Friday, September 30, 2011

Fall Festival Saturday

The weather looks nice and cool Saturday, perfect time for some fun at Peachtree Charter Middle School.

see HERE for some details.

The event is rain or shine, 9 AM to 4 PM Saturday.  Event includes baked goods, a silent auction, games, and fun for all.

Nature Center

Family Fun at
Dunwoody Nature Center!
   Register today!   
Saturday, October 15th, 2011
10:00AM - 4:00 PM
Featured activities:
• Time reserved Tree climbs*
• Rock Wall Climbing
• Birds of Prey Shows
• Guided Trail Walks
5343 Roberts Drive, Dunwoody, GA 30338
Come learn the “ropes” with Peter “Treeman” Jenkins and his team from Tree Climbers International, Inc., will be offering climbs in not one but TWO of our fabulously inviting tree climbing trees! “Treeman” is the Founder of tree climbing as an organized sport and creator of the tree climbing “culture.” He is world renowned for his expertise in the field and is a certified arborist as well. We are very excited to have these experts teaching our visitors “the ropes” of tree climbing! Members and non-members may reserve a timed ticket for their climb(s) when purchasing event ticket(s) on-line NO LATER THAN October 12th at 4:00 PM.
* Tree climbing slots will fill fast so reserve your climb time online by October 12 at:

After October 12, un-reserved climbs will be available on a first-come, first served basis at the festival.
One admission price per person does it all!
$10 for DNC Members
$15 for Non-members
(Kids under age 4 free)

Dunwoody Nature Center inspires the love of nature and cultivates environmental understanding and stewardship by: conserving and enhancing Dunwoody Park; educating children, families, and adults of all ages about the natural world and our place in it, and motivating environmental awareness and responsible action.
DNC is a 501(c)3 membership organization—become a member today!
*And special entertainment by
singer/songwriter Lori Linden
Calling all Volunteers...
Sign up now and join us for the
Tree Hug Festival,
October 15th!
We are planning our huge fall event—the Tree Hug with Peter “Treeman” Jenkins. We’ll need adult and teen volunteers for two hour shifts all day from 10:00-4:00. Volunteer assignments include assistance with parking logistics, assistance with tree climbing gear and assistance at Discovery Tables. Don’t miss this chance to spend an awesome autumn day among the woods of Dunwoody! Call Debra or Susan at 770-394-3322 today to volunteer.

What's Happening Now? 

Dunwoody Park is beautiful in every season. Turn into our lane, walk through the woods, and enjoy Dunwoody's hidden treasure. So much is happening at Dunwoody Nature Center . . .

 Fall Programs

Now Registering

Homeschool Science Studies: Hands-on topics are offered that correlate with the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) and grade level expectations. 
Nature Classes: Mommy & Me, Preschool Park Patrol, and Children's Nature Hour now through May 2012.
Upcoming Events!  
Holiday Home D├ęcor - November 12th. Make and take a beautiful, natural arrangement in the Adult craft class.

Gifts for the Earth - December 3rd. A fabulous gift making and environmental awareness invitational event for Dunwoody Nature Center Members.

Mornin o' Maple Sugaring, Saturday, January 21, 10 am - Noon.

Owl Always Love You, Saturday, February 11, 5 - 8 pm.
Please visit our website at

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Someone's Blowing Some Smoke Here in Dunwoody

A decent crowd on hand last night for the council meeting.  A sprinkling of candidates mixed with members of the media and a couple of spectators provided the backdrop to a fairly short meeting.

Mr. Bill Grant started off public comment by warning council not to buy any property without at least two appraisals.  If there is one thing Grant knows, it's real estate.  He has been on several committees in the city.  Mr. Grant said Dunwoody was the only game in town when it comes to buying big chunks of real estate.  I'll write a post next week about real estate.

