Over the past four years the city council has engaged in a community-driven planning process that has resulted in a vision and a plan for the redevelopment of Dunwoody Village into a vibrant downtown center of retail and restaurant activity.
The plans include a large green space; a better organized street grid and the feel of a traditional downtown. The city has planned for, designed and funded a significant first step to implementing the Dunwoody Village Master Plan. This first step is reconstructing Dunwoody Village Parkway into the centerpiece of the Village as a Main Street. An interesting problem all the new cities have is identifying where their downtown should go. We in Dunwoody are fortunate to have what most people would consider a downtown in the Village.
The Main Street project is a 0.4 of a mile refurbishment of Dunwoody Village Parkway into a traditional main street with wide sidewalks, street trees, lighting and benches and encouragement for substantial long term private sector investment by bringing new buildings up to the street to complete the downtown feel of the area. An image of what the area will look like and more information on this project is available at www.dunwoodyga.gov.
For nearly 40 years Chamblee Dunwoody Road and Mt. Vernon Road were connected by a four-lane tree lined parkway. Dunwoody Village Parkway served its purpose as a convenient connection point between two main roads and as a service entrance to large 1970s/1980s shopping centers. The parkway was designed to move cars quickly and to separate high-speed traffic with a beautiful tree lined median. No thought or concern was provided for pedestrians. The parkway has served its purpose well over the past 40 years. It is time to start the work to sustain the village for another 40 years.
We have heard loudly but not clearly the objections to the Main Street project. We have heard rumors but not hard facts. We believe fervently that many have misconstrued this project as a fruitless effort to remove the tree-lined median to accommodate bicyclists and gobble up federal grant funds. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Here is the real story.
Some say that we need a four-lane road in Dunwoody Village and that cutting down the trees will deliver a lethal blow to the character of Dunwoody Village. The truth is that the four lane tree-lined median parkway no longer serves its purpose. Traffic counts don’t warrant four lanes of traffic; and a tree-lined median is built to divide high-speed traffic and avoid conflicts with pedestrians instead of calming traffic and encouraging pedestrian activity.
Some claim that the city is spending $2,400,000 of city funds on this project and that the city council is only moving forward on this project because the city found federal funding for a project.
The truth is that the city is funding 53 percent of the total cost; investing $1,275,000 of city funds. The remaining 47 percent of the funding comes from MARTA and the federal government (through the Georgia Department of Transportation). The city’s investment was placed in a capital account in 2011 and no further taxpayer funding in 2012, 2013 or beyond is being sought for this project.
As a fiscally conservative government with over $12 million in reserve accounts and the lowest municipal tax millage rate in the county, the rumors of wasting federal and local taxpayer funds are simply not true.
As to bicyclists dominating the discussion, the truth is that the median serves to speed up traffic, not calm it for a downtown street. The fact is that the median divides the new Main Street instead of bringing both sides of the roadway together into a cohesive downtown street. The city will make every effort to relocate the trees in the median and will replant new trees to replace any of the trees that are lost due to construction. Bicycle lanes are being installed as part of a citywide effort to build “complete streets”.
Some have complained that the Main Street project will back up traffic and that two lanes aren’t sufficient to carry the vehicle load. The truth is that traffic analysis indicates that the capacity of the parkway far exceeds current and projected traffic counts. One lane of traffic will provide adequate capacity for projected future traffic. In addition, turn lanes will be maintained at the ends of the parkway and at the main entrance to Dunwoody Village shopping center.
The city is spending the lion’s share of its resources on transportation infrastructure projects elsewhere in Dunwoody. Annual paving budgets nearly eclipsing $2,000,000 a year and millions of dollars funding intersection projects at Womack/Vermack and North Peachtree/Tilly Mill Road are just the beginning of investments into transportation initiatives. The heart of this debate is that the Main Street project is not a transportation project – it is a redevelopment project.
Mayor Bill Floyd of Decatur calls its downtown the overnight miracle that took 20 years to build. We believe that it is time for Dunwoody residents to come together and revitalize Dunwoody Village by investing the resources of the city to take the first and most critical step to building a downtown.
Agency Funding % of Total
Georgia DOT TE funding $850,000 35%
MARTA $275,000 12%
Required Match $ $170,000 7%
City of Dunwoody $1,105,000 46%
Total Project Cost $2,400,000 100%
Proposed cost of DVP as currently planned $1,275,000 53%
Cost of repaving only $550,000 23%
Marginal Cost to City $725,000 30%