Thursday, May 30, 2013

Brook Run Food Truck Event

Tonight at Brook Run is Week 2 for Food Truck Thursday at Brook Run. I heard last week lots of people showed up and this week they expect an equal number of people plus another truck or two.

The Dunwoody city council likes the event enough to donate $4,500 or so for police and trash. Some council members like the idea of bringing people together for an event. I agree it is nice to mingle with neighbors at a food event.

Fellow local blogger Dunwoody Working Girl has a piece out on local events. She puts forth the thought that money is flowing out of Dunwoody at events where the profits are not earned then banked by a Dunwoody resident. From her blog:

 Dunwoody as a city and community is losing money with most of these festivals.  Vendors and organizers set up shop to sell to the Dunwoody community, and then take the money elsewhere.  We're a cash cow.  Is that OK?  Or do we want to generate festivals and events that bring money into Dunwoody's coffers?  Dunwoody Working Girl

She makes some good points and some new comments add to the discussion. Thanks to Dunwoody Working Girl for bringing up the issue. She asks good questions.  Lemonade Days is a big money maker for the Dunwoody Preservation Trust.  It's a great event.  No other event brings together the kids of Dunwoody.  It is THE ONLY thing that actually attracts children to our largest park.  Yes, a carnival with rides and games of chance is the only time 99% of Lemonade Days attendees enter Brook Run Park.  That in itself is sad. But no money really stays here.  DPT hires a design firm from outside Dunwoody to craft the plans for the Donaldson-Bannister house.  So the money earned at Lemonade Days flows north to a firm, and then a DVD with renderings and plans flows back south in a few months.  Sure, the Donaldson-Bannister house will eventually benefit from Lemonade Days, but no money stays 'here'. At some point DPT will hire contractors and laborers to start the Donaldson-Bannister project.  The odds that a Dunwoody construction company employing only Dunwoody construction workers will be hired is quite slim, as such an entity does not exist.  So in the end, the community has an improved asset, not a pile of money.  Same for the Arts Festival.  The artists (or is it artisans?) make money and leave, but Dunnwoody residents keep the byproduct (the pieces of art) here in Dunwoody.

The Dunwoody Homeowners Association likes the Food Truck event as well. The DHA also likes community events. The city does not really benefit from the event and nor does the DHA. So why do these two groups support it? Both get warm fuzzies seeing a bunch of Dunwoody folks together at an event. Lemonade Days and the Dunwoody Arts Festival also bring us together and are well received by residents.

One thing these 'big' events have in common is they impact local Dunwoody businesses.  The Arts Festival has a negative impact on the gas station and some restaurants, but some other businesses see a bump.   Lemonade Days is contained to Brook Run, but if all those kids are at Lemonade Days they are not at Mellow Mushroom, Smoothie King, or the mall.  Food Truck Thursday - are the attendees skipping a meal at Marlow', Alison's, or Chick-fil-A?

It is a shame the only way to get moms, dads, and kids to assemble in our 100 acre park is to bribe them with food. But when your big selling point of a 100 acre park is a concrete jungle skateboard park is it any wonder why no one goes to Brook Run? You want to build community and have families gather in public spaces, then offer more than a concrete hole and a dog park.

There is another option. I would like the city council members, the city manager, and the DHA board members to go to Murphy Candler park and Morgan Falls park any day of the week. Here you will see hundreds of Dunwoody families gathered together, OUTSIDE of Dunwoody. Parks are great gathering places,..... When the park has real amenities that people want. A dog park is not an amenity that brings families together for fun. A dog park is a place for a dog to run around for awhile with other dogs while the dog owner scoops up poop with a plastic glove.

The multi-purpose trail at Brook Run is a great start to making Brook Run a destination park, but we want more. If you want to bring together families of Dunwoody then let's build softball fields, lacrosse fields, soccer fields, volleyball courts, and maybe a few more swing sets.

Sports fields obviously cost more than picking up trash after a Food Truck convoy, but how about some new discussion?

In the end, what matters to a community is infrastructure and people.  The people of Dunwoody choose to attend festivals and events regardless of who profits from said events.  People gather, they converse with each other, they eat together, their kids play together, then they go home to their Dunwoody home. They visit with neighbors and friends at the pool, at local festivals, at places of worship, and at local eateries and taverns. If we stop soliciting these venues, they leave.

