Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dunwoody City Council Recap

Public Comment
Bill Grant, Chamber of Commerce:  Attendance at Dunwoody Music Festival was a disappointment.  Plan to go ahead again with the event next year - three weeks earlier.  Mr. Grant is soliciting input on why attendance was off.  He is a dedicated volunteer in our city and the Dunwoody Music Festival is one of the many events he is passionate about.

Thanks for asking, Mr. Grant. A few reasons why attendance was low this year:

1.  No Chili cook-off.  Nearly all chili cookers last year were Dunwoody residents.  Each tent had, on average, four people.  These chili cookers invited their friends and neighbors.  I estimate the chilli event brought in 400 people, easy.  These people ate food, drank beer, and listened to music (not necessarily in that order).  This year the event organizer opted not to have this fund raising event.  Look for a chilli cook-off in 2012 during the music festival.

2.  No Dunwoody food vendors

3.  No Bad Neighbors band (Redfield), but The Branches band, Family Trucksters, was there

4.  Soccer games, baseball games, other festivals, tennis matches.  Lots of kid events this time of year keep parents busy.  I have two kids, and both had some sporting event (or two, or three) last weekend.  With a fall festival, this may be unavoidable.

5.  Were there any Dunwoody or Chamblee high school student bands asked to play?  Teenagers like to hang out with teenagers.  Teenagers spend money.

6.  Arts and Crafts vendors were inside the fenced area, had to pay $5 to get in to shop.

I want to cover the council meeting so I'll stop here.  I attended the event and enjoyed the music.  Hopefully next year the event date will be better attended.

Mr. Chimney:  The debate over the chimney by Ravina continues.  Mr. Chimney demands that Starbucks and the city show the 1850  1899 1950  1980? circa chimney its due respect.

The Chairman:  Opposed spending $10,000 for new chairs for the courtroom/city council chambers.  Unfortunately the Chairman won his battle over seating. 

SignMan:  A frequent visitor to council meetings spoke against the proposed ice  plastic skating venture. SignMan had a prop (a scaled rendering of the plastic 'ice' skating rink compared to a regulation ice rink) and got his point across to council.  SignMan said no way could city sell enough sponsorships and fit 33 kids an hour on the small rink.

CVB Report
Convention and Visitors Bureau gave a presentation.  I did not take many notes, but recall they are promoting a Girlfriend Getaway campaign.  The idea is for all Dunwoody (and metro Atlanta) girlfriends to go spend money at the mall, at local spas, and eat at local restaurants.  The CVB is looking for  a new home, and hope to move into the lobby of Two Ravinia Place.  How about the old train station house (former home to the Chamber of Commerce and a cell phone store) or the FarmHouse?  Not swanky enough, most likely.  I think they want to be in the PCID area so they can get to Cafe Intermezzo easily for lunch and Cheesecake Factory for dinner. Best of luck to the CVB in putting heads in beds. Focus on our 2500 businesses - they have clients and employees coming to town every week.

Unfinished Business:
2012 Budget - the discussion at times resembled an Abbott and Costello routine, or was it a Laurel and Hardy routine? Either way, no one could really explain the ChatComm funds for 2011 and 2012. After someone asked "Who's on first?", I quit listening.

New Starbucks for Ravinia
The Hines Group (Ravinia complex) wants to put in a new Starbucks.  There is a stand-alone chimney at the proposed site for the new Starbucks.  No one is sure if the chimney was built by Hernando De Soto, Ponce de Leon, Georgia Governor George R. Gilmore, or Grandpa Elias Redfield Spruill Donaldson Chestnut. The story of the chimney varies, but here is my take:  A chimney stood on the grassy knoll near '285' and Ashford Dunwoody Road.  The chimney, at some time, was attached to a structure of some sort.  At some point in time, the structure was destroyed but the chimney remained. Hines, when developing Ravina, decided the chimney was a decent item to keep around, so they took it upon themselves to move it, restore it, and place it across from Perimeter Mall.  Were it not for Hines, that chimney would have been nothing more than firm footing for the asphalt now known as Ashford Dunwoody Road. (they probably now regret saving the chimney).

According to local legend, a revealing conversation took place in a kitchen in 1980.  Whose kitchen? I'm not sure.  But I am fairly sure Great Grandma Donaldson Chestnut Peeler Spruill had a couple jugs of Dunwoody moonshine, some fried apple pies, and a bag of Kaolin on the kitchen table.  So a story was told about the now once-again famous chimney - how it was part of some sharecropper shack or something to that affect.

So here we are in 2011 and Starbucks wants to sell some coffee.  They decided to incorporate the chimney into its design.  Enter Mr. Chimney and the Dunwoody Preservation Trust.  They want to preserve the chimney.  Well, that is understandable.  Were it not for old stuff around Dunwoody, there would be no Dunwoody Preservation Trust - they need stuff to Preserve, it's part of their name.  Like Pizza Hut will always need to sell pizza.

