Friday, December 4, 2009

Lunchtime Bank Bandit Eating Dinner in Cobb Jail Tonight

Dunwoody PD played a role in putting a bank robber in jail according to a story on the AJC web site. Stephen James Bowen of Johns Creek, allegedly the guy who robbed a few banks in the area, is now sitting in a Cobb County jail. During halftime of this week's Monday Night Football game Bowen will attempt to beat Lucas Jackson's record of eating fifty eggs in an hour. The eggs will come from a backyard poultry coop recently set up at the Dunwoody Country Club of Sandy Springs. Not sure how significant a role Dunwoody PD played in this, but it is good to see all the regional departments working together on this situation. Dunwoody PD, Sandy Springs PD, and Johns Creek PD are relatively new departments (but staffed with veterans) with many members coming from other metro agencies like Cobb and Smyrna and Marietta so these three agencies have guys who have worked on the job together before.

A concern some folks had when Dunwoody was created was that we (the city) would no longer benefit from the mass resources (air support, SWAT, boots on the ground, etc) from the large DeKalb department. Due to geography, many crimes in Dunwoody will have ties to Sandy Springs and Johns Creek more than they would with other areas of DeKalb, so it makes sense that the north DeKalb and north Fulton agencies will work together a lot.

Much talk lately about the city adding more officers, increasing the percentage of city funds going to police expenses.

I'd like to see PCID step up and play a role here. I know the businesses in the PCID already pay a chunk into the city bank account, but the mall area (part of the PCID) requires a lot of police resources. They (the PCID) employ lots of off-duty DeKalb and Fulton officers daily for traffic control around the mall and also over at Abernathy and P-Tree Dunwoody Road. These officers are paid (with private funds) to help get employees of PCID companies (and anyone else in the rush hour soup) onto GA 400 and '285'. A couple of the mega churches do the same thing on Sundays.

The private sector hiring public sector employees to manipulate traffic patterns in their favor is a topic for another time. I've seen fast-food joints hire off duty officers to help customers get in and out of their restaurants during peek times. Often these businesses do not have the prime real estate that allows for easy in and out traffic for their establishments, but they are able to overcome this by hiring government agents to control traffic to suit the needs and wants of said businesses.

Back to PCID and police. Would the PCID consider hiring two full time officers (like they hire off duty officers for traffic) to handle shoplifters, car break-in reports, accident reports from the mall parking lot, etc.? If PCID thinks it's important to get their employees out of their parking lots and onto the roads quickly, do they also think it is equally important to take care of the nasty side of things in the PCID? I've worked with a few former Blackwater guys (now US Training Center) that are more than able to handle things in the PCID. If the Blackwater guys are too much then how about a few fellows from Wackenhut?

One final thought on PCID - how about they build an elementary school in High Street once they start throwing up apartments and condos next year.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Left Turn Only

Mill Glenn folks have a new sign to restrict left turns off of Dunwoody Club Drive into their neighborhood. The new signage was installed today at Mill Shire Lane.

Sandy Springs recently 'improved' the intersection of Spalding / Roberts / Dunwoody Club Drive. This 'improvement' added a light to accommodate folks headed from Dunwoody Club going toward the Sandy Springs fire station. This new light sequence has caused major delays for Dunwoody folks coming off GA 400 down Roberts, and also for folks headed from Dunwoody's most dangerous intersection over to Roberts.

Dunwoody PD will be warning left turners over the next week or so, then tickets will be issued. With lots of traffic in the area many neighborhoods experience cut-through type traffic. Cut throughs like Mill Glen exist because the main roadways can't handle the traffic at peak times. As long as the main roads have too many cars, people will cut through neighborhoods.

Dunwoody Public Works guy was meeting with Sandy Springs this week to discuss traffic issues in this area. My thanks to whomever suggested this meeting.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dunwoody Late Harvest Run

This morning I ran (sorta) my first 5K race, and this mid-morning I am nursing my first 5K injury.

Today's race was the first Dunwoody Late Harvest Run through the streets of west Dunwoody. The proceeds ($25 to enter) benefit the Dunwoody Farmhouse and The Atlanta Humane Society. My cat is from the AHS and the Farmhouse is near and dear to my heart so it seemed like a good thing to do on a crisp fall morning.

The race started at the Farmhouse, went north past Publix and Mellow Mushroom, then veered left toward Redfield, staying on Chamblee Dunwoody Road. At the intersection of Chamblee Dunwoody Road and Spalding (Dunwoody's most dangerous intersection), runners turned left on Spalding (headed toward Woodland Elem School), then made a sharp left on Dunwoody Road, then merged back onto Cham Dun Road. Runners again went past Redfield on the return back to the Farmhouse finish line.

A nice addition to the race was FarmHouser Al passing out cups of water, hot chocolate, or jello-shots of vodka at the race's halfway point on the Chamblee Dunwoody Road Expressway near Redfield. Al is co-owner of Horizon Windows and they were a part of today's event (handing out cups of water to participants and providing an excuse for people like me to stop and catch my breath for a minute or two).

Horizon Windows & Doors, a Dunwoody company, offers quality windows and doors for the metro area. The nice thing is that they are local. They are participating in a federal program that can help you save up to $1,500 on your purchase.

I started out in the front of the pack and was in 10th place or so for the first 50 yards. Then, as expected, I fell back into the pack. I met up with my 9 year-old daughter just past Publix and did the race with her. My wife and 7 year-old ran together.

I am not sure how many people ran the race, but I think it was around 200 people. I'm sure there will be an official story on the race in The Crier so they'll probably have a more accurate number. My entire family was there as where our neighbors. They finished way ahead of me as they are in great shape and like to run. I like to watch football on TV, without risk of injury.

