Public Helps to Redesign Brook Run Park
During a city meeting Saturday morning, Dunwoody residents gave input on the redevelopment of the city's largest park
A handful of Dunwoody residents gave Brook Run Park an overhaul Saturday.
They didn't make any physical changes to Brook Run, but at a morning meeting, attendees put pen to paper and came up with designs redeveloping Dunwoody's largest park.
The city held a charette-style meeting to gather ideas from residents and help to gel park redesign plans. What they came up with might not be the final product, but it gives the design firm hired by the city several key ideas with which to hammer out a plan.
The meeting was put on by Lose & Associates, Inc., a design company hired by the city to reassess the city parks system and help redesign Brook Run.
"It's helpful. It is much more engaging with the public. It also makes them feel like they've been heard," said Chris Camp, President of Lose & Associates. "From a designer's perspective we get a lot more out of the level for detailed discussion we had today than by just having a public meeting and saying, 'What do you want?'"
During the three-hour meeting, residents came up with dozens of features they want to see in the park.
A group of model plane enthusiasts advocated for dedicated land for their flying planes, while residents on the west side of the park asked for a buffer between their lots and the dog park.
Peter Yost, with Dunwoody Senior Baseball, proposed putting in baseball fields at Brook Run.
Right now, his teams play 500 games per year on two fields at Dunwoody Park.
Yost said he'd be happy just to have a few more parks in a centralized location.
"As long as it was just baseball fields, four would be great," he said.
Others just want more green space in the city's park system.
"I personally really enjoy more passive park opportunities," said Joy Vannerson, a 40-year-resident of Dunwoody and current president of Dunwoody Nature Center. "I think that's what we have so little of. "
Those who attended the meeting, which was held at St. Patrick's Episcopal Church, were split into two groups, both of which came up with park plans complete with a newly designed layout for Brook Run.
One factor in the redesign is that the parkland is required, by deed, to be at least 70 percent green space. Parks and Recreation Manager Brent Walker said green space doesn't mean it has to be all natural land; it can be manicured fields.
Designers aren't sure which of the 14 buildings on the former mental health institution property can be saved. Most are in very bad shape, although a couple buildings are salvageable.
The meeting started with a look at the 2003 DeKalb County master plan for the park, when the park had been envisioned as regional space. The county added a playground and a skate park, but then development stopped and Brook Run was eventually sold to Dunwoody.
"Really, Brook Run has been underdeveloped and kind of neglected," said Blake Tiede, 14, an eighth grader at Peachtree Charter Middle School. "I'm really looking forward to seeing it become a great park."
Tiede is on a resident committee for the city's parks. He's very interested in how Brook Run in particular will be developed and was happy with what he saw Saturday.
"I think they came up with really good plans," he said, speaking about the designs developed by two groups at the meeting. "I think that's the best way to do it because you get the public's input and you figure out what everybody wants, not just what the city thinks everybody wants."
Among the features residents spoke about adding were:
- a bandshell
- a community center
- athletic fields
- rest rooms
- multi-use trails
- a sculpture garden
- meditation garden/outdoor chapel
"There certainly were a lot of good ideas, a lot of creative ideas," said Joy Vannerson. "The hard part is going to come down to what's really affordable. Even with $7 million you are very limited."
The city is planning to sue DeKalb County for $7 million of nearly $12 million that was to be dedicated to Brook Run when voters approved a larger 2005 county-wide bond issue ($4.5 million of that was spent on the skate park and playground). That money, officials hope, would help pay for the redevelopment.
Whit Alexander, vice president of Lose & Associates, said the construction of the redesign of the park will come at a cost.
"Seven million is not the whole plan, for sure," he said. "But it is a 10 to 15 year build out."
Things like adding a community center (usually a $5 million price-tag) or an aquatic center (usually a $20 million price-tag) can increase costs quickly, he said.
"Moving land around, putting up fences and stuff is not a big deal," Alexander said. "When you start to put roofs and foundations in, that's where it starts to come in."
But the purpose of Saturday's meeting was to collect ideas from the public to put into the design.
Alexander and Camp will now work with the city on finalizing a design, which will be presented to the city council in February.