Thursday, May 7, 2015

Theater Update Brook Run

For those of you not in the know, this blog is part satire and parody, and part unofficial news, and once in a while, real news.  When it comes to school stuff, we keep it serious, most of the time.

When discussing local businesses we keep it light and respectful, promoting local restaurants.  We've promoted Mellow Mushroom (Hoegaarden on draft and fresh hot pizza) for years.  We plug Marlow's, The Tavern, Cafe at Pharr, and more.  

For politics and city issues, we're all over the place.  

Yesterday we posted a piece about the CVB, and well, a few people didn't like it.  Many did.  

Here's the story:

There's a building in Brook Run Park that used to be a theater.  The theater went dark 15 years ago.  Dunwoody has grown and thousands of people have moved here, even though this building was left to decay.  The lack of a theater has not hurt Dunwoody one bit.  Homes are selling, businesses are opening, and we have sidewalks and freshly paved roads.

Although we lack a real theater (no offense to SDP, but we mean real as in a dedicated theater), we also lack usable green-space parks.  Dunwoody has zero soccer fields, zero lacrosse fields, and of course no softball fields.  We do have two baseball fields, used exclusively for Dunwoody Metro Atlanta Senior Baseball. If you want to reserve those fields, don't call the city.  Dunwoody Sr. Baseball officials handle the bookings.  Good luck with that. 

But let's get back on task - the CVB and the abandoned building in Brook Run. 

Brook Run Park was granted to DeKalb County over a decade ago, with some restrictions.  Seventy percent (70%) of the park must remain as urban green-space.  An asphalt parking lot is not green-space.  A concrete sidewalk (or trail) is not green-space, and a brick building is not green-space.  A concrete skate park is not green-space.  The skate park, roads, sidewalks, parking lots, existing buildings, and the trail consume much of the allowable 30% non green-space. If you knock down a couple more buildings, you have more space available for green-space.

The big battle here is if Brook Run becomes a park like Murphy Candler, Hammond Road park, and Morgan Falls,  or remains mostly dormant and unused.  It's a task the mayor and city council will handle in 2016 when the Master Parks Plan is revisited. 

There is a small group (DT staff says 50, but the group probably claims thousands) that wants the theater preserved, rebuilt, and used again.  If Dunwoody had the same money and space and existing park assets as Sandy Springs, and there was no deed restriction at Brook Run, I'd be 100% in favor of a theater remake.  But we don't have parks like Sandy Springs, and we certainly don't have the annual income of Sandy Springs (their annual budget is 5X ours but only double the population). In summary, Dunwoody has to prioritize its needs and wants.

So this group of Dunwoody residents wants to save the theater.  Please note there is not a majority of votes on council to rebuild the theater.  I think the issue has one, two at most, votes on city council.  Put to a vote today, it fails 6-1. To end this entire issue, someone on council should put an RFP to demo the theater building on the next meeting agenda.  Knock it down and move on.  Put a lacrosse field in its place and don't look back.

So, back to the CVB, we promise. 

The SaveTheTheater group wants to spend other people's money on a study on the costs to save the theater.  Our city council said no to funding the study (an obvious hint that there is no support for a theater in Brook Run).  The SaveTheTheater group solicited the Dunwoody CVB for money.  According to a CVB board member, the CVB "did agree to partially fund a research study to determine the feasibility of this theatre (sic) as it relates to the CVB’s ability to successfully promote this attraction outside of the area".  However, according to the member, "And finally, while we have committed to this financial participation, no payments have yet been made as we are awaiting clarification on a few items."  Clarification?  Why hand over $5,000 if things weren't clear? 

In the opinion of the DunwoodyTalk staff, the abandoned building in Brook Run is NOT an issue the Dunwoody CVB should address.

After posting the original CVB Theater blog post, we received the following comment:
The comment and our response:

As xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx and xxx of the CVB, I would ask you to report the facts and not fiction relative to the CVB’s involvement with the theatre at Brook Run Park.

DT: Fiction?  You confirmed the Board voted to fund the SaveTheTheater posse.

I understand that your comments are simply your opinion but if you choose to quote someone, please quote a real person and not the two fictitious persons (Kimmie Knight and Kathryn Drawicle) with fictitious quotes.

DT: Sounds like a good idea.  Thanks for providing us with direct quotes.  But please note that we don't always put the names of folks out there.  We felt no need to include real names here, even though our original post in on the first second page of a Google search.  If the CVB folks want us to use their real names we can edit the post.  Have them contact us.

The CVB serves an extremely important role in bringing tax dollars to Dunwoody so you as a resident can benefit from this source of revenue.

DT:  Partially accurate.  It's hotel guests bringing tax dollars to Dunwoody, not the CVB.  The CVB, via the hotels, serves as our tax collector.   Yes, we do benefit.  Looks like the city brought in $800,000 or so in hotel taxes in 2014, maybe 3% of the budget?  The CVB share of the take is a million or so? I hope you don't think the CVB is responsible for bringing in the revenue.  It's the marketing efforts of your hotel staff and the other hotels that do most of the leg work.  Our city's location sure helps.  If the CVB disappeared I doubt your vacancy rates would change much, if it all.  But I'm not in favor of ridding ourselves of the CVB because then DeKalb CVB would take over.