The race was won by a lady that seemed to be a pretty fast runner. She started in the lead and never looked back. Her time was less than 20 minutes. My neighbor's friend Adam finished 3rd with a time of 20 minutes 30 seconds. My oldest daughter beat me by a minute or so. She swims every day so she has some endurance.

Tonight (Saturday) the race participants get to enjoy a live band and food at Dunwoody Tavern. I haven't been to the Tavern in a while so I'll let you know how it goes. I'll be sure to have my share of Red Hook Late Harvest Autumn Ale tonight since they were a sponsor (their distributor).

Aside from the race itself I was interested to see how Dunwoody Police would do with this event. At the same time over at Perimeter Mall was the Young Survivor Coalition's Tour de Pink. The bike race and the 5K actually intersected at Spalding and Chamblee Dunwoody Road, but the bike part was nearly all done by the time of the running race.

I was impressed with Dunwoody PD as they did an excellent job with traffic. They kept the runners safe and allowed for cars to sneak out of subdivisions in between runners (when there was a big break, with no interference of the race or infringement of runners' safety). I think Dunwoody PD had about seven cars dedicated to the 5K. Not sure of their presence at the Tour de Pink.

I think the Dunwoody PD needs to establish a volunteer program for events like this. Have a basic traffic control class and 'certify' residents to help in events like this. Each Citizen Volunteer would be issued an ANSI approved vest, two collapsible traffic cones, a Taser X3, a Glock 21 with AmeriGlo night sights, and a box of AmeriGlo 10" ChemFlare light sticks. Of course a shiny badge from Blackington would top off the kit.

I did not see any of the usual FarmHousers at today's event. This was a young crowd mostly and I saw no one doing the 5K in a scooter or walker. I was hoping to challenge Farmer Bob or Bob Fiscella in the race. No Council folks there either. This may have been one race I could defeat the General in, but probably not. He seems pretty fit. There were lots of activities around Dunwoody today and I'm sure a few of our city officials were out and about somewhere.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Garden Help Requested

Tending the Garden

Why do boring chores around the house when you can be enjoying a cool fall morning helping to tend the Dunwoody Community Garden at Brook Run?

The Dunwoody Community Garden is the first community garden established in the City of Dunwoody. The 60 community plots are surrounded by wide open spaces, grassy knolls and shady resting areas, but they need a little TLC from folks like you! We’ve got all kinds of interesting and fun stuff to do – from spreading mulch to digging a trench to painting the pavilion - and a bunch of things in-between. You choose!

So gather up some gardening tools (wheelbarrows, rakes, shovels, gloves, paint brushes and scrapers are really needed) and join your friends on:

Saturday, October 17th
8am til 11am

Dunwoody Community Garden at Brook Run
just past the dog park, for details and to sign-up
Contact Page Olson at

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sanitation Forum #1

Tonight was the first of three scheduled public forums on the sanitation issue here in Dunwoody. Warren and Council should save everyone the time and hassle of two more forums and cancel them both. The Dunwoody sanitation issue is done - stick a fork in it. After tonight's presentation I cannot see how any council member can go ahead with issuing an RFP on sanitation. Doing so would be a waste of time and money.

I liked tonight's set-up. I congratulate whomever set it up (perhaps Warren?). After hearing opening remarks from City manager Warren and Jeff Timler the audience was treated to six well-informed speakers on the issue.

I was expecting more folks in the audience, but it was rainy and a decent football game was on TV. Only the Lawrence Welk crowd showed up, in addition to the entire council (except Danny Ross) and the mayor. Of course farmer Bob was there as were maybe three other folks under age 65. The Dunwoody elderly folks are still mad about that closing post office so don't mess with them on this trash issue.

DeKalb Sanitation started things off with a presentation from Billy Malone and Ted Reinhart. A Powerpoint display (no popcorn) covered the basics, reminding and educating the audience of DeKalb's umbrella coverage regarding removing waste. DeKalb has been sending trucks out here since the 1940's. Rumor has it the first ever Dunwoody trash pickup was five empty cases of moonshine from the beloved Farmhouse. Seems like even back in the day the Dunwoody folks could throw a party.

DeKalb made many great points. One thing I did not know is they do not collect before 8 AM. I like that. A Waste Management truck used to rumble through our neighborhood around 7 AM - I did not like that.

Next we heard from a representative from the city of Chamblee. Chamblee handles its own trash service. Chamblee has only 12,000 folks and only 900 homes so their situation is unlike Dunwoody. Chamblee has three garbage trucks (costing over $100,000 each). I won't waste time on the Chamblee situation as Dunwoody never was considering starting our own service, but at least we got that option out of the way. It is important to note that Chamblee fees do not cover the costs and the city has to pull several hundred thousand dollars a year from their general fund to subsidize sanitation.

Moving on we heard from Mr. Howe from Doraville. Doraville opted out of county sanitation and went private in 2005. Doraville is much smaller than Dunwoody. Folks in Doraville pay $200 instead of the county rate of $265 but their level of service dropped as well. In the end, Mr Howe advised Dunwoody to keep what it has with DeKalb and not go private. Big words from someone whose city four years ago was where we are now.

