Saturday, February 19, 2011

Coke Freestyle Drink Machine at Moe's

Went over to Moe's on Saturday evening for a Joey (steak, rice, beans, sour cream).  As I approached the cash register to pay (kids eat free on Saturdays with every adult meal) I glanced to my right and saw a very cool looking soda dispensing unit. It's the new Coca Cola Freestyle machine. The touch screen is up high but there is a feature that allows folks in a wheelchair to manipulate the screen and select a drink.  Only downside as only one person at a time can get a drink.  The old style fountain system allowed a couple people to shove their cups under the dispenser heads (as long as they were getting different flavors).

Ever have an orange flavored Diet Coke?  How about peach flavored Fanta?  I think this machine has 100 or so possibilities.  Head over to the Dunwoody Moe's beside Publix, get a Joey Jr. for yourself and a Moo Moo Mr. Cow for your kid.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Austin, Vanderlyn, Chesnut, Kingsley Gone by 2020?

Within ten years will four of our five elementary schools be gone?  Will those four schools be replaced by three larger elementary schools?  It's a very good chance.  As Dunwoody residents battle and debate over tenths of a mile proximity and North of this Street and South of that Street will all of this current redistricting mean anything by the year 2014, 2016, or 2020?

The State of GA has a special formula it uses to fund schools.  Yes, in Georgia we DO NOT fund students, WE FUND SCHOOLS.  It would be too easy to designate a dollar figure to a child, and let those dollars follow the child.  But that's not what happens.  Gwinnett County has mastered the State funding process. They build schools based on maximizing how many dollars they can get from the State.  They build big schools.

In the past, DeKalb had the mentality that small, neighborhood schools were better for educating children.  I believe that to be true then, and I believe it today.  But the State does not share that opinion (at least not based on how they fund schools).  Dunwoody Elementary is the first of four large regional elementary schools for the Dunwoody Cluster.  It was built to house at least 900 students and to receive maximum funding from the state.  If you don't like the idea of 900 kids in elementary schools don't complain to your school board - complain to your state representatives (House and Senate). It's too late in the Legislative Session now for any Bills, but plant that seed now.  If you want neighborhood schools to stay, you need to get things changed at the State level first.

The campuses at Vanderlyn, Chesnut, Kingsley, and Austin are too small for 900 kids.  When DeKalb says 900 kids, they are talking 900 with no trailers and no modulars. If the county purchased the church next to Austin they could expand that school's footprint, but the traffic would be insane on a 2-lane Roberts (at one time State DOT plan called for Chamblee Dunwoody/Roberts Dr to be four lanes from I-285 all the way to GA 400, but don;t look for that to happen). No way for Kingsley or Vanderlyn to expand.  Possible for Chesnut to add an addition, maybe.

Where will the county find land for three more DES type schools?  Not much open dirt sitting around here.  The county is aware of the situation and is probably looking today for land.  Of course the City of Dunwoody may be looking for land as well (to convert to green space).  Organizations like the Urban Land Institute of Atlanta and others have identified parcels suitable for schools and parks in our area. The city hopes to put forward a bond in November.  The bond plan not only calls for improvements to existing parks, but also for the acquisition of other land for future parks.  The eminent domain term was tossed about over a green way and citizens have responded - negatively.

Most likely Council will pull the green way plan from a November bond plan.  But don't expect the same treatment from DeKalb Schools. If the school system identifies 12 acres in Dunwoody for a new elementary school, I doubt they will hesitate to use force to obtain it.  We are not there now, and they will be looking at commercial property, not your cul-de-sac.  The school board first needs another SPLOST (and then another SPLOST after that) to get this done. The City of Dunwoody may be the one buying the old school sites, converting them to green space in ten or fifteen years.  I can see it now:  Chesnut Playground, Kingsley Park, Vanderlyn Outdoor Leisure Complex, Austin's Access to Green Space, etc.

In ten years DES may be the ONLY neighborhood school, and the most coveted school in the cluster.  Most likely (based on current land use) the next area to get a school would be the Georgetown area and possibly somewhere near Perimeter.
Yes, the first 2020 Map of Record
I call this one the Super H map

It's not uncommon in other areas of DeKalb for kids to travel three or more miles to elementary school, so expect the same here (no matter the lip service of walkability for homeowners.  The walkability will be for the MFH units, not homeowners). There are approximately 12,000 apartments/condos approved (before we became a city) for the Perimeter area.  It is very unlikely any new single family homes will be built in Dunwoody due to land availability.  All new growth will be already-approved multi family housing at Perimeter.  Dunwoody is about 50% multi family housing now, and could reach 65% by 2020 if the economy improves in the next two years.

Not all school districts will chase the State money.  Some will keep the neighborhood school philosophy.

Tom Taylor is our State Representative and Fran Millar is our State Senator. As mentioned, it's too late in the session to get a Bill on the issue of student school funding, so contact these two guys in April.