Next up - ChimneyGate 2011. First, let it be known Big Sis Sandy Springs has the Chimney at Morgan Falls-Overlook Park.  The famous Sandy Springs Chimney was saved after a lengthy, professional archeological research study was conducted. Be careful when visiting the Sandy Springs Parks web site as you'll not find abandoned buildings and areas of passive use, but you will see people out actively enjoying green space.  But don't be jealous of their parks and river; we have the Dunwoody High School retention pond and the Vernon Jones Skate Park.

1839 chimney at Overlook Park in Sandy Springs

First, a little background.  Down on Ashford Dunwoody Road, across from the mall, there stands a very proud chimney.  The chimney is not attached to a log cabin - it is free standing.  It is right near Ravinia.  The 'when' and 'who' and 'why' of this chimney is up for debate.  Is it of historic importance?  Or is it simply a modern era decoration? Depends whom you ask.

Last night during public comment we heard from Mr. T. Chimney.  Mr. T Chimney said the chimney at Ravinia is REAL, and REAL old.  So, who's blowing smoke here?  Mr. T Chimney said he has the smoking gun chimney facts on his side, and does not want the chimney to become a decoration piece for sandal-wearing hippies and Wi-Fi moochers at a proposed Starbucks at Ravinia by Perimeter Mall.  Mr. T Chimney has in his corner the lady from the Crier who writes about old stuff (Valerie, I think), and a couple of people who were born in the basement of the FarmHouse.  They claim the chimney is a real chimney, and was here long before The Cheese Cake Factory, and even before MARTA! The newly formed ChimneyPosse believes the chimney is of times gone by origin.

The fine folks wanting to build a Starbucks at Ravinia say the chimney was built using Lincoln Logs, QuickRete concrete from Home Depot, laborers from the Sandy Springs Northwoods Drive labor pool, and random boulders found on site............ in 1987. Did perhaps the laborers, back in 1987, find an historic chimney on site, then move it to its current location, then fill it with rebar and concrete?  Stay tuned to see who is Blowing Smoke in Dunwoody.

Back to the meeting. The city won an award for its branding campaign.  No further comment.

Proclamation of Red Ribbon Week.  A nice program used to warn kids of the dangers of drugs and booze.  A fine young man was there to join in the announcement.

Next up we had more fireworks regarding the 911 issue.  In about a week your 911 calls will go to ChatComm.  Councilman Ross is still not pleased about this situation.  He makes a good point when he says the contract the city has with ChatComm will not be fulfilled because we (Dunwoody) will not be receiving the same services as Sandy Springs.  At issue here is the fire and ambulance calls.  I've written about this issue several times so use the 'search' feature to your right to look it up.  Councilman Wittenstein rightfully pointed out that there are provisions in the ChatComm contract that may allow for the city to be refunded some money.  We'll see in a week how this all plays out.  I sincerely hope the transition is smooth and no lives are affected by the delay in transferring fire/ambulance calls to a secondary 911 center at DeKalb.  Ross claims a drop in our fire rating may occur, costing the average homeowner $200 (more than the bonds) a year in insurance fees.  Time will tell.

Second read on amending code to allow for a private road to be sub-divided.  This may not be a big issue as some think.  I know why the big push is being made for this, and I want more jobs in Dunwoody.  No way should a sign ordinance keep a company from moving here.  The PCID should have its own sign ordinance.  If elected to council, I will push for a separate sign ordinance for the PCID area, having different guidelines than other areas of the city.  That being said, if the people pushing hard for this change had simply made their private road a public road, an amendment affecting the entire city would not have been needed. Anyway, that client had better move in before the end of the year or the people pushing for this lose credibility with me and hopefully all of the city council and staff.

Award of Contract for City Signage Design.  $39,000 of taxpayer funds to study and implement a way-marking sign system in our city. Overall, look for the city to spend half a million dollars on road paving and sidewalks signs and monuments over the next three years.  No, this was not included in the $100,000 branding campaign.  But hey, maybe we'll win a Savvy Award for best street signs in 2012 - then we'll have even more reason to celebrate.