Next was Sandy Springs representative Mr. Black. Being that Dunwoody is the little brother of Sandy Springs, I'm glad our neighbors sent someone over. I have to note that although Mr. Black works for Sandy Springs, he was with DeKalb for many years so he may be either biased or just wise with experience. I'll call him wise. He mentioned that Sandy Springs is private but said,
"I don't know why you'd go private here. It's (DeKalb) an excellent service at a great price."
One key thing Mr. Black reminded us about was the 1998 tornado that hit Dunwoody. he worked for DeKalb then and said DeKalb sanitation sent 60 crews out here and got the roads cleared and the debris out of here. He did not mention it but it goes without saying that Waste Management nor any other private company could not offer that level of service if such a disaster were to happen again. I think this was one of the most important points of the night. Warren and the other outsiders working for / running the city did not live here then and do not know of the destruction that took place.

Side note: This same issue was raised during the police decision. Could a Dunwoody PD handle a large-scale operation like DeKalb police could? Could Dunwoody PD have investigators, air support, SWAT, etc? The answer is no now, but sanitation and law enforcement are different. With a civil unrest situation or a need for tactical officers, we could call in other government agencies. With a tornado type situation Sandy Springs could not lend a hand with Waste Management and Doraville could not send ADS (their private trash hauler) to assist. Not comparing apples to apples, but worth noting.

Mr. Black states that DeKalb Sanitation has one of the top composting sites in the entire USA. Mr. Black of Sandy Springs could not speak more highly of DeKalb Sanitation.

Last up was a man from the State Dept. of Community Affairs. He said DeKalb is the largest public sanitation operation in the state. He said DeKalb landfill has 65 years worth of room, the largest on the east coast. The state average for landfill capacity is 27 years. He did mumble something about a use-based system whereas the more trash you have the more you pay (pay by the bag kinda deal). He said this type of system encouraged waste reduction. The only thing it encouraged tonight was grumbling from the Lawarence Welk folks sitting in front of me.

In review, the entire panel was pretty clear that Dunwoody should keep what it has now.

Public comment was not much, just a few supporters. One thing I liked was my district (district 1) councilman Robert Wittenstein standing up to ask a question during public comment.

Side note: The mayor and council folks had to sit not in their comfy leather swivel/rocker chairs up front, but instead the hard seats in the audience. The council folks brought padded seat cushions for their delicate butts. They were made of corduroy, all matching, with an image of the Farmhouse stitched in silk. I think they were gifts from the Dunwoody Preservation trust knitting club.

Anyway, Mr. Wittenstein put it out there, asking the county directly, 'can we stay with DeKalb and continue to pay the same as other DeKalb residents'? I could not think of a better question to ask. The answer from DeKalb was 'yes'. Although thy cannot guarantee the same rate we have now (they can't promise that rate to anyone in DeKalb either), they said things would stay the same through 2010. But he did say if their was an increase in 2011, it would be for everyone in DeKalb. We'd experience that increase if we did not become a city, so it's a wash. That was good news to hear. Of course the ultimate voice on this will be the DeKalb CEO and the DeKalb commissioners. But from what I gathered the CEO would go along with his Sanitation director. The city of Lithonia is in DeKalb and has kept DeKalb sanitation. They pay the same as we do now.

An interesting comment from the Doraville guy. He mentioned their failed annexation from last year and blamed part of it on sanitation. Those unincorporated DeKalb residents now have DeKalb trash but would have had to switch to Doraville's private system if annexed.

Our fear should be that if we try going private and it fails, would DeKalb Sanitation take us back? Would the CEO an commissioners allow us back in? Probably not.

I see no reason for Dunwoody to venture out and seek bids form private sanitation service. I feel even stronger about this after tonight's meeting.

I anticipate we'll keep DeKalb, with the city taking over the billing and adding a fee of $20 or so per household. Just hope they do a better job than they did getting business licenses switched from DeKalb to the city. But I think the sanitation department will be more willing to simply email an Excel file over with the current accounts.

Roll On DeKalb Trash Man!

Please take a look at my post from last week regarding my visit to the DeKalb Central Transfer Station and SP Recycling.

Friday, September 11, 2009

DeKalb Sanitation

Soon Dunwoody residents will be asked to speak at public hearings regarding the issue of trash pickup in Dunwoody. The city has a deal in place with DeKalb that expires in 2010. The city can renew with DeKalb or choose a private vendor (most likely Waste Management or Allied).

The city could choose to open things up and let us, the homeowners, choose who we want. The city could set guidelines and approve private haulers to operate within the city, then homeowners could then select (like we do for natural gas). But I doubt that will happen so no use me discussing that here.

Since I know Council will not open things up, I firmly believe staying with DeKalb is our best option. Many of us did not like some of the 'services' DeKalb provided BD (Before Dunwoody), but I am convinced trash hauling is something we keep.

Not one to hide behind a keyboard waiting for someone to email me a hot story, I hauled myself down to DeKalb's new Central Transfer Station. This place is down near the county jail off of Memorial Drive at I-285.

I toured the new admin building there and met with a DeKalb sanitation official for my tour. Let's back up a minute. DeKalb has three transfer stations: Central, East, and North.

Pretend you are your trash bag. We'll call you 'Brown'. First you'll get filled with all sorts of nasty stuff, then you'll be placed into a large can, most likely outdoors beside the family garage. Then on Monday 'Big Yellow' comes rumbling down the street, a guy jumps off the back bumper and tosses you into the back of the truck. Here you'll make close friends with other Dunwoody trash bags, mainly from your own neighborhood.

Those trucks rolling through Dunwoody can carry 4000 to 16000 pounds of trash (average truck is 4 ton).

