The City of Dunwoody & DeKalb County School Board are talking about rebuilding Austin Elementary in Dunwoody Park where there are now two baseball fields.
Nothing is approved yet, but the plan is to move the two ballfields to Peachtree Charter Middle School (PCMS). The cost of moving the two fields is estimated by the School Board to be $3 million.
As part of the plan, once Austin is relocated, its current site will become a park owned by the City of Dunwoody. Cost to renovate that site is unknown.
The plan is barely adequate as to the fields themselves but there are logistical issues that would cause DSB to curtail the youth baseball programs operated now at Dunwoody Park.
Austin Elementary needs to be rebuilt and the E-SPLOST funds exist to do so. The City of Dunwoody needs quality public education to enhance the future. No one argues with the need to improve Austin Elementary.
This plan removes two fields from PCMS availablity. This is contrary to the 2011 Dunwoody Parks Plan that called for renovating these fields for use by PCMS and for them to be shared by youth sports organizations.
Dunwoody Park fields are an idyllic setting for youth baseball. The city has spent significant resources renovating the fields. Visitors to the park love these fields. Our kids love these fields. Our families love the fields.
Per State Senator Fran Millar there was an arrangement in place with the prior superintendent to rebuild Austin in place. It is unclear why this agreement has been abandoned.
Dunwoody Park has a single point of entry and exit. It is far easier to ensure the safety of children at Dunwoody Park as compared to the new location.
Brook Run events, such as Lemonade Days, would create parking and traffic problems that would restrict baseball programming, especially on busy weekends.
The baseball programs at Dunwoody Park start as early as 4:00 pm during the week which would conflict with the 3:55 pm to 4:35 pm carpool window at PCMS. Parking lots are full and access is congested. It would not be possible to park for a game or practice.
Dunwoody Park offers a reasonable buffer from the adjacent neighborhood. The neighbors support keeping the fields at the park.
This will mean the permanent surrender of 30% of Dunwoody Park’s 30+ acres. The City has very little real green space as it is. Even if there is a 1:1 swap for acreage, the size of Dunwoody Park would be diminished forever.
There are issues with the new site. It is 16% smaller, parking is less convenient, the fields are known to have poor drainage. There are no trees to the west, so the setting sun will detract from play and be a potential safety issue.
The merchants of Dunwoody Village will suffer a noticeable loss of business. Weekend crowds at Dunwoody Park can run as high as 300 at a time, 700 over a weekend. They find their way to the Village
The City would gain control of the Austin site as part of a land swap. The cost to renovate the site is unknown. In addition, it will be more intrusive on the surrounding neighborhood.