This use of funds surprisingly passed 6-1, with Robert the lone holdout.  I gave Robert props for noting the ChatComm contract allows for some recourse if ChatComm fails to perform as contracted, so to maintain balance I'll mention that I don't think Robert really wanted to vote No on signs.  Uncharacteristically, Robert made no comments during discussion of this issue tonight.  Those of us who attend council meetings and work sessions know Robert comments on everything.  Tonight, not so.  Robert made no attempt to block the spending of these funds.  The $39,000 issue came up a couple weeks ago at the work session.  Robert then said he would not support the $39,000, but Warren, the city manager, mentioned the cost was under $50,000 and he could execute the contract with or without council consent.  Warren suggest placing the item on the consent agenda, where it would not be discussed.  Mr. Shortal insisted the topic be on the agenda, and it was there at Monday's meeting.  But back at the work session, when Shortal questioned the costs related to this project, Robert said he did not want Warren to be restricted to what items he contracts for, as long as the items are under $50,000.  If Robert was opposed to this use of funds, why not come out and ask Warren not to spend it?  Furthermore, Robert said council should not interfere with how Warren executes contract for under $50,000.  Watch the video here, go to time 1:22:06 through 1:22:42 and listen for yourself. I'm glad Robert voted 'no' on this item, I hope it was a sincere No, and I would have preferred he made somewhat of an attempt to discourage his council partners to vote No. It should be noted Robert did vote to spend $150,000 on this project for 2011. Lots of talk about crosswalks, sidewalks, and road paving form council members, then they continue with a half million dollar signage program for the city.  I don't see this as a high priority, sorry.

Two Appraisals - The city put in some language that requires two appraisals for land purchases going forward. Who said Farmer Bob was losing his touch?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pancakes, Guns, and Sustainability

Quite the headline, I know.  How can one tie together pancakes, guns, and sustainability?  I'll give it a shot.  First, I did not make it to the pancake breakfast at Dunwoody High School. 

The Dunwoody patch has a piece on that event HERE.

Opponent Terry was present and won the raffle.  Photo by Barton

My other opponent, Robert, was in attendance as well.  Photo taken by David Barton.
I took a break from the campaign trail and headed to the GSSF match at the South River Gun Club. For those of you interested in competition shooting, GSSF (for Glock owners) is an excellent program.  Locally the Sandy Springs Gun Club and Range hosts matches.  The range is located just over the western border of Dunwoody, near Quik Trip on Roswell Rd.  The range offers classes for new and experienced shooters, and has classes for women as well. 

I'm on the right, green shirt

For those of you who asked for yard signs, I'll be back in the Grocery-Getter this week, dropping off signs.  If you have yet to receive a sign and want one, please email me at

So now, a word or two on sustainability.  First off, there is a forum scheduled for Tuesday, October 25th, at Dunwoody United Methodist Church.  I am not sure if all candidates are attending.

Dunwoody Candidate Forum on Sustainability
Sponsored by the Dunwoody Nature Center
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
6:00 pm
Dunwoody United Methodist Church
This is an opportunity for you to hear from the candidates for Mayor and City Council and their positions on such topics as:
·          Economic Development, Clean/Green Technology and Sustainable Business Practices
·          Sustainable funding and planning strategies for Parks, Trails and Green Space
·          Land use and city planning as it relates to development
·          Multi-Modal Transportation
·          Energy
·          Solid Waste Management
·          Social Impact on Sustainability: Aging Population, Demographic shift  from Single family to multi- family, Attracting & Retaining Young Professionals
·          Locally-Sourced Food Access
·          Air & Water Quality
·          Dunwoody Sustainability Plan / Sustainable Vision for Dunwoody
Date:     Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Time:     6:00 – 9:00 pm
6:00 – 6:45 pm: Coffee with the Candidates
6:45 – 9 pm Candidate Forum
The word 'sustainable' is one of those words that used to mean one thing, now means many. According to widely accepted reference materials, sustainability = the capacity to endure.