Once the truck is full of bags you'll take a ride to Buford Hwy. You'll arrive at the North Transfer Station on Buford Hwy. You'll be dumped onto the ground. Here you'll see your bag friends from the neighborhood, and you'll meet new friends from other parts of Dunwoody. You'll see bags from Vanderlyn area, Chesnut, Kingsley, and some of your Austin bag buddies. Sorta like a swim meet. But don't get too comfortable! A rubber tire loader will scoop you up and put you in a large trailer (these trailers hold 80,000 pounds of trash). This large trailer will then haul you to your final resting place; Seminole Road Landfill.. The Native American ancestors must be proud to have their tribe name chosen for the landfill road. (Waste Management operates their own landfill in N Georgia).

No one seems to care what landfill the trash ends up in, just so we can't smell it. I have heard chatter regarding the recycling program, thus the reason for my adventure to the Central Transfer Station off of Memorial Drive.

It is here your recycling materials go on Wednesday afternoons. I planned my trip to follow my blue bag of recyclables. I named this week's bag of empties 'Blue'. After being picked up over here on the west side of Dunwoody my recycled waste made it to 'Central' Wednesday evening where it was dumped on a concrete floor. I met my bag on Thursday morning and saw him get scooped up by a rubber-tired loader and dumped into one of those huge trailers.

Quick Fact: Dunwoody (ZIP Code 30338) has 2973 households participating in its recycling program, and has 10 businesses participating. I do not have numbers on other Dunwoody ZIP codes like 30350, 30346, and 30360. (I think that ten businesses participating in recycling is a very low number considering the number of businesses in that ZIP. Perhaps the Chamber could encourage businesses to sign up)

Side Note: DeKalb Sanitation will come up to our fairs and festivals upon request. They will offer recycling tips and show off those nice shiny blue tubs on wheels. Contact Sheri L Arnold .

Okay, let's get back to my boy Blue. Last we heard Blue was dumped on a floor then scooped up and thrown into a large trailer. What next for this mixed bag of recyclables? Blue will take a ride to Forest Park, GA to the SP Recycling Center. Don't let their pretty web site fool you. The recycling center is not lined with flowers and winding trails across lush green space. A recycling center is noisy, dusty, and noisy, yet a couple of steps above a land fill. I did some research on SP and found them to be one of the best in the business. They have locations across the country, including Forest Park, GA.

DeKalb has a contract with SP Recycling Corp. that probably expires around the same time Dunwoody's contract expires with DeKalb. DeKalb is not the only sanitation department taking their recyclables to SP. Haulers from Cobb, Atlanta, Gwinnett, and all over Atlanta take their recyclables to SP - and so does Waste Management. No matter who Dunwoody uses our recyclables will most likely end up in Forest Park at SP.

Quick Facts: SP takes in over 6000 tons a month of material. Summer months 'produce' the least amount of recycled materials through the year while November through January 'produce' the most.

Now that Blue, our bag of recycled goods , has arrived at SP, what next?

Oops, we need to back up a little bit. Along with that bag of plastic and aluminum, we all use the blue tub (we'll call him Tubby, Blue's brother). Tubby is full of paper and cardboard. Tubby's contents ride in the same truck and then the same trailer as Blue. Tubby and Blue end up on the same floor at SP.

The contents of Blue and Tubby will be dumped onto a concrete floor, then scooped up onto one of many conveyor belts. During its first trip on a belt, sorters (human) will pull off and separate the cardboard and newspaper. You'd think metals or plastics would be the 'gold' in a recycling center, but not here. Newspaper is the thing SP wants the most. SP sells newspaper to a paper mill here in Georgia (pay attention and you'll see that most of what SP collects gets recycled and ends up somewhere here in Georgia). A single newspaper can be recycled up to five times.

Cardboard and paper are the easiest to sort and the most profitable. There are a couple of cardboard manufacturers in Georgia and your cardboard will end up with one of them.

What does a recycler not want? Glass. Glass is heavy, tears up machines, and cannot be sold easily. Since the US does not do much in the ways of reusing glass bottles like they do in Europe, most glass recycled in the US will be remelted or processed into a fiberglass product of some sort. I called a few recycling centers in a couple of states and found out most have to pay to get rid of glass. That's right. They can't sell it and have to pay to have it hauled away.

Those plastic grocery bags are not a good 'recyclable' item either. These things are considered 'dirty' plastic and have little to no value and may wind up in a landfill anyway.

Many folks toss items in the recycle tubs and bags and think all is well. When you place a garden hose or a wicker basket into a recycling bag, it will get sorted out and sent to the landfill. It's important for all of us to know what to recycle, but just as important for us to know what not to try and recycle through our trash provider.

What happens to the 'good' plastic (soda and water bottles) that we recycle? Much of it will be sold to a carpet maker in north Georgia where it will be turned into some type of floor covering.

The steel and aluminum will most likely go to a smelter here in Georgia for processing.

Do you throw non-recycling items into Tubby or Blue? If yes, you are hurting the process by making your 'clean' items 'dirty' and making the recycler's job more difficult (and more expensive).

Back to the subject of Dunwoody and trash. No matter who we choose our garbage will end up in a landfill in Georgia. One is up stream and one is downstream. No matter who we choose our recycled goods will end up at SP. There are not many players in the recycling game here in Atlanta. SP is the big boy on the block and with this economy and low materials costs don't look for another to come on line soon.

Did you know Dunwoody residents can pick up free mulch and compost from DeKalb Sanitation? DeKalb recycles all those yard trimmings and also fallen trees from throughout the county. Here's a great story by the DeKalb Master Gardener Association.

Quick Fact: DeKalb picks up 200-400 tons of yard debris a day.

DeKalb's landfill also produces electricity by harnessing landfill gas. (see DMGA link above)

When some in Dunwoody think of DeKalb County it is always not pleasant thoughts. Yet, in my opinion, the most pleasant thing about DeKalb is its sanitation department.

