Friday, August 24, 2012

Bicycle Lanes in Duwnoody


So for the first time ever I road a bike in Dunwoody last weekend.  No, it was not a bike ride to Marlow's for a beer; it was a leisurely ride to the Dunwoody Nature Center.  I wanted to see all the action over at the DNC and eat a hot dog from the Knights of Columbus booth.  A tipster informed me parking was full and traffic was heavy.  So instead of driving, I rode my bike.  I made it there and back without having cardiac arrest and without getting hit by a car. That's a successful ride in my book.

I used the bike lane on Roberts, and the bike lane made it the easiest part of the trip.  Chamblee Dunwoody Road from Spalding to Roberts was not bad, but not much of a designated bike lane there.

A big issue is coming up in regards to Dunwoody Parkway.  I support the Village Renaissance (Dunwoody Parkway) project as a whole, with details to be worked out.  The big issue on Dunwoody parkway is to add or not add two five-feet wide bike lanes.  It's obvious the current trees in the median need to go - they are not the best choice for median trees.  The root system is destroying the pavement.  Don't worry - we can plant new trees.  That's the great thing about trees - they are a renewable resource. All you do is plant new ones and they grow.  Simple.  In fact, if the council decides to cut those median trees one of the high school clubs could sell raffle tickets to win the right to fire up a chain saw and take out a tree.  Better than a car wash at Burger King that nets you $118 after 200+ man hours in a parking lot on a Saturday.

So should we include bike lanes on Dunwoody Parkway? It depends.  Will these bike lanes connect to other 4 or 5 feet wide bike lanes in the near future?  If yes, then go ahead.  If no, then put in wide sidewalks instead.

I don't think the bike lanes in Dunwoody should be built simply for the enjoyment of the hard-core bike group(s) in the area.  I know we have a dedicated cycling club of some sort here in Dunwoody.  They bike for fun and exercise.  We don’t need to build a million dollars of bike lanes for 20 or 30 guys.  If the city wants to commit to building things for the benefit of fun and excersie, let's do it in the form of athletic fields for kids.  

If the city commits to bike lanes then the bike lanes need to connect the neighborhoods to the restaurants, pools, schools, and the parks.  I’m not sure of the technical term, but I’ll call it intra-city bike lanes.  My point is that I think bike lanes in Dunwoody should focus on people moving around Dunwoody on bikes more so than trying to connect Dunwoody to some non-existent bicycle lane network in the north metro area. A family being able to ride bikes to a local business for an ice cream, burger, or a beer would reduce traffic and help keep the community active.  Connecting Dunwoody to Alpharetta or Buckhead via a bike lane does little for local families and semi-active adults, and serves only the desire of the hard-core bikers.

I think Dunwoody residents would appreciate seeing a long-term bicycle route plan for the city.  Questions to answer would include:

Can a Dunwoody North resident ride in a 4 or 5 foot wide bike lane from Peachtree Middle School to Dunwoody Village?

Can a resident in Redfield ride in a bike lane from Chamblee Dunwoody Road to Brook Run?

Can a rider in Village Mill ride in bike lanes all the way to Mellow Mushroom?

Can you get to the library from Springfield using bike lanes?

Can you ride from Kingsley to Los Rancheros?

Most Dunwoody residents are not going to ride a bike to Perimeter Mall.  No one rides a bike to a mall.  You go to a mall to shop and buy goods.  How you going to transport those goods on a bike?  

Most Dunwoody residents are not going to ride their bike to the Square in Roswell or to Virgina Highlands or to Hal's steak house in Buckhead.

But some Dunwoody residents would like to be able to ride to the Village or library or Brook Run or maybe to the future Georgetown parks. Piecemealing random bike lanes across the city is not a plan.  Let's see a map of long-term bike lane possibilities.


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?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Dunwoody Supports Quality Events and Places

The Dunwoody Nature Center Butterfly Festival this past weekend is an example that Dunwoody residents (and those nearby) will support a quality event.  The Dunwoody Arts Festival and Lemonade Days are two other examples of things that draw huge crowds.  
The Dunwoody Music Festival seems to be the lone exception.  The music festival failed for a few reasons, but the main reason was the 'professional' brought in to run it last year did not know Dunwoody.  If that event had catered more to the tween/teen market it would have been packed like Lemonade Days.  The music festival needed two stages; one stage for the parents and one for the 10-15 age group.  They should have brought in a big name act for the tween market instead of a 'big name' for the adults, and the parents would follow the kids to the event.  Also, the music event can't be in late fall due to kids' soccer and baseball and college football.  May or August is when the event needs to be held. The 2nd or 3rd week of August is ideal.
video from Firkin and Gryphon, St Patrick's Day 2010

The other 'big' thing to happen around here is the opening of Marlow's Tavern in da ville. The place has been open 21 days now and the place has been packed 21 days in a row!  It's quite strange to see people out on the Marlow's lawn, moving about in our quaint little Village.