As Board members, we volunteer our time to help the CVB team in their efforts to promote Dunwoody.

DT:  Thanks for volunteering! I've done a little of that here as well.  Feels good to help others.   Here's a link to volunteer outside of the hotel industry. 

To this end, your false reporting of the facts combined with the denigration of the new CVB logo is insulting to me as both xxxx and a hospitality business leader in the community.

DT: Nothing false was reported.  A little satire, yes.  But the fact is your Board voted to give away $5,000 after a guy showed up and asked for it.  I suggest you go back and read some other blog posts from the past five years.  Lots of good stuff.  Here's one of my favorites.  RecycleRedShirts. We Luv Vandy and VB. Gangs.

DT: Denigration of the logo?  LOL. Don't blame me on that one - blame the ad firm that designed it.  We at DT had no involvement with Smart City, the * debacle, or the new dippin dot CVB logo. You need to take ownership for that piece of work.  Dunwoody is full of creative people.  You and the city both should have opened up the logo designs to all residents as a contest.  Lots of high schoolers and college kids would have loved to participate. And besides, adding 'dance, drama, and display' is a nice touch. 

To set the record straight, the Board did agree to partially fund a research study to determine the feasibility of this theatre as it relates to the CVB’s ability to successfully promote this attraction outside of the area. 

DT: So, we did not report false information?  An attraction?  it's an empty building with asbestos and a decent piece of stained glass. One of the finest theater organizations Atlanta has ever seen, the Georgia Shakespeare, folded in 2014.   The theater business is tough.  Not something a small city or CVB needs to invest in.

As always, the goal of the CVB is to sell rooms. The question then becomes, would the theartre help the CVB sell more hotel rooms in Dunwoody? Without proper research, I certainly cannot answer that question. 

DT:  I'll help you with that question.  No, a theater in Brook Run will not result in a single hotel room booking - ever.

Perhaps the venue will not attract outsiders to our hotels for plays but perhaps the venue can be used as convention space which would then greatly impact our hotels. Is that a possibility….maybe.

DT: Finally, something that is worthy of discussion.  Yes, convention space is #1 to filling your rooms.  We agree.  But a room to hold 20 or 30 people is not your answer.  Those folks over at Spruill sold out to Big Biz, too bad.  That site was perfect for a convention center.  I suggest the CVB staff go to the GWCC web site calendar for a couple hours a day. Not even Mr. Walt Disney himself could make today's Dunwoody a weekend getaway.  Move on.  The CVB needs to find out what's going on around metro Atlanta, then solicit those groups.  MARTA goes to the GWCC so focus all efforts in that direction.  On the GWCC web site there is a link for convention attendees.  it says: "Where to Stay".  It points to Dunwoody is NOT listed.  Send them the $5,000 and get listed there. 

 A research study would help us in answering this question. 

DT: Your researcher will tell you what you want to hear, nothing less.  Especially when you hand pick the 'researcher'.  

And finally, while we have committed to this financial participation, no payments have yet been made as we are awaiting clarification on a few items.

DT: Thanks for visiting DunwoodyTalk, a Top 10 Dunwoody blog.


Peter J Dunn said...

Once again, your posting is not accurate. If you want to quote numbers, quote correct numbers. Dunwoody hotels hit revenues of over $50M in 2014. In my response to an anonymous posting, I stated the facts relative to the amount of tax dollars collected by Dunwoody hotels which exceeded $2M in 2014, not $800K minus to the portion to fund the CVB. Read the rest of the facts in my response to the anonymous writer on your blog. Contrary to what you state, the CVB’s role in promoting and selling weekend group business has benefited the hotel community greatly, directly or indirectly by creating compression in the market. If you need to understand what that means, I will gladly explain.

As far as the fictitious names and quotes, that is exactly what they were. You googled quotes from CVB personnel that were from a different time and subject matter, hardly factual to the subject at hand. Regarding my responses, please do not feel the need to hide my name and position. I am proud of the work I do in the community as a hotel General Manager, a member of the Board of Directors for the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce, Dunwoody CVB, PCIDs and the Georgia Hotel and Lodging Association. All in all, I believe I am likely more qualified to speak about tourism, conventions and meetings business than you, no offense intended.

Finally, why would the Dunwoody CVB be listed in the GWCC? That is a hotel’s responsibility. If someone is coming to a convention downtown, why would a convention bureau 20 miles away want to be listed? At that point, the conference is already sold and rooms have already been contracted. How would it benefit an outside CVB to solicit a conference already booked downtown, makes no sense. The target market of the CVB’s sales and marketing efforts is vastly different than that of the Atlanta CVB. I can assure you that the only reason a conventioneer would stay in the Perimeter area whose event is taking place downtown would be because downtown, midtown and Buckhead would all be sold out. Unfortunately, this is a rare occasion.

As I stated in my first response to you, we have not yet issued any payment towards the research study. We are waiting for clarification on the RFP process to conduct this study. Until we receive the necessary clarification, no funds will be issued.