I ask that our city manager and council members contact Billy Malone or Charlie Gill at DeKalb Sanitation and request a tour of the transfer station, the landfill (including the mulch/compost area), and SP recycling. Go and see for yourself the top rate job they are doing.

Dunwoody Yes folks and our current council were hands-on for many of the decisions made in regards to service. Sanitation should be no exception. I'm asking King John, The General, Witty, Danny, Adrian, TomT, and Hizzoner to put on their dungarees and go see for themselves.

I expect DeKalb to raise fees for Dunwoody due to the recycling part. DeKalb contracts this out and will probably be paying more in the future for this service. However, even with an increase of say 25%, I strongly feel DeKalb Sanitation is our best option.

Residents are NOT interested in saving money in this area. I like to keep a hold on as much of my money as possible, but I also recognize a bargain when I see it.

Please voice your support at the upcoming public meeting on the sanitation issue. Encourage your council to meet with DeKalb Sanitation now to start negotiations for renewal.

Money is not everything. Dunwoody did not look for the least expensive pistols for its police department. We did not hire the least expensive city manager. Dunwoody did not buy the least expensive software for the police department. Warren did not buy the cheapest microphones for the council chambers (well, maybe he did at first, but he corrected that mistake).

Let's not look just at price when it comes to sanitation. DeKalb Sanitation provides a great service and its landfill operations are top notch.

Roll On DeKalb Trashman!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

1500 condos, 1500 apartments

Any time I'm at a city council meeting or a Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) meeting and a bunch of guys in dark suits with fancy charts show up, you know it's something big.

Tonight's ZBA hearing at city hall was no exception. What may not be news to all, is news to some. Tonight a development group cleared their final hurdle for a massive development in Dunwoody. This new mixed use development will add 1,500 apartments and 1,500 condos to the Austin Elementary School zone (and to Dunwoody Elementary 4th, 5th school, Peachtree Charter MS, and Dun High School).

The development also claims to include two hotels, with 400 rooms total between the two (Not huge hotels, about 200 rooms each. To compare, La Quinta on Peachtree Dunwoody has 142 rooms and the 'W' has 225 rooms).

Also they say 400,000 sq feet of new office and 400,000 sq feet of retail. The blue rectangular building on the far right of the map above is where the AJC headquarters will be later this year. I think I'll contact the developer and lock in the retail spot next to the AJC and put in a bar.

This deal has been in the works for a couple of years. This thing (the development) started in DeKalb County, then was inherited by the City of Dunwoody. Don't go getting mad at our ZBA members for approving the three variances. (Side note: the variances tonight were for piping 400+ feet of a stream, yet no one from Vernon North showed up to protect THIS stream. I guess some streams are more important than others).

This deal had already received the seal of approval from DeKalb, US Army Corp of Engineers, State EPA, State DNR, GRTA, ARC, FBI, CIA, DHA, DPT, Lemonade Days, Vernon North Canal Company, Kettle Brazen Bleu Chip Company, and a few others I can't remember. Tonight's vote was just a formality to a project with greased wheels.

This will surely add some tax revenue to the city but will also demand service in return. Of course the biggest issue here will be schools. Numbers vary, but expect at least 21 kids per 100 apartments. I could not find a number for condos so I'll use the same number (could be more or less). Simple math tells me at least 630 kids will be living there when the place is complete and rented full.

The name of this development is High Street.

The big concern here now that this thing is all approved will be the stages of development. No doubt the apartments and condos will be first. This will provide some cash flow to get things rolling. Plus, there is no need for retail there until after the apartments and condos are rented. No retailer is going to build there until people are living there.

Once this thing gets built we'll probably need a mini police precinct on the west side of the mall. Dunwoody Police already spend a lot of time at the mall. Police reports are filed daily with shoplifting and thefts from autos and car accidents from Perimeter Mall. Add more shops and 8,000 more residents (along with the current MARTA station) and you'll have lots of action.

The true danger, as a wise bow tie wearing man said to me, is a repeat of the Sembler situation at Brookhaven. There, Sembler had grand plans like you see in the photo above. Sembler built the apartments......then stopped. The same thing could happen here. The site plan for High Street shows green space, trees, sidewalks, a few more trees and the apartments and condos. I know one thing - those condos and apartments will be built. Not holding my breath on all of it.

The economy and housing is showing somewhat of an improvement lately, but commercial real estate is now crumbling all over the country, Atlanta included. The commercial side of things may take years to recover.

I hope they put lots of nice restaurants in High Street and offer free parking. Perhaps then Perimeter Mall will remove their huge valet lot so I can park close to a door. As mentioned before on this blog, I take my money to the North Point Mall because they don't 'reserve' all the front spots for valet. It's their mall (Perimeter) and they can do what they want, as can I.

Time to watch the end of the Boise State / Oregon game so enough for tonight. More on the ZBA hearing later.

New Chips

King John has done a nice job the past couple of days covering local events and I have posted nothing. Tomorrow stop back here for a recap of Thursday's Zoning board of Appeals meeting.

Today I bring you a review on a new item at Costco: Kettle Buffalo Bleu Krinkle Cut Chips.

These are very tasty. It's hard to just have one chip and move on to something else. The 30 ounce bag (851 grams for you wacky metric folks) is priced at $5.29. For a hefty bag like that, I think the price is fair.

The chips do have a "Brazen spice" as claimed, I think. I am not really sure what 'brazen' means. I looked up the definition and could not find an adjective that related to food or a spice. But the marketing folks at Kettle get a thumbs up from me on this one.

