DUNWOODY, Ga. — The Dunwoody City Council voted 6-1 at its Oct. 25 meeting to allow Smyrna-based over-35 adult baseball league to share space at Dunwoody Senior Baseball fields.
Councilman John Heneghan, who cast the lone dissent, appealed to his fellow council members that allowing the Metro Atlanta Baseball League to use the fields equated to “selling out our valuable field space to outsiders with no ties to our community.”
“If we contract with Atlanta Metro Baseball, whom I believe has no direct relationship with our residents, we will not only be hurting Dunwoody Senior Baseball participants, but we will be tying up the field space so that other local organizations and high school sports teams will not have the opportunity to use the fields as much as desired,” Heneghan said. “Metro Atlanta Baseball is based in Smyrna and is comprised of patrons from the entire Atlanta Metro area traveling and playing on various fields where they can get the best deal, whereas Dunwoody Senior Baseball is comprised of local Dunwoody residents (as well as Brookhaven, Chamblee and Doraville) playing close to home.”
Following Heneghan’s statement, the council passed the item without further discussion. A representative from MABL was present at the meeting but did not speak.
Under terms of the agreement, the Metro Atlanta league will pay the city the same hourly rate for use of the fields that is charged Dunwoody Senior Baseball — $20 an hour.
Dunwoody Senior Baseball officials opposed the agreement, saying they have plans to create an over-35 league at the fields, which are located on North Peachtree Road.
“We are concerned about the future of our league,” said DSB President Jay Kapp, who stepped into the volunteer position in January. “We are in a period of growth where we have a record number of participants. Our fear is that this move will impede our ability to continue to grow our program.”
Kapp said he was surprised by the move to add a competing league at the fields.
“More than 90 percent of our practices and games are held at these fields,” he said. “We have no other viable permanent alternatives for our program.”
In an interview with the Crier prior to the vote, Dunwoody Parks and Recreation Director Brent Walker said that the MABL option was “a good fit” for both the city and its residents.
“We are always looking to expand our base of (athletic) offerings in the Dunwoody area, and this was a good fit with those goals,” Walker said. “However, we are aware that this is Dunwoody Senior Baseball’s home field, and we will sit down with both organizations and find out the gaps that can be filled with MABL in order to get them in the mix.”
Walker said the time allotted to the Metro Atlanta organization will be “a small percentage” compared to the time given to Dunwoody Senior Baseball. He said Metro Atlanta Baseball League will not be given access to the concession stands, which are currently used primarily by the Dunwoody league.
“We value everything that Dunwoody Senior Baseball has done and continues to do for our city and our citizens, but we have a responsibility to offer diverse programs to people of all ages and interests, and this is a great opportunity to do that,” Walker said.
MABL, according to its website, is “is the premiere men's baseball league in Atlanta, offering different leagues throughout the year (spring & fall with options for midweek, Saturday or Sunday) for your baseball needs.”
In other action at the meeting, the council discussed revisions to the 2022 proposed budget that includes increases for road resurfacing projects, additions to the public area maintenance crew, and additions to staff within the parks department. A public hearing was held regarding the changes but there was no comment either in support or in opposition. The council passed the budget on second read.
The council also:
• Appointed Jackie Edmondson to a three-year term Planning Commission to replace Jared Abram, who is stepping down from the board;
• Commended two Dunwoody residents, Tyree Thorne and Kirk Malcolm, for their heroic actions on Sept. 12 following an apartment explosion at the Arrive Perimeter Apartments. Both men assisted with evacuating residents in the aftermath of the explosion, which was triggered by a suspected gas leak;
• Increased rental fees from $15 to $20 for recreational field rentals in order to cover the cost of maintaining the fields;
• Discussed a text amendment requiring door-to-door salespersons to obtain a solicitation permit.
The council retired to executive session to discuss a legal issue after the nearly three-hour meeting.