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Dunwoody City Council looks into parks planning and infrastructure future

DUNWOODY, Ga. — The Dunwoody City Council continued to focus on park planning and funding at its April 25 meeting.

The council unanimously approved two committees, one to prioritize park projects and the other with how American Rescue Plan Act funding will be used.

“The Capital Prioritization Committee will review current lists of unfunded capital projects removing some redundancies, clarifying project scores and adding potential projects for upcoming discussions,” Assistant City Manager J. Jay Vinicki said.

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The list will start community discussions on the capital needs of the city, one-time expenses like roadway improvements or equipment purchases. Council members Catherine Lautenbacher, Joe Seconder and John Heneghan will sit on the committee.

Dunwoody City Council

Residents attend the April 25 Dunwoody City Council meeting that did not have socially distanced seating for the first time since the pandemic began. The council took up multiple items focusing on the city’s future.

The American Rescue Plan and Grants Committee will help develop and recommend a strategy on the allocation of current ARP funding. The committee will review the city’s grants strategy and suggest revisions if necessary.

At the April 11 meeting, the council approved creating a separate $10 million fund to use ARP money for future projects. Council member Tom Lambert, Rob Price and Stacey Harris will make up the committee.

Other discussion items focused on residential driveway composition and changes to the intersection of I–285 and Ashford Dunwoody Road.

Dunwoody ordinances do not address or restrict the use of gravel in residential driveways. A staff memo from the Planning and Zoning Department dated April 25 recommended adopting a text amendment disallowing gravel driveways or creating a standard of maintenance. The memo also said to allow ribbon driveways, grass-crete and stone paver systems.

Chamblee and Roswell permit gravel driveways, while Sandy Springs, Brookhaven, Alpharetta and Tucker do not. Chamblee has requirements for minimum depth and a durable border.

The consensus from the council discussion was to craft an ordinance banning the use of gravel in residential driveways. The city would have to take action to the driveway at Donaldson–Bannister Farm because it is zoned as a residence.

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The other discussion item covered the westside connector project at Ashford Dunwoody Road and I-285.

Public Works Director Michael Smith said the effectiveness of the diverging diamond interchange will diminish toward the end of this decade. The plan is meant to reduce congestion at the busy intersection that connects I-285 to Perimeter Mall and to Hammond Drive, the access to several major employers in the area.

While still in the discussion stage, the connector project plan includes a proposal to create an exit lane that would go over the Perimeter Expo shopping center and exit on to Perimeter Center East and Goldkist Drive. The plan initially included a ramp from Goldkist Drive connecting to I-285 East, but that was scrapped by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Significant discussion focused on one conceptual design that would widen the existing bridge on Ashford Dunwoody Road, adding one lane to each side. There would also be a parallel bridge for pedestrians and cyclists. The plan is expected to reduce vehicle delay by 22 percent in the morning and 11 percent in the afternoon peak hours.

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Smith said that GDOT indicated the bridge would need to be replaced given it was over 60 years old. The city would not have to pay for the replacement, but money invested in the widening may be lost if the bridge is replaced in the future. GDOT does not have any immediate plans to replace the bridge, which carries an estimated cost of $40 million.

The Westside Connector Project Team is evaluating at least 10 concept ideas for this long-range infrastructure plan.