Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dunwoody Real Estate Trade with DeKalb School System?

Imagine this headline:

Dunwoody in Land Swap with DeKalb School System: City gets Austin Elementary School and Old Chamblee Middle School, DeKalb Gets Dunwoody Park

Project Renaissance?  Dunwoody Parkway?  Let's discuss something even bigger than duplexes in Georgetown. Bigger than an eighty-foot wide bike lane in front of a hardware store and oil change facility. Bigger than GasStationGate.

In a couple of years DeKalb School System will build a new elementary school in Dunwoody. The school system has few options at the moment.  Option 1 is to rebuild on the current site.  Option 2 is to buy a 20 acre track down by the mall.  Option 3 is to find other land.  Option 4 is to punt.

Here's an idea floating around.  The current Austin school becomes city property.  The school is knocked down and the area becomes a local park of some sort.  A playground, maybe a band shell built for Bad Neighbors concerts, maybe even that Frisbee golf course.  Neighbors in north Dunwoody would have a major voice in the new park design, and the city staff may even solicit the opinion  of parents with children for ideas.  No baseball fields here, sorry.  But baseball lovers, stick around for another paragraph or two.

The new elementary school in Dunwoody would be built where the two baseball fields are now located. This parcel is larger than Austin's current home and allows for an easier build.  This allows a larger school to be built closest to where most of its inhabitants reside.  Nearly half of the kids will still be within walking distance.  A relationship between the Nature Center and the school could be created.

But the deal is not quite done.  The city also gets the old school site on Chamblee Dunwoody Road (across from the PVC pipe farm / Project Renaissance property).  This site would see a couple of Cat D8 bulldozers arrive and promptly knock down the buildings on that site.  What to do on this property?  It depends on many factors but it could be the new home of the Dunwoody Sr. baseball league (but I think the league needs to move to Murphy Candler once the Atlanta Colts football program moves to Brook Run).  Or it could be home to SAD. Or it could be an empty field for a couple of years.

The best idea is to renovate Austin where it sits and build a new elementary school elsewhere in Dunwoody.   This adds more seats and lowers the cost per seat significantly. 

While baseball supporters may not be keen to the idea, I'd like to remind everyone that a new local school affects way more Dunwoody residents than does a couple baseball fields.  What's more important to the area?  Keeping the school local in the neighborhood or keeping two baseball fields at Dunwoody Park?