Imagine what type of renaissance would take place around Marlow's if the city put some money into the street scape of Dunwoody Parkway.  Imagine a vibrant commercial area with locals spending money and hanging out mere feet off of Main Street.  But many people will object to that idea.  After all, all those people milling about hamper many seniors' ability to safely drive the Buick across the Village parking lot to pick up their prescriptions at Walgreen's (I think they still have the Shingles vaccine on special through the end of the month) and to mail their letters at the what seems to be the only mail box in Dunwoody where those aged 70+ mail letters. And don't forget about the trees.  No way should we cut down a tree, ever.  Unless of course it makes way for closer/more parking spots at the church or if the tree is on a person's home lot.  Just don't cut trees planted in the middle of a road and don't cut  trees that create a buffer shielding residents from seeing or hearing children playing at a park.

It is okay to allow packs of peeing and pooping dogs (and the occasional 'killer' dog) to destroy trees for no reason other than a person acquired a dog that they can't take care of properly at home.  They got a dog then realized they don't have a yard suitable for the dog to run and play in?  Dog parks are the modern day housing projects of the urban and suburban dog owners - a subsidized welfare type playground for dogs.  Have you ever seen a private for-profit dog park?  Me either.

The nicest shade trees on Dunwoody Parkway are actually on private property (by Marlow's), not the trees in the median.

The relationship between people and trees can be odd at times.  People for the most part don't care about trees until they need that tree to block improvements to a park or street or private property.  Look at Brook Run - the city's vast desert of boredom.  For most days nearly all of this 100 acre green space is void of people.  But it has trees.  And without trees we would all die. Just look at Las Vegas - no trees and no signs of life. lol

The people opposed to creating athletic fields at Brook Run suddenly develop a special relationship with the trees.  To those living near Brook Run green space the trees are like food and water.  Remove them and we all die.  Same on Dunwoody Parkway.  Those trees provide shade for thousands of people .................... ONCE a year,... at a parade.  Give me a break.  Why are these same people not out buying and planting trees around the world?  Because they don't really care about trees.  They care about stopping others from making changes. "Don't change the road", "don't change the park green space", "don't change that property down the street that I don't even own".  Trees - the scapegoat of city improvements or a safeguard from unneeded projects?  

For those opposing projects due to financial issues, I understand.  But please don't hide behind a 30 foot pine or a 15 foot crape myrtle and claim to be a reborn tree-hugger.  These Dunwoody tree huggers simply oppose a park improvement because they want to keep Brook Run as their neighborhood's private tree preserve or because they oppose an infrastructure improvement in the city's most important commercial district outside the PCID.

I'd venture to say Dunwoody has more shade trees now than it did 40, 80 and 100 years ago. The DPT staff can consult the Poor Farmousers Almanac to verify this claim. Long gone are the Dunwoody farms and pastures of yesteryear.  The original Farmhousers lived off the land, clearing it for raising crops and livestock.  Now we have neighborhoods with shade trees all over the place.
green trees in Dunwoody, population 50,000
Salwa, Kuwait, approx 50,000 people, not many trees
In regards to Dunwoody Parkway, I'm not totally convinced the plan on the table is the best, but I do recognize the importance of improvements to certain areas of the city.  If Project Renaissance at Georgetown is worthy of $6-7 million in taxpayer money, then I think $1 million may be justified for the Parkway Renaissance. At least the parkway project would benefit locals, not the cut-through traffic from Fulton and Gwinnett.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Yellow Bhut and Red Ghost Peppers

After starting from seed many months ago, the pepper crop is impressive the past couple of weeks.  Want to try a bite of a red ghost or yellow Jolokia (bhut) pepper or the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T pepper?  Send me an email and you can have a couple.  Plenty here for those interested in trying the hottest pepper in the world.  Stay tuned as I'm going to have Sustainable Pattie film me and Farmer Bob each eating one.  Farmer Bob has not been in the news as of late and I'm doing this as a publicity stunt for him.  Anyone else want in on the hot pepper eating video?

If interested in seeds let me know.

ghost  mixed with some other peppers
yellow bhut
Red ghost and Trinidad Scorpion Butch T
started these plants from seed in April
started indoors
I'm working on a new hybrid, growing the Trinidad Scorpion and the Red ghost.  If successful I'll need a name for it.  First name that comes to mind is the Freakin' Fahrenheit Farmhouser.  Or maybe the Georgia FireAnt pepper.

Here's a quote from a guy who grew the Trinidad Scorpio:

“I had hallucinations, I had to lie down, I couldn’t walk for 20 minutes, dizzy,” said Marcel de Wit.  Marcel de Wit  was apart of the group  of men who developed and grew the vegetable.  His thoughts on eating a raw Trinidad Scorpion Butch T.  ”I had hallucinations, I had to lie down, I couldn’t walk for 20 minutes, so dizzy.” He continued “This chilli was so severe. I will never, ever do it again, I can tell you that.”
A jalapeno scores approximately 5,000 units on the Scoville scale.  The Trinidad Scorpion and ghost varieties are around the 1,000,000+ unit mark.

Lots of funny videos on YouTube. search for 'eating ghost pepper' or 'ghost pepper'.