I really could not taste the bleu cheese, but regardless, the chips have a distinct taste. I've moved on from the old-school salt & vinegar chips and same for bbq flavor. I needed a new chip flavor in my life and I think these will fill that void.

If you buy a bag for a party, make sure to get the chips at the bottom of the bag as they have more spice on them. Also, I had to use scissors to open the bag as the 'pull sides apart' method did not work for me (I have decent arm strength, but apparently not enough for opening this brand of chips. They must have some special adhesive for sealing the bag).

On the topic of Costco, they need to make that self-checkout for us folks only buying a bag of chips and a Snuggie. If you have a full cart (especially a flatbed cart) with all kinds of stuff and alcohol (alcohol scanned in self-checkout makes a light flash, signaling to everyone that you are having a party I guess) you should not be in the self checkout lane. I highly suggest Jerome's lane, even if it has more people in it. I knew Jerome from his days at Sweet Tomatoes and that guy smiles 24/7.

Yes, Costco is selling the Snuggie now. Guys, have your wife buy this item. When a guy goes in alone to Costco and comes out only with a bag of chips and a Snuggie, it looks a little weird.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Community Garden Now Open

Where The Sidewalk Ends - at the back of Brook Run Park is where you'll find the Dunwoody Community Garden.

City Council members Robert Wittenstein and Adrian Bonser were present today at the official grand opening of the community garden. Led by a volunteer board of directors, the garden i s made up of sixty plots, each measuring 8' x '4 each.

All plots are currently reserved, but a few may open up later this week. There is a wait list, but if interested email the garden folks at

I joined to learn more about gardening. It's one thing to read about alternate growing methods on the Internet, but I think learning first-hand will be better. I hope to have my kids learn from the experience as well.

Many of the harvested crops will be donated to a local food pantry.

The gardeners are a mixed group of local folks. Many of the people involved are names you'd recognize from other volunteer and social groups in Dunwoody.

Like any other new project, there are a lot of people responsible for getting this thing going. I do not know all their names but the list includes Rebecca, Sustainable Pattie, Farmer Bob, Paige, Angela, Jim H, and more.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dunwoody Community Garden

The Dunwoody Community Garden at Brook Run will open next Sunday, August 23rd. The opening date coincides with the official start of National Community Gardening Week. The US Dept of Agriculture wants citizens to 'connect with the land'.

I 'connected' for nearly five hours Saturday morning with a group of others including Sustainable Pattie, Paige, Rebeca, Angela, some high school kids, a guy who likes math and twine, and a few others.

When I first heard about today's event I thought I would drive up to the garden area, eat a donut or two, pick out a 4' x 8' plot, pull a couple of weeds or something, then be back in bed at 9 AM. (side note: Friday was my wedding anniversary so I treated my wife to a great band at Redfield pool, drank a few beers, and watched the kids swim. I then partnered with Ben and the two of us defeated Dee and Sarah in a late-night game of euchre. Ben is a good euchre partner. No matter how many Hoegaardens he has, his focus remains on the game.)

Things worked out OK, but not as I had planned. I got some sun and exercise at Brook Run. I mostly pounded stakes into the ground after math guy aligned the quadrants. All the people there were nice folks, Someone even made butterscotch cookies. I ate three or four of those.

About ten people focused on spreading the mulch onto the pathways. The mulch pathways separate the plots. We marked 60 plots, but there is room for expansion it seems. I never did get my spot picked, but I'm sure I'll get that detail taken care of. Sustainable Pattie said there's not a bad plot in the bunch.

One person I did not expect to see there this morning was Bob Lundsten. Like me, Bob probably thought donuts would be served. I have quickly learned that Sustainable Pattie's garden posse lives healthier than I do. That is part of the reason I signed up. Hopefully I'll figure out donuts are not the breakfast of champions and I should instead be connecting with the land instead of connecting with the donuts.

Back to Bob. I finally have a nickname for Bob, one I think he can live with. Farmer Bob it is. Since I have yet to select my
garden site, perhaps I'll find out where Bob's is located and get next to him. He'll most likely be growing hot peppers.

If you have a plot and plan on building your box now, I suggest you make the 4' x 8' to the outside of your frame, not inside. Although great care was taken to make sure all the plots are uniform, a few may be an inch or two short.

See you at the garden.

(Farmer Bob is the guy in the black shirt, I am the guy wearing black socks)

Dunwoody Library

Had a busy day today. Started at the Community Garden and ended at Councilman Taylor's campaign kickoff at Bruster's. In between, I got the wife's bicycle tire fixed and my daughter's bike seat fixed at Performance Bicycle (down by Walmart), stopped in at Lee Brant jewelers and had dinner at Fuddruckers.

I also went with my family to the Dunwoody Library. They had a celebration today with a Dunwoody history lesson, book appraisals, folks dressed in literary character costumes, a treasure hunt, and a barbershop quartet.

The celebration was put together by Friends of the Dunwoody Library, a non-profit group. You can support the group with cash donations and by buying books at one of their book sales. The next book sale is September 24,25,26,28.

I highly suggest using the Dunwoody library. You can also pay a fee and join the Fulton County library (in Sandy Springs off of Mt Vernon) and also join the Gwinnett Library system. They have a branch at Peachtree Corners.

I think the public library is one thing government seems to do well.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Trash Talking

When I have my weekly story-telling time for neighborhood kids, tales of the BD (BeforeDunwoody) era are always a hit.

The kids 'oooh' and 'ahhh' of the days gone by, then it's back to reality for these youngsters.

