were reportedly fired up with the annual Strawberry Festival in town and wanted to impress and the grandmas and grandpas cheering for the swimmers. Great job, VM.

The Branches 418  Vermack 361
The Branches takes out Vermack.  The Branches will soon claim to be #1 in Dunwoody, but the season is still young. 

Wynterhall 419  Redfield 363
It was close for much of this event, but in the end Wynterhall pulls ahead.  Wynterhall was able to get lots of points in the 13-14 and 15-18 division.  Any tema that has decent swimmers 13+ has a great chance of winning every week.  Lots of kids drop off swim team to work on their 30A tan or play lacrosse or baseball, leaving teams with very light rosters. HizHonor KW, aka da maya, was in the house at the Redfield pool, a welcome sight to all.  Lots of parents enjoying the meet.  I think there were as many adults as kids at this neighborhood rival meet.

Georgetown 450  Kingsley 342
G-town takes care of business and believes to be the new top team in Dunwoody.  Kingsley still has the best social scene (youth and adult), so they got  that going for them.

Fontainebleau  408  Zaban  337
If this were gymnastics, Zaban would take the cake, but it's not.  Fontainebleau moves to 2-0 and we may need to send a DT staff member their next week (but only if we get free hot dogs).

JUNE 9th (today)

Wynterhall hosts Byrnwyck
Dunwoody North travels to Huntley Hills
Fontainebleau at Hampton Hall-S
Georgetown at Garden Hills (on Comcast TV channel 210)
Kingsley at Village Mill (Meet of the Week)
Mill Glen at Redfield
The Branches at Gainsborough
Vermack at Chastain
Zaban at Deerfield Spaulding Lakes

#1 Georgetown
#2 Mill Glen
#3 The Branches
#4 Village Mill
#5 Fontainebleau

Eat My Bubbles!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Theater Update Brook Run

For those of you not in the know, this blog is part satire and parody, and part unofficial news, and once in a while, real news.  When it comes to school stuff, we keep it serious, most of the time.

When discussing local businesses we keep it light and respectful, promoting local restaurants.  We've promoted Mellow Mushroom (Hoegaarden on draft and fresh hot pizza) for years.  We plug Marlow's, The Tavern, Cafe at Pharr, and more.  

For politics and city issues, we're all over the place.  

Yesterday we posted a piece about the CVB, and well, a few people didn't like it.  Many did.  

Here's the story:

There's a building in Brook Run Park that used to be a theater.  The theater went dark 15 years ago.  Dunwoody has grown and thousands of people have moved here, even though this building was left to decay.  The lack of a theater has not hurt Dunwoody one bit.  Homes are selling, businesses are opening, and we have sidewalks and freshly paved roads.

Although we lack a real theater (no offense to SDP, but we mean real as in a dedicated theater), we also lack usable green-space parks.  Dunwoody has zero soccer fields, zero lacrosse fields, and of course no softball fields.  We do have two baseball fields, used exclusively for Dunwoody Metro Atlanta Senior Baseball. If you want to reserve those fields, don't call the city.  Dunwoody Sr. Baseball officials handle the bookings.  Good luck with that. 

But let's get back on task - the CVB and the abandoned building in Brook Run. 

Brook Run Park was granted to DeKalb County over a decade ago, with some restrictions.  Seventy percent (70%) of the park must remain as urban green-space.  An asphalt parking lot is not green-space.  A concrete sidewalk (or trail) is not green-space, and a brick building is not green-space.  A concrete skate park is not green-space.  The skate park, roads, sidewalks, parking lots, existing buildings, and the trail consume much of the allowable 30% non green-space. If you knock down a couple more buildings, you have more space available for green-space.

The big battle here is if Brook Run becomes a park like Murphy Candler, Hammond Road park, and Morgan Falls,  or remains mostly dormant and unused.  It's a task the mayor and city council will handle in 2016 when the Master Parks Plan is revisited. 

There is a small group (DT staff says 50, but the group probably claims thousands) that wants the theater preserved, rebuilt, and used again.  If Dunwoody had the same money and space and existing park assets as Sandy Springs, and there was no deed restriction at Brook Run, I'd be 100% in favor of a theater remake.  But we don't have parks like Sandy Springs, and we certainly don't have the annual income of Sandy Springs (their annual budget is 5X ours but only double the population). In summary, Dunwoody has to prioritize its needs and wants.

So this group of Dunwoody residents wants to save the theater.  Please note there is not a majority of votes on council to rebuild the theater.  I think the issue has one, two at most, votes on city council.  Put to a vote today, it fails 6-1. To end this entire issue, someone on council should put an RFP to demo the theater building on the next meeting agenda.  Knock it down and move on.  Put a lacrosse field in its place and don't look back.

So, back to the CVB, we promise. 

The SaveTheTheater group wants to spend other people's money on a study on the costs to save the theater.  Our city council said no to funding the study (an obvious hint that there is no support for a theater in Brook Run).  The SaveTheTheater group solicited the Dunwoody CVB for money.  According to a CVB board member, the CVB "did agree to partially fund a research study to determine the feasibility of this theatre (sic) as it relates to the CVB’s ability to successfully promote this attraction outside of the area".  However, according to the member, "And finally, while we have committed to this financial participation, no payments have yet been made as we are awaiting clarification on a few items."  Clarification?  Why hand over $5,000 if things weren't clear? 

