Dunwoody’s $7.8 million construction project to add athletic fields, a large pavilion, an amphitheater and other new amenities to Brook Run Park is on track to be finished by a March deadline despite delays caused by heavy rains and other unforeseen conditions, according to the project manager.
But questions about where the popular Lemonade Days festival would be located in the park to ensure grass planted on the new great lawn area is not trampled by thousands of attendees have some asking whether postponing the March 21 deadline is the path to take. Concerns about silt fencing and protecting the park’s stream from pollutants were also asked of the project manager at the Jan. 27 City Council meeting.
“I am concerned we are going to force an opening when we are not ready,” Mayor Lynn Deutsch told Eric Johnson, president of Comprehensive Program Services, at the meeting. CPS is the project manager for Brook Run Park’s master plan.
“We spent nearly $8 million so this has to be perfect,” she said. “There is no other way this is acceptable.”
Plans are to complete planting Bermuda grass for the great lawn by Feb. 3, Johnson told the council. Lemonade Days is scheduled April 22-26. Lemonade Days is sponsored by the Dunwoody Preservation Trust as their largest fundraiser.
Parks and Recreation Director Brent Walker said discussions are happening that include moving Lemonade Days to the front of the park and away from the construction site. That is a costly alternative, however, because there are no electricity hookups at the front of the park and would require bringing in extra generators to power carnival rides and food vendors, he said.
“We are also looking at staging rides and walking areas on parking lots … we are looking at all of these potential sites to keep people off the lawn,” Walker said. The new amphitheater would be available for music acts at Lemonade Days, he said.
Heavy rains have contributed to the construction being slowed. Crews also discovered slabs of concrete they did not know were there when digging up the ground for the sports fields that also delayed progress. But Johnson said the project would be substantially finished by March 2 in time for a planned March 21 grand opening ceremony.
That timeline appears to be rushing the project, Deutsch said.
“It’s not too late to change the grand opening,” she said. “I would rather delay the opening than find ourselves in a big mess … because we rushed for Lemonade Days. It’s important to not destroy that work.”
Questions were also raised about Reeves Young, contractor for the project, failing to maintain its silt fencing around construction of the athletic fields. The fences are required to ensure silt and other debris do not run off a construction site and pollute nearby streams.
Resident Rob Weir, who regularly walks the park to observe construction, told the council during public comment that mud and silt from the construction site regularly fills the stream in the park during heavy rains. The mud and silt are pollutants and harm wildlife and cause erosion.
Johnson, of CPS, said there has been a considerable amount of rain over the past few months, but the silt fences are in compliance, according to county and state environmental inspectors as well as third-party inspectors hired by Reeves Young.
“There is no silt in the water,” Johnson said. “We have not gotten a report there is silt in the streams.”
Deutsch, however, said she is concerned about the silt fences regularly failing even if no silt is reported in the streams.
“We’re paying for inspectors and project management … and maybe the failures didn’t result in violations, but they are still failures,” she said.
The City Council last year approved a controversial stream buffer variance to encroach into the city’s 75-foot stream buffer to build the sports fields and a picnic and parking area.