In regards to infrastructure, we have schools and parks.  Many new friends are made every year at our local schools.  Families from one side of Dunwoody get to know families from the other side of Dunwoody via the middle and high school.  Parks?  Not really.  As mentioned before, head to Murphy Candler and Morgan Falls and you will see hundreds of local families.  These families would like to play lacrosse, soccer or softball or baseball here in Dunwoody, but the city as a whole has not come together on a plan.   

So until we have a plan in place, the kids and parents of Dunwoody will continue to leave Dunwoody for fun and activities, and those outside of Dunwoody will bring their dogs here to poop and pee in the park where your kids can't play.


Ken Thompson said...

Quarantining food trucks at an underused "park" is the kind of Lewis Carroll silliness I've come to expect in Dunwoody.

"Say, you should drive over to the park--they've got food trucks!"

"Yeah, really?" TRUCKS? Ya mean them thar boxes on WHEELS? With MOTORS? That can drive darn near anywhere?"

"Yeppers! Dems da ones. But Dunwoody only allows them over to the park."

But I think your real point is this "sense of place" thingy that keeps coming up. Now I suppose I'd take a smidgen of pride in saying to folks "yeah, my little town has a driving range" or "we run parking lot gymkhanas down at the village once a month--you should see Bill's Tiger" or "you'd love the indoor shooting range over at Brook Run" but I have to go to Morgan Falls, Road Atlanta, or Roswell Road for these. And coolness aside, do I really care that the Sandy Springs Gun Club is in Sandy Springs when I could actually walk there?

When it comes to publicly funded (nee my tax dollars at "work") I'm left a bit jaded by the whole Parks Bonds fiasco. I used to think there are a lot of folks here in Dunwoody that were lied to as they seem to have moved here for the parks--a bit like moving near an airport for the peace and quiet. Just absolutely baffling. Now I'm pretty convinced there were simply folks at City Hall who don't even live here who had schemes and plans for spending sixty MILLION dollars--basically taking advantage of the blinding enthusiasm surrounding a new city.

And I'm not suggesting we shouldn't maintain and improve what we have but we need to figure out who we are first.

Are we first and foremost the owners, caretakers, moochers or slaves of the newest big economic engine of the southeast? Are we a sleepy bedroom community? Are we the shining star of neo-urbanism "LEED"ing the way to a posh and progressive future? Are we a bunch of white haired "aged-in-place" old men sitting at a gas station discussing classic cars and the latest Banks & Shane tune? Or are we just another set of politicians and bureaucrats that the "little people" need to keep a close eye on? Maybe we've just enough of each of these to remain a bickering bunch of do-nothings.

Or maybe we just need to scoot on over to Farmer Bob's for cool refreshing sip from the cup of reality.

SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

"Maybe we've just enough of each of these to remain a bickering bunch of do-nothings"

Bingo. That's part of figuring out our identity as time goes on. It's what we signed on for when we incorporated. I don't think we'll march in place for long.

Rick, thanks for the link. The questions I was trying to get to ponder were 1) Why is there such a drive to push "live music" on the population as an activity when historically, in this city, it is not a huge draw? and 2) Is "warm fuzzies" enough of an ROI to support (with money and logistics) the current status quo with public events?

I didn't give an opinion - I asked the questions. ;-)

Momfirst said...

We tried to go last week. They didn't have the gate open on Peeler which created a cluster. It was packed! We weren't able to go until around 7:15 and most food trucks were sold out of many items and the lines were 20 people deep at best. We turned around and fortunately a DPD officer decided to direct the traffic so that it would clear out a littler better. We headed for Dunwoody Burger and had a great meal and so glad we didn't stay at Brook Run. Nice idea, not well executed (why force it into that small area between kids area and skate park when we have so much land) and just too crowded for us....

Kcaj said...

Went both times; last week too crowded. This week wide open with additional trucks. Peeler entrance open (cop sitting in car [maybe they should break out the DPD Segway {how did that get purchased in the first place?}]).

Money/tax/local-revenue concerns aside, quality of life improvements aren't always free. And yes, I think festivals and "foodie" attractions add quality.