Sunday, April 20, 2014

DeKalb County Commissioners Ignoring Dunwoody Again, Buying YMCA forSouth DeKalb

For those of you new to Dunwoody politics, pull out your DeKalb tax bill and look at the details.  You pay most to the DeKalb County School District.  In return, Superintendent Michael Thurmond develops a plan, with people not from Dunwoody, on how to spend that money.  Very few people in Dunwoody complain.  We just accept it and move on.  No use wearing a red shirt or writing letters to The Crier.

Also on that bill you'll see UNIC bonds.  These are bonds voted on and approved in all of DeKalb County, prior to us becoming a city.  The average Dunwoody homeowner pays $250 a year to pay off these bonds.  I'm not sure how much longer we'll pay these bonds, but it's at least ten more years, probably 15 or more years.

Part of the $250 bond fee on your tax bill is for the DeKalb jail.  When we (Dunwoody police) arrest someone, they are taken to the DeKalb jail.  Doraville has a jail and it's much closer (less transit time for officers and our new transport van = more time on the streets patrolling) but since we pay for DeKalb jail we continue to send them there. I'm glad our city council voted to hire a guy to transport the prisoners to the DeKalb jail.  This keeps cops on the streets here in Dunwoody

The other part of that UNIC bond is for parks.  There were votes on parks Bonds here in DeKalb in 2001 and 2005.  Both passed and we will continue to pay these bonds even though we now (City of Dunwoody) own our own parks.  DeKalb County promised to spend much of the parks bond money at Brook Run.  A quick drive through Brook Run and you'll see it is far from a nice park.  In my opinion we should not even call it a park.  We could call part of a playground, part of a skate park, part of it a toilet for metro Atlanta dogs, and part of it private green space for a neighboring neighborhood.  Back to the point - DeKalb County voters approved nearly $250 million in parks bonds, funds to be spent throughout all of DeKalb.  With Dunwoody property owners putting in lots of that $250 million, you'd think we'd have something more than a skate park to show for it.  

In summary, DeKalb County promised to spend money at Brook Run and that money was not spent at Brook Run.  The City of Dunwoody is in a legal battle with DeKalb over the funds.  Both sides will spend lots of money on legal fees.  I believe DeKalb County officials would rather spend $7 million with their friends (attorneys) than simply return $7 million for Dunwoody to spend at Brook Run.

Thanks to Councilman John Heneghan for providing the following links for those interested in the Brook Run funds being held hostage by Lee May and other DeKalb commissioners.  Perhaps Lee May or Elaine Boyer can make a proposal to allocate money to Dunwoody at their next gathering.

Where is interim CEO Lee May on this issue?  Lee, do you have the courage to give us that money or do you fear giving it to us will cause you to lose street-cred in your part of DeKalb?  I've heard Mr. May speak on bringing all of DeKalb together, so what say you Mr. May?

Same goes for Commissioner Boyer.  Unfortunately now may not be the best time for her to go to bat for Dunwoody residents (her District).  Commisioner Boyer, how will you vote on DeKalb County using Parks Bond money to buy a YMCA for south DeKalb?

Millions of dollars, Parks Bonds and County money, is set to be spent to buy a YMCA, and free memberships for certain DeKalb residents.  meanwhile DeKalb fights us on getting Brook Run to be a real park.  And what is Dunwoody doing at Brook Run?  We have a dog park for all of DeKalb, Fulton, Cobb, and Gwinnett County to use, free of charge of course, and we plan to spend more for people outside of Dunwoody to come and have their dogs pee and poop on ground that our kids would really like to use.  

See the story HERE.

from CrossRoads News:

The South DeKalb YMCA could soon become the property of DeKalb County.

The Board of Commissioners is set to vote April 22 on a proposal to acquire the YMCA, which sits on 18 acres at 2526 Snapfinger Road in Decatur, for $4.95 million and lease it back to the YMCA of Metro Atlanta for $1 a year for up to 50 years.

Under the proposed agreement, the county would enter into intergovernmental arrangement with the DeKalb Development Authority to operate the facility as a recreation site for up to 50 years. The authority would then enter into a long-term lease with the YMCA to improve, renovate and operate the South DeKalb YMCA facility.

The YMCA will spend the $4.95 million it receives from the sale of the property on the renovation and provide all furniture, fixtures and equipment for the South DeKalb YMCA. It would pay the Development Authority $10,000 for legal fees and $6,187 for its expenses.

Eston Hood, the Metro Atlanta Y’s chief operating officer, says this type of public-private partnership makes good business sense.
“We sell our land and reinvest and renovate and upgrade the YMCA,” he said. “We build more capacity. We can reach 1,000 more folks. We continue to run it. We add more programs for seniors. We respond to the obesity crisis, and we keep kids in structured activities. This really becomes a win, win and win for everybody.”
Under the agreement, the YMCA will renovate the 39,000-square-foot South DeKalb YMCA, add 10,000 square feet of new space for aerobics, a glass viewing area for parents to watch their kids take swimming lessons, family locker rooms, a spacious entrance atrium lobby, and new office space.

Hood said upgrades to the 18-acre property will include a new pavilion and water splash area for summer campers, new trails and new fencing.  Once the BOC approves the contract, Hood said construction could start by August or September and will take eight to 10 months to complete.

The South DeKalb Y currently employs 150 full- and part-time workers, which Hood said will double with the expansion.
DeKalb District 3 Commissioner Larry Johnson, who is co-sponsoring the YMCA purchase with District 7 Commissioner Stan Watson, said the county’s purchase of the South DeKalb YMCA ties in with its support of first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to end childhood obesity.

“It’s going to create more wellness in the county,” he said. “There are a lot of people with chronic diseases. We will have more space to serve more people. It will give us a state-of-the-art center to focus on wellness for seniors and youth.” 

The county proposes to use 2001 and 2006 Greenspace bond funds to make the purchase. Under the plan, it will use $2 million from 2001 countywide acquisition funds, $2 million from countywide acquisition funds from the 2006 bond funds, $651,842 from District 7, and $307,250 from District 3.

In its agreement with the Development Authority, the Metro Atlanta YMCA will operate the South DeKalb YMCA on a triple-net lease basis, providing for all operating expenses of the South DeKalb facility and contributing all of the furniture, fixtures and equipment.

It will use the proceeds from the sale to design, develop and construct additional improvements and renovate the existing South DeKalb facility. It is also responsible for all repairs and maintenance of the swimming pool, the grounds, buildings and structures.

“The YMCA shall be solely responsible for all of the operational, maintenance and management expenses of the South DeKalb facility, with no operating financial assistance from the county or the authority,” the proposed contract says.

The contract also calls for a waiver of the $100 to $150 joining fees for residents of ZIP codes 30032, 30034 and 30035 for the first 10 years, starting with the commencement date of the lease. It also calls for early program registration times, special program offerings and times for seniors, and financial assistance for families in need.

The county also will be able to use the facility for four free events a year, and the authority, twice a year.

If the YMCA is removed as operator by the county, it would receive a pro rata refund of the $4.95 million spent on renovations. If the county wants to sell to a third party, the Y would get right of first refusal.