Peter J. Dunn
General Manager
Le Meridien Atlanta Perimeter

DunwoodyTalk said...

Mr. Dunn,

I was accurate in the post. You claim $2 million in CVB taxes confiscated. I had it at $1.8 million. I said the city got $800,000 and the CVB got $1 million or so. So yes, I was accurate.

If you say the CVB is putting heads in beds on weekends, I'll have to take your word for it. I just checked and rooms are available this weekend for under $100 in Dunwoody. During the week rooms are $200, if available, and that's to be expected for business hotels.

I didn't use Google to find quotes. The quotes were totally fabricated, as 95% of the other quotes on this blog. And 95% of the names are fake names.

I promise that $5000 spent on the abandoned building is a waste of money, but $5,000 spent chasing convention folks is worth a try. The CVB is always saying how close we are a "central location, close proximity to Atlanta". I admit, the GWCC is a haul, but often times the closer hotels are out of budget or the folks can't get a block. I've attended 100+ conventions the past decade so it's not foreign to me. I'm sure the staff has time to solicit, or at least do some banner ads, targeting GWCC attendees.

I'm glad you haven't paid the $5,000. You can make better use of those funds. Stop by the arts festival this weekend and I'll buy you a can of semi-cold beer from a street vendor and a wind chime.

I've met friends for drinks at Longitude 84, nice setting. Have a nice weekend.

GaryRayBetz said...

A well written and elucidated discourse, Mr Dunwoody Talk! Once again you are quite the local hero of heuristics - not afraid to push the envelope, are you? But if you would allow me take it from here and submit that we push a manila hemp envelope; yes, once again let me suggest we blaze THAT trail!

What I am proposing for the nth time will accomplish the end that you and the good gentleman are both trying to accomplish, without the hostile hostel tenor (though perhaps not much of a brannigan it would be, as I suspect one falsetto and the other baritone), and that is to put heads in commercial Dunwoody beds, literally as well as figuratively.

Once again, I suggest that the city pass an ordinance to legalize marijuana. Yes! Let's be bold! Imagine a Dunwoody dotted with quaint hashish cafes! And in addition to the direct tax revenue the city would gain, the collateral emolument for the non-drug related Dunwoody small businesses would be truly enormous.

Let's free the city both economically and spiritually, and be the state's only cannabis friendly zone! We already have some of the Southeast's finest minds in horticulture (or at least their blogs purport so) and we have that fertile garden area at Brook Run Park. Another latent virtue - if tilled as herb and weed gardens, don't you think our rambunctious teens would be less likely to vandalize that area? And we adults would no longer have to bicker in blogs, but meet like men and hash things out.

So, yes, let's sever our shackles of rote rationalization, throw off our mindless automaton mantles, and attempt something truly unique!

“Make the most you can of the Indian hemp seed and sow it everywhere.” - George Washington, yes the Father of Country said that, not Timothy Leary.

Pattie Baker said...

Gary--I've been wondering about growing cannabis, but how about we start with hops? Wanna' adjoin me on a pilot project? I'd also love to get our beer-making residue composting initiative going again as well . . . Increases crop yields 20-30%

GaryRayBetz said...

Gee Ms Pattie, I'm absolutely gobsmacked that someone has earnestly acknowledged a "disquisition" of mine!

I'm so used to commenting or writing Letters-to-the-Editor and having readers dismiss it as merely another incoherent diatribe of the village idiot, where with as genteel as you all are purported to be here in the South, I had expected the harshest critique to be something as benign as "Ah, there he goes again with his idiosyncratic lyrical whimsy!"

Now as you've been so kind to rejoin, let me reciprocate with a thoughtful answer - My pot growing days have been largely subdued for the past 36 years when John Wayne Gacy made Chicagoland crawlspaces the most fearsome and loathsome living quarters in the home. So I chucked out my grow-lights and was forced to pay retail.

However, I do recall, as you could probably guess, that cannabis thrived in rich organic soil, which I would supplement, and experiment, with quite a number of disparate ingredients (i.e. soy bean meal, alfalfa meal, earth worm casings, pumice, coca fiber, peat moss, oyster shell flour, and of course - compost).

Now to your specific question regarding hops, from what I under from speaking with beer dilettantes through the years, which I am not one - I drink Guinness Stout ONLY, and no microbrewery will ever come close to replicating that nectar of Eire, is that although the Pacific Northwest has the most optimum conditions for growing hops, you can grow them in the Southeast and that the Cascade hops do the best down here. They just require a rich black loam with plenty of space and good drainage, and once you see that you can succeed in this venture, you'd probably want to invest in trellises. Had a few beers when I tagged along with a friend who visited his pal out in North Carolina, and he had about a half acre of trellised aromatic hops that we wandered through with his home-brew in hand. Yes, a good day it was.

Well, that's all I know on this subject, so you can see with such a limited expertise as well as the fact that I normally thrive best on the fringes of society, I really doubt that I could co-pilot a community project of the gardening variety, but do know I find you a most brilliant and charming young lady, and I thank-you much for your inquiry.


Gary Ray Betz