But one legend from the past still exists for our youth to see with their own eyes ........ the DeKalb Sanitation Worker! This living legend shows up like clockwork four days a week. Twice weekly he hauls away anything and everything I can get to the curb. (I think one reason Dunwoody does not have a huge problem with trash and illegal dumps throughout the city is the fact that we have twice-weekly pickup.). One day a week he hauls away my grass clippings and neatly piled tree limbs. And of course he picks up BigBlue. Big Blue is a semi-transparent bag filled with evidence of the week's alcohol consumption. I've heard some neighbors use Recycle Day as a chance to walk and see through neighbors' blue bags to see where the sinners live.

Like the phoenix rising from the ashes in Atlanta, the DeKalb TrashMan rises from the gases of the Seminole Landfill. We've experienced bad things from DeKalb, but the sanitation service is not one of them. I've gotten used to our city police force and our own zoning board. I've come to terms with the existence of the DHA and the legendary farmhouse. But let me keep my TrashMan.

City Council has asked Warren to set up yet another committee (this is a "cross-departmental" committee so no council members had a chance to nominate themselves or a spouse to it) to evaluate the outsourcing of sanitation services. This committee includes our Public Works Director and our Finance Director. Not sure if these people live in Dunwoody or not.

The city's recent memo does not talk about how much money would allegedly be saved by privatizing this function, but since trash talk was never an issue during the DunwoodyYes days, I do not know why it is now a topic for discussion.

For 2008 I paid $265 for DeKalb to haul away ($22 a month) approximately 870 beer bottles, 300 Diet Coke cans, one wine bottle (we had some friends over that drank this, I do not drink wine), 1200 pounds of 'too-old-to-eat leftovers, two sinks, 400 lawn bags, three pine trees, 40 empty pizza boxes, 52 Dunwoody Crier newspapers, and other stuff that does not need mentioned.

It seems the committee has been hard at work. See here for their early findings.

If you are too lazy to click the link I'll break it down for you.

Committee: Once a week pickup is superior to twice a week pickup.
Me: Twice a week of most things in my life is better than once a week of the same thing.

Committee: DeKalb charges extra for recycling and other companies have created 'incentive' programs for recycling.
Me: What 'incentive' do these folks offer? Will they come to my kitchen and sort my trash? Will they wash my windows? Will they buy me a pitcher of beer at Mellow Mushroom? The reason why DeKalb charges extra for recycling is because it costs MORE to recycle than it does to dump it in a hole. A trailer full of waste paper brings $19.00 a ton. That's right, simply haul 2000 pounds of mixed paper to a recycler and walk away with a cool $19.00! How about all those beer and wine bottles stashed in BigBlue bags? $2.85 a ton. So if I collect 2000 pounds of glass I still do not have enough money for a banana split at Bruster's.

For the record, DeKalb charges a one-time setup fee of $30 for the recycling program. For $30 you get a blue plastic tub for newspapers, cardboard, etc. You also get a huge case of blue bags. I put plastics, cans, and bottles in this bag. The committee posted bullet point after bullet point on this issue. I think a $30 fee is acceptable to get the tub and bags (at least all of Dunwoody trash is not of varied appearance on recycle day as everyone has blue bags and tubs on the street).

I know the money paid for recycled goods is not the reason we recycle, but the financial part of it cannot be ignored.

Any private business seeking the sacred Dunwoody Trash will have to factor in these costs just as DeKalb does now. A private company can charge less, but the level of service will drop greatly. You'll be limited to a certain number of lawn bags a week and be restricted to a certain amount of trash you can wheel out to the street. What will happen if you have too much? Let it stew in the garage for a week I guess.

I do not think the recycling charge from DeKalb is excessive. If the committee is worried about this 'disincentive' to recycle, simply have DeKalb add in the recycling fee to ALL customers, recyclers or not. And keep our current level of service.

When reading the committee memo the committee mentions possible 'educational' programs. Hasn't the public school system pumped this into the heads of the kids already? Do we really need a printed brochure to educate us on recycling? Just have our very own Sustainable Pattie do an email blast and we'll get a good understanding of what we need to do.

The committee also cites the sustainability aspect of once a week pickups, referencing emissions and roads. First off, the extra days your trash will stew in a hot city-approved trash container creates stinkaroo gas. Al Gore and Bono both oppose this type of gas. Stinkaroo gas in this form is harmful to not only the environment but also to your nose.

A committee is concerned about emissions and we have a council member wanting to import old gas guzzling London cabs for a Dunwoody taxi service?

Side Note: I received word late last night that the city is in negotiations with Rubbermaid and Lemonade Days to create a special Dunwoody trashcan. This can will have the look of a Colonial trashcan and have a full-color hologram of the Dunwoody Farmhouse on it.

Less wear on the roads? Perhaps. But I do not think the extra weekly trip down my street or your street will make the road any worse than it already is.

The committee also cited increased safety. If that is not a stretch I do not know what is. Increased safety because the garbage trucks will roll out less often? If anything, those slow-rolling yellow sleds of trash slow down traffic in Dunwoody, making things safer!

The committee talks about the advantage of having only one (95 gallon) can on the curb once a week (instead of my two 45-gallon trash cans). They cite this as an aesthetic advantage. I see it as a government intrusion into my trash. Plus, can our elderly residents maneuver those things to the curb? Our elderly have already been dealt bad hands this year with the post office moving and lights at The Branches tennis courts. Can they handle more change?

The best line in the memo is here" Regardless of the frequency of pickup, currently, there is no requirement for a standard container which allows for a varied appearance".

Are you kidding! We have not paved a single road in Dunwoody (and will not for months and months) and the committee is concerned about varied appearance of trash containers?