In the opinion of the DunwoodyTalk staff, the abandoned building in Brook Run is NOT an issue the Dunwoody CVB should address.

After posting the original CVB Theater blog post, we received the following comment:
The comment and our response:

As xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx and xxx of the CVB, I would ask you to report the facts and not fiction relative to the CVB’s involvement with the theatre at Brook Run Park.

DT: Fiction?  You confirmed the Board voted to fund the SaveTheTheater posse.

I understand that your comments are simply your opinion but if you choose to quote someone, please quote a real person and not the two fictitious persons (Kimmie Knight and Kathryn Drawicle) with fictitious quotes.

DT: Sounds like a good idea.  Thanks for providing us with direct quotes.  But please note that we don't always put the names of folks out there.  We felt no need to include real names here, even though our original post in on the first second page of a Google search.  If the CVB folks want us to use their real names we can edit the post.  Have them contact us.

The CVB serves an extremely important role in bringing tax dollars to Dunwoody so you as a resident can benefit from this source of revenue.

DT:  Partially accurate.  It's hotel guests bringing tax dollars to Dunwoody, not the CVB.  The CVB, via the hotels, serves as our tax collector.   Yes, we do benefit.  Looks like the city brought in $800,000 or so in hotel taxes in 2014, maybe 3% of the budget?  The CVB share of the take is a million or so? I hope you don't think the CVB is responsible for bringing in the revenue.  It's the marketing efforts of your hotel staff and the other hotels that do most of the leg work.  Our city's location sure helps.  If the CVB disappeared I doubt your vacancy rates would change much, if it all.  But I'm not in favor of ridding ourselves of the CVB because then DeKalb CVB would take over.

As Board members, we volunteer our time to help the CVB team in their efforts to promote Dunwoody.

DT:  Thanks for volunteering! I've done a little of that here as well.  Feels good to help others.   Here's a link to volunteer outside of the hotel industry. 

To this end, your false reporting of the facts combined with the denigration of the new CVB logo is insulting to me as both xxxx and a hospitality business leader in the community.

DT: Nothing false was reported.  A little satire, yes.  But the fact is your Board voted to give away $5,000 after a guy showed up and asked for it.  I suggest you go back and read some other blog posts from the past five years.  Lots of good stuff.  Here's one of my favorites.  RecycleRedShirts. We Luv Vandy and VB. Gangs.

DT: Denigration of the logo?  LOL. Don't blame me on that one - blame the ad firm that designed it.  We at DT had no involvement with Smart City, the * debacle, or the new dippin dot CVB logo. You need to take ownership for that piece of work.  Dunwoody is full of creative people.  You and the city both should have opened up the logo designs to all residents as a contest.  Lots of high schoolers and college kids would have loved to participate. And besides, adding 'dance, drama, and display' is a nice touch. 

To set the record straight, the Board did agree to partially fund a research study to determine the feasibility of this theatre as it relates to the CVB’s ability to successfully promote this attraction outside of the area. 

DT: So, we did not report false information?  An attraction?  it's an empty building with asbestos and a decent piece of stained glass. One of the finest theater organizations Atlanta has ever seen, the Georgia Shakespeare, folded in 2014.   The theater business is tough.  Not something a small city or CVB needs to invest in.

As always, the goal of the CVB is to sell rooms. The question then becomes, would the theartre help the CVB sell more hotel rooms in Dunwoody? Without proper research, I certainly cannot answer that question. 

DT:  I'll help you with that question.  No, a theater in Brook Run will not result in a single hotel room booking - ever.

Perhaps the venue will not attract outsiders to our hotels for plays but perhaps the venue can be used as convention space which would then greatly impact our hotels. Is that a possibility….maybe.

DT: Finally, something that is worthy of discussion.  Yes, convention space is #1 to filling your rooms.  We agree.  But a room to hold 20 or 30 people is not your answer.  Those folks over at Spruill sold out to Big Biz, too bad.  That site was perfect for a convention center.  I suggest the CVB staff go to the GWCC web site calendar for a couple hours a day. Not even Mr. Walt Disney himself could make today's Dunwoody a weekend getaway.  Move on.  The CVB needs to find out what's going on around metro Atlanta, then solicit those groups.  MARTA goes to the GWCC so focus all efforts in that direction.  On the GWCC web site there is a link for convention attendees.  it says: "Where to Stay".  It points to Dunwoody is NOT listed.  Send them the $5,000 and get listed there. 

 A research study would help us in answering this question. 

DT: Your researcher will tell you what you want to hear, nothing less.  Especially when you hand pick the 'researcher'.  

And finally, while we have committed to this financial participation, no payments have yet been made as we are awaiting clarification on a few items.

DT: Thanks for visiting DunwoodyTalk, a Top 10 Dunwoody blog.