I'll accept that definition.  If something very bad were to happen whereas we had a collapse of society, could you endure?  Do you have the tools and skills to endure? Are you prepared to grow crops and feed your family?  Do you have seeds stashed away?  It sounds absurd to many of you, but give it some thought.  Currently I maintain seven garden beds, two at the Dunwoody Community Garden. My family consumes a decent amount of home-grown food.  Some of you may belong to a farm co-op, most of you purchase all your food from Publix and Costco.  The great thing about living in America is we can choose to grow our own food, or buy it from others.  Aside from growing vegetable and fruits, do you, as a carnivore, have the tools and ability to harvest your own herbivore for consumption?  If not, are you sure you are sustainable? Venison is a favorite here. No hormones, no food coloring, and no preservatives pumped into freshly harvested venison.

The 'sustainable city' is an entirely different species.  There are lots of resources out there on the topic - do a Google search.  Take a look at the topics proposed for the upcoming forum.  As a city, I don't think Dunwoody has much say in regards to water quality and waste management.  These are services provided by DeKalb County and/or City of Atlanta, depending on where you live in Dunwoody. Not sure how a local candidate can prepare for such topics.  Unless one of our candidates has an outhouse I don't see how one candidate can win over an audience on that topic.  Surely no one running for office in Dunwoody is in favor or mandatory toilet and faucet upgrades modifications to low volume fixtures. Maintaining the storm water system is important, as is limiting the chemicals used on lawns that make their way into the storm water system. Establishing best practices standards for surface runoff  (pavement, pervious surfaces, etc) is important as a city.  Already we have rule sin place for this topic.

Part of the sustainable city blueprint is high density.  High density seems to appeal to people who have little say in the matter - like the fine people of Europe and Asia.  When given the option (as we have here in America) many people will choose to live in a rural or suburban setting as opposed to an urban setting.  Think of your local sustainability folks - do they reside in a high-density apartment complex beside a mass transit rail station and shun automobiles?  No, they live in a single family home with a nice yard and green grass. 

In cities that are not growing out physically (Atlanta has no natural boundary like a mountain or ocean to stops its growth) like New York and Seattle, high density living is common.  Here in metro Atlanta, people seem to like the big home on a big lot.  Dunwoody has attracted families for decades due to our large residential lots and amenities nearby. One argument against expanding parks is the vast amounts of green space commonly known as your backyard (see HERE)

As the Perimeter area of Dunwoody grows jobs, it needs to have housing.  Currently there is ample supply of multi-family housing in Perimeter, and over 10,000 units are already zoned for future builds.  The High Street development has yet to break ground, so I do not see the need for additional units to be planned or built.  In neighboring Sandy Springs there are many multi-family units that will serve as homes for future PCID workers, and the area surrounding the PCID (not accounted for in the PCID LCI presentation) also has quite an array of multi-family housing.

One thing to make clear - the Perimeter CID does not just build things without approval.  Any new developments and zoning changes come before the city (prior to becoming a city DeKalb County performed  handled this function).  The city is in control.  The PCID can design all sorts of options for future land use, but it is ultimately the city council who decides what gets built. Same goes for land purchases; the city is in control.  Who will make those decisions for the city going forward?  The voters will make that decision in about 40 days.

Locally-sourced food access?  What role does our city play here?  Seems like a personal choice to me.  One can choose to consume mass-produced foods from food factories or one can source from other venues. I don't think it is the government's job to insure locally sourced food is available.  The open market does that currently.  It's also not the Government's job to restrict those wanting to grow their food crops.  You want to grow tomato plants in your front yard?  Please proceed.

Multi-Modal transportation?  If an area of Dunwoody wanted to offer trolley services and shuttles, I have no problem with that.  If a business near Perimeter Mall wants to shuttle employees/clients to and from a MARTA station, that's their business decision to make. Should taxpayers subsidize that?  We already have heavy rail in Dunwoody, something most neighboring cities do not have in place.  How the areas around the rail stations is developed could forever change Dunwoody - better or worse.