I am concerned about the varied appearance of our streets. Why is it that some streets have only two potholes per 100 meters while others get to have three per 100 meters?

I am concerned about the varied appearance of our sidewalks. Some go place to place, and most others seem to appear as invisible.

I am concerned abut the varied appearance of traffic. Why do some people get stuck in traffic while others only get cut-through speeders in their neighborhood?

There will be public hearings on this issue, so please plan to attend. In the meantime, contact your councilperson and those committee members and let them know how you feel on this issue.

Roll On DeKalb TrashMan!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Trailers on the Move

A good sign for Austin parents and kids - portable classrooms (trailers) being hauled out. No word if these are being transferred to the middle school, high school, or the county dump.

Many parents despise having their kids in these things. Concerns over air quality have existed as well as the lack of bathrooms in these has caused grief. I've heard other school trailers have bathrooms and other amenities, but I have not seen these myself.

The removal of the trailers is a bitter/sweet situation. Sweet in the sense that less kids are in this school (but the school will still be 5-10% over capacity on the first day of school next month). Bitter in the sense that the school's atmosphere will not resemble that of the past 30 years since the 4th and 5th graders have been pulled out and sent packing to the new Dunwoody Elementary. All Austin (and most Vanderlyn and Chesnut) 4th and 5th graders will now be bussed or driven by car to complete their elementary school years. In years past many of these same 4th and 5th graders walked or rode bikes to school.

One good thing for the K-3rd grade kids; they can actually have a 'Field Day' on a field if enough trailers are taken out. Not sure if Vanderlyn has had any trailers removed. If a reader has seen any hauled out please drop me an email.

I sincerely hope the school opens on time and every student has a successful school year. I saw John H's video and the building, like all new schools, looks nice. However, I think the strain of the extra traffic and busses on the road and the splitting up of siblings during the elementary school years is a high price to pay for not redistricting the Dunwoody cluster, but that is a lost battle at this point.

Back to School ads are popping up so go out and get those supplies and start getting those kids used to getting up early. Again, good luck to all this upcoming school year.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Red Box in Dunwoody

Looks like Dunwoody proper has its first Redbox video vending machine. There are nearly 16,000 red box vending machines across the country, with a new machine being placed somewhere every hour. A quick ZIP code search shows there are just a handful of these in the 30338.

Dunwoody's first redbox is outside Walgreens on Chamblee Dunwoody Road. It seems as the redbox folks like to put these things at Walgreens and Wal-Marts.

Videos are $1 a day and you can buy used vidoes for $7. The selection seems okay. I rented some kid video (for my kids) and I picked up Gran Torino for myself. I could have rented Gran Torino simply by using my Comcast remote control, but it was $4.99 On Demand. For $4 savings I'll make the drive to Walgreens, for now. If it were January 8th and cold and I had the urge to rent a movie, I'd opt for On Demand.

Publix has one of these machines as well, but not a Redbox. I've used the one at Publix. I will continue to use it if I happen to be out getting groceries and suddently want to rent Mall Cop. I am already on the wait list for when Land of the Lost arrives at my local Redbox.

Based on my unofficial results the Redbox machine dispenses DVDs 3% faster than the one at Publix.

The Redbox at Walgreens has a nice fabric curtain covering the screen. At first I thought it was to protect the sensitive LCD screen from harmful UV rays. I was wrong. The curtain is actually for teenage boys who don't want to be caught by a nosey neighbor renting rated 'R' flicks full of nudity. Imagine an 8th grader trying to rent something when all of a sudden his mom's friend gets in line behind him. The kid can simply put his head between the screen and curtain and complete the transaction in secrecy.

Monday, June 29, 2009

July 4th Parade memories

This weekend the weather looks great for a parade. I'll get over there early to secure a good viewing spot for the family, then sit around in the sun waiting for the parade to reach us. My favorite spot is to sit near the Ace hardware store or in the median by Goodyear tire store. Parking is somewhat of a hassle but expected.

It will be great to see local living legend Clark Howard. I hear there will be lots of bands, church floats, swim teams (beware all kids in the parade with Super Soakers; I will be carrying my own Super Soaker this year in case one of you squirts me), political folks (someone told me the Mayor will be riding in a new version of the Pope Mobile) and the usual local businesses throwing candy to the kids. I am glad that Cynthia McKinney will not be a part of the parade this year.

My kids always like to see the shiny DeKalb County garbage truck rumble through the parade. I hope the county/city dispute hasn't caused an absence of sanitation beauty in this year's parade.

It will be nice to see Dunwoody PD in the parade. Those shiny black & white's look good driving around our city. Afterwards I'll be sure to grill some beef hot dogs and perhaps get some ribs from Johnny over at Publix. I found a box of snakes to light in the driveway. Last year's snake residue is still there. Here is a link to a huge 'snake' problem in the town of South Park.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

ASA swim championships

While butterflies were flying and margaritas were flowing here in Dunwoody, a couple hundred folks from Dunwoody were down at Georgia Tech ( ) for the ASA ( ) championships.

Dunwoody is home to many neighborhood swim teams and all swimmers can choose to participate in the championships. The qualifying rounds were held Friday & Saturday with the top relay teams and top individuals earning a spot at Sunday’s championships.

The excitement was in the air as rivals (neighbors and classmates) swam to see who goes in the record book as the best of ASA for the 2009 summer season.

Visit to see how things finished.

Want so swim year-round? Dynamo ( ) offers year-round classes for students of all levels and also has a home-school program.

Congratulations to all participants, the team parents, and all the volunteers.