ESPLOST IV (2012-2017) passed 5 years ago and included $18.5 million for an Austin elementary school replacement. Since then, there has been quite a lot of discussion around how big to make the new Austin ES and where to build it. As reported by Dunwoody Senior Baseball, the plan is to rebuild Austin Elementary at the site of the senior baseball fields and move Senior Baseball to some of the fields at Peachtree Charter Middle School.
Jerry Weiner, president of Dunwoody Senior Baseball, is asking people to consider the affect on Senior Baseball in Dunwoody. Mr. Weiner has created a website where people can get more information and voice their opposition to this plan, visit http://FriendsofDunwoodyParks.com.
Mr Weiner writes:
[There] is a proposal to rebuild Austin Elementary School on the existing ballfields at Dunwoody Park and move the ballfields to Peachtree Charter Middle School (PCMS). While nothing has been voted on or finalized, the proposal we received is as real as the surveyors and underground line-markers that we have seen at the Park. We believe the proposal is serious.We have responded to drawings and provided input as to why this would create significant operating difficulties for us. It would cause us to close or curtail certain programs we offer today. Even so, we recognize that this is not about the size of the fields, resulting traffic problems or access to parking. It is about youth sports beyond baseball, about how the City uses its existing park space and about the impact it would have on the merchants at Dunwoody Village.
We agree that Austin Elementary needs to be rebuilt, and the SPLOST money is there to do so. We all want the City to house the finest educational facilities that the School Board can provide. Nonetheless, we remember the School Board’s original commitment to rebuild on-site and not disturb Dunwoody Park. We now ask that they honor that promise.
If this becomes about the location of two ballfields versus a rebuilt school, no one wins. This has to be about what is in the long-term best interest of all residents of the City. From that perspective, this is about:
Youth sports. The City already has two very good ballfields and a 41-year tradition of 13- to 18-year olds from Dunwoody and surrounding communities playing baseball at Dunwoody Park. But where are the soccer and lacrosse fields? Where are the kids from PCMS going to play when the baseball fields are moved there? The School Board says the cost to move the baseball fields to PCMS would be $3 million, after which we will still have two ball fields. Why not spend that money (or less) on two multi-purpose fields at PCMS? That would give the school access to the fields during the day and address the unmet need for soccer and lacrosse facilities in the City.
Dunwoody Park. This proposal will require the permanent surrender of 30% of Dunwoody Park’s 30+ acres. Gone forever are the ballfields, any number of trees and the other green spaces that will be taken along the front of the Dunwoody Nature Center. The City has very little real green space as it. Even if there is a 1:1 swap for acreage, it is hard to see how the City could replace the quality of what it loses. The size of Dunwoody Park would be diminished forever by almost one-third. Why would we do that?
Dunwoody Village merchants. If the ballfields leave Dunwoody Park, the merchants of Dunwoody Village will suffer a noticeable loss of business. Our crowds run as high as 300 at a time, 700 over a weekend. Many of these players and their families regularly find their way to the Village restaurants and shops where they contribute to the overall economic well-being of the community. It is not uncommon to see ballplayers in uniform with their parents and siblings throughout Dunwoody Village both during the week and on the weekends.
Our board voted unanimously to oppose this proposal based on the detrimental impact it would have on our programs as well as the overall negative impact on our community. Instead, we ask City Council and the School Board to work together to find more effective ways to spend taxpayer money and still bring us both quality education and youth sports facilities that satisfy existing needs. We believe that a plan to rebuild Austin on-site as originally promised, maintain the ballfields at Dunwoody Park and build two multi-purpose fields at PCMS would do exactly that.
As Theodore Roosevelt, the father of our national parks, once said, “It is not what we have that will make us a great nation; it is the way in which we use it.”
Jerry Weiner, President
Dunwoody Senior Baseball
Serving 13- to 18-year olds since 1975
“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them.” — Frederick Douglass
“Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue.”