We enter 2021 with uncertainty but also many reasons to be hopeful.  The CO-19 vaccines are in the initial stages of distribution and new therapeutic treatments for Covid are being deployed.  For Dunwoody, 2020 was full of unexpected and unprecedented challenges, but I remain optimistic for the future of the City. 

While City Hall was temporarily closed, our team kept operations functioning as normally as possible.  Our Economic Development and Communications Departments created and implemented strategies and programs to support local businesses.  Public Works completed the 2020 paving plan early and hosted virtual engagement opportunities for future projects.  The Parks Department supported the residents of local long-term care facilities, produced virtual programming and completed the improvements at Brook Run.  Police and Code Enforcement stayed busy responding to calls. We have adopted best practices to safely reopen City Hall and Municipal Court.

The pandemic slowed the work we wanted to accomplish, but the City Council continued to make important progress as we move forward.  Public safety has remained a priority. The Dunwoody Village Master Plan was approved, the 2020 budget was adjusted, the 2021 budget adopted and public works and community developments projects continued uninterrupted.  Council adopted a master arts plan and soon will appoint the City’s first art commission.  Juggling a public health emergency, complex zoning decisions and regular city business was challenging, but I am so fortunate to serve with these outstanding leaders.

I am especially grateful to Dunwoody residents.  Throughout this entire pandemic, they have risen to the occasion by supporting one another, families in need and our local businesses.  Dunwoody residents raised thousands of dollars, donated tons of food, and provided valuable volunteer hours to local agencies that serve our most vulnerable residents.

We ended 2020 with another example of their generosity and graciousness.  When local families lost everything in a horrible fire, they donated tens of thousands dollars to help those families get back on their feet.

A few days before the public health emergency hit Georgia, the Council held our annual retreat.  We identified connectivity as our main priority.  We will continue to work on improving connectivity, whether it be infrastructure and pedestrian improvements or better internet connectivity.   Dunwoody residents are eager to safely walk or cycle throughout and beyond our community.  We know that the need for high speed, reliable internet connectivity goes beyond our Perimeter Business Center.  At the retreat, we also focused on connections between residents and how to strengthen our community.   These goals remain my priorities for 2021.

As the necessary restrictions related to Covid-19 are loosened in the new year, I look forward to seeing a full range of programming at Brook Run and our other parks. Now that the City has taken possession of the old Austin School property and demolished the building, we look forward to working with our residents to develop a plan for the future use of the property. By the end of 2021, we will open the tennis courts and a pavilion at Waterford Park.

We welcomed several new businesses in 2020, and economic development never stopped.  Dunwoody residents made supporting local businesses a priority.  The City Council has allocated millions of dollars of CARES Act funding to do the same. As we work towards recovery, we will implement strong economic development policies. We are ready to welcome existing businesses back to the Perimeter and to encourage new ones to join us here.

All our goals, objectives and priorities for 2021 and beyond will be impacted by an economic reality which we can’t quite predict at this point.  We cut our revenue estimates by about 20% and were able to tap into reserves to soften some of the projected losses and continue current service delivery. Moving forward, if we experience significant drops in revenue, Council will need to make more adjustments.

The beginning of 2021 isn’t likely to seem that different from 2020.  Many of the same challenges will remain.   I believe, though, that we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.   No one could have imagined what 2020 had in store for us. I am still optimistic about Dunwoody’s future and excited for the opportunities ahead.  I look forward to working together towards recovery. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.

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