I thought the Starbucks design looked great.  A guy named Art Vandelay, an architect, gave a nice presentation. Starbucks is not new to designing stores and drive-thrus. and Hines is not going to allow coffee sellers to ruin Dunwoody's premium office/hotel location. But the council at times came off as very anti business.  The tension between the Hines representative and some on council was quite obvious.  When the PCID folks come to chat up some new store the tone is much more pleasant. This stack of rocks, aka the most famous Dunwoody chimney ever, has become a hot topic in some small (very very small) circles.  At this same meeting council approves a huge zoning change on public private roads, to make happy a new business for Perimeter, then hassle the heck out of a developer over a drive-thru lane that will hold 12 cars.  If council spends nearly an hour on a small Starbucks, I hate to see what happens when some real development gets going.  If elected to council, I promise to keep the community's best interest in mind, but I will also listen carefully to expert opinion.

So Art talked of how this Starbucks would have a 'FarmHouse' feel to it and promised a nice 2' x 2' bronze plaque on the chimney.  For good measure he tossed in a History Wall, another Starbucks first.  I was waiting to see what this guy pulled out next of his bag of tricks, but he stopped there.  Rule #1 of sales is stop talking once you seal the deal.  I was expecting a stack of gift cards to accidentally 'fall out' of his pocket, into council members' laps, but it did not happen.

Proposed ideas for the Chimney Plaque (Dunwoody Patch has an online poll, vote now)

Dunwoody Village Parkway
Somehow this road project came up for discussion. This project was set to break ground in 2012, now it is 2013.  This is the road by Ace and Village Burger, connecting Mt Vernon and Chamblee Dunwoody Rd Main Street. The new plan calls for extra wide sidewalks, bike lanes, and reducing traffic from four lanes to two.  Dr. Bonser said she was opposed to reducing the lanes here.  No one else commented.

Add Four More Police?
At the last meeting the addition of a special crime unit (four new officers, about $500,000) was removed from the 2012 budget.  King John (Mr. Heneghan) brought this item back to life.  It suffered the same fate as it did at last meeting, a defeat.  The specialized unit focus on crime prevention and is supposed to pinpoint hot spots for traffic and crime.  I can do that for a lot less than $500,000.

#1 Perimeter Mall.  50% of crimes in Dunwoody in this area.  We could add 16 officers to the force and people will still attempt to steal two handbags and a pair of wedge heels from Nine West. Malls attract shoplifters. Until we employ Paul Blart, that will never change.  The Perimeter business district may supply 25% of all tax revenue to the city, but that area requires more than 50% of our police coverage.  Next time you don't see a police officer in front of your kid's school, it is because they are down by Perimeter Mall cuffing a shoplifter or writing an accident report.  The area attracts people, and with people comes the need for police.  No way to avoid it.

I think if Chief came to council and asked for two officers, two officers dedicated to working the school zones during the day shift, it would have passed 5-2.

I recall mention that the ChatComm E-911 center will supply us with data in regards to crime and accident frequency.  Perhaps Chief can use that data.

Signs and Monuments
This item was discussed again, with Robert and Mr. Shortal wanting it removed from budget. It stays in the budget.

Ice (Plastic) Skating Rink Attraction for Dunwoody Village
The cost jumped from $70,000 to $92,000.  This thing melted quicker than Frosty the Snowman locked in the Brook Run greenhouse. If you want to skate this winter, head to the Cooler in Alpharetta.


SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

You might be interested in knowing that the promoter for DMF this year did want to include the chili cook off. The people who have historically been in charge of organizing it bowed out. Those are the gentlemen you have to speak to about "bringing back the cookoff" next year, not the Chamber or its promoter.

As far as Dunwoody bands and businesses - nobody was prevented from applying to participate.

Just an FYI. I've been hearing that gripe but it's directed at the wrong people.

RealHouseWifeofDunwoody said...

The chili cook off was a fund raiser for a non profit as I recall. This year's promoter wanted it to be a fund raiser for, who else, the promoter. Just sayin'. Maybe the promoter can entice local musicians in some way.

SDOC< i followed your tweets over the weekend. Why do you think the event failed to attract dunwoody residents?

SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

RealHouseWife -
Would be interested in knowing what you base your assumption on. Since I haven't dug up your identity, I don't know how you were involved.

As Bill said in the Council meeting info is still being gathered. I was just there having a good time like everyone else who attended and tweeted either what I saw or re-tweeted others' comments.

WorthWells said...

Rick- I am not opposed to the police cars being equipped with ALPR, please refer to the email I sent you last week and this morning. Thanks!

WorthWells said...

We were disappointed that the Chili Cook off was not held this year, we therefore did not attend. I could hear the music from my deck until late in the evening. I live a mile or so from the stages, cant imagine what it was like much closer!

SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

It was GREAT! Like I said in a tweet, I always wanted to hear Peterik sing "Vehicle" live, but never thought I would. Once in a lifetime!!!

Brent M said...

Clarification: Heyward and I (along with numerous volunteers from the Chamber of Commerce) have volunteered to organized the Dunwoody Chili Cook-off for the past two years. The Chamber and promoter Brian Hill asked us to do it again this year. Because of our personal work load, we opted to sit out 2011. The Chili Cook-off will return in 2012 and be even better!