A More Beautiful Midway Woods

One way our neighborhood can continue to improve is to encourage consistent enforcement of County Code when it comes to the storage of junk, abandoned cars, and tall grass. If you’re concerned about these issues, please reach out to the County or to me.

Below is a summary of the more common code violations:

– Grass and weeds must be maintained below 18 inches in height.

– Outside storage is prohibited. This includes such items as tires, appliances, auto parts, old furniture, trash, junk vehicles, and dead trees. All stored items must be kept in an area enclosed on all sides by walls and a roof.

– Junk vehicles (any vehicle which is inoperable or does not bear current tags) may not be park in residential zones.

– Parking of vehicles on unpaved, untreated surface (for example, on the grass) is prohibited.

Call the County Code Enforcement Office at (770) 724-7940, to report any code violations. They will ask you for your name, but you do not have to provide it, in order for your complaint to be processed.

Their address is: 1950 West Exchange Place (3rd Floor), Tucker, GA 30084

Leave a message, but BE BRIEF. Give the address (speak clearly and slowly) and your complaint. Do not expect to be called back. Expect a month for any results…always follow up.

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County Park Director Predicts Disaster in Dearborn Park

Most folks are familiar with Dearborn Park’s upper section — the area with the pavilion, basketball court and playground. Most are less familiar with the two lower sections of Dearborn Park — areas that follow Shoal Creek to Oldfield.

This week I walked the lower area with Dave Butler to share with neighbors had done to make this area more accessible. Dave has been involved with our Park for over a decade. He was remembering early visionaries for the Park including Jeremy Rhett and Sarah Michelson who blazed some of the early trails and pushed for expansion into these lower sections.

However, he said we have a natural disaster on our hands. Hundreds of trees in the lower section of the park are covered with ivy. These are mature trees 40+ years old, some more than 100 years old. English Ivy will eventually kill these trees and leave this area with scrub trees, if any.

Young tree growth is also inhibited by the thick privet – an invasive species which dominates the undergrowth limiting native species from growing.

Dekalb County has 100 parks in its system. Dearborn Park is THE WORST in terms of invasive species status. If you stay on the couple of trails cleared out in the last few years, you won’t realize the pending disaster.

Make your way down to the end of the Decatur Trail where it joins up with Chevelle. Instead of walking up to Chevelle turn East towards the creek and you’ll find a newly blazed trail.

The trail meanders through dense privet and reveals a deposit of three large boulders far from the stream. You’ll arrive at the stream and see a path to scurry down the steep embankment and up the other side. To the North of this crossing is where we hope to add a bridge so the trail can be safely enjoyed by more people.

Privet remains thick until you climb out then the ivy dominates the undergrowth. Almost nothing new is able to grow in this area. The ivy dominates. Most alarming is the extent to which the ivy has covered the trees.

Another result of the thick privet is poor visibility which causes safety concerns. When I’ve asked people how they use the park, they stay in the open areas. The more rustic trails are too unsafe. Inadvertently, the neglect of the park has made it less of a resource for the community and for some it’s a liability in its current state.

Is Dearborn too big for the community to maintain? Do we deserve to add more park and garner more park resources without full support to care for what we have? I think we can do a lot more.

2015 needs to be the year that we aggressively clear the privet and ivy. The good news is we now have access to this area and can begin to restore it to a more natural state. Concurrently, we need to make it safe for nervous and less steady walkers.

Please visit this new trail and send me your pictures. What are your thoughts on how to recover the area?

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Disc Golf, Anyone?

We’re working on formalizing a Disc Golf course in Dearborn Park – one of very few ITP. If you’re interested, come to Columbia Presbyterian, 7:30PM, Dec 3rd to discuss or you can let me know here via reply.

Friends of Dearborn Park are pulling together a committee to design and implement the course and to find a way to fold it into the Park’s natural state.


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Dec 3 MWNA Meeting


You are invited and encouraged to participate in the Wednesday 3 December Midway Woods Neighborhood Association meeting at 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm at the Columbia Presbyterian Church.  The meeting will include a Dearborn Park update and a preview of MWNA plans for 2015.

Michael Hughes
President, Midway Woods Neighborhood Association

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Fall & Winter Clean Up

The following is from Kathie Gannon, DeKalb County Commissioner, Super District 6. The full announcement is attached.  11-17-14 Fall Winter Work Program

The Mowing and Herbicide group of Keep DeKalb Beautiful (KDB), along with the DeKalb County Roads and Drainage Department, announces its yearly Fall & Winter Work Program, to provide a number of additional maintenance services to DeKalb County residents. During the fall and winter seasons, when mowing requirements are minimal due to slower growth, DeKalb County performs additional maintenance county-wide, and solicits maintenance project suggestions from residents.

Projects for this program may include:
• Abandoned cemeteries;
• Curb bumping;
• Dead tree limb removal;
• Illegal dumping (tires, furniture, etc.);
• Litter pick up requests;
• Mowing requests;
• Tree trimming; and
• Other projects, subject to staffing and connection to KDB’s mission of beautification.

The Fall & Winter Work Program operates between October and March each year. DeKalb County residents are invited to use the online form to request the addition of projects for consideration.

Michael Hughes
President, Midway Woods Neighborhood Association

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Hooper Alexander site


The 8-acre Hooper Alexander site could become either a great asset or a horrible burden to our neighborhood.
My takeaway from what Joshua Williams (COO DeKalb Schools) and Michael Erwin (BOE) said at the Nov 5 MWNA meeting is that we can have considerable influence on what happens at the site PROVIDED we present a clear vision with broad community support.
If you are willing to put in the work to make sure we get the great asset and not the horrible burden, please contact me to give me your name, email, and phone number.
And please do so sooner rather than later.

Michael Hughes
President, Midway Woods Neighborhood Association

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Friends of Dearborn Park Discuss Park Vision

Dearborn Park has come a long way thanks to the involvement of the community, Park Pride, City of Decatur, and the County in recent years. Most of the goals set a few years back have been accomplished and new ideas for enhancing the park have been established.

Park improvements have been focused on enhancing the natural beauty of the Park while encouraging more people to enjoy the Park.

After nearly one year of discussion and vetting, a few ideas have surfaced as worthy of pursuit. These concepts have been discussed and evaluated for their benefits and challenges by community members and Friends of the Park meeting attendees.

In rough priority order, the major improvements are:
– Oldfield Path to connect to the existing park paths.
– Frisbee Golf course, one of the few inside of the perimeter.
– Park expansion to Memorial Drive and Candler.
– Dog Park somewhere, perhaps the expanded area near Memorial.
– New Pavilion located in a safer, wheel chair accessible area.

These ideas will be further discussed with Park Pride, County, and City officials so they can weigh in and help us plan for and make progress towards these goals.

Come to the next Midway Woods neighborhood meeting to hear more about these projects, the next steps, and how to get involved. You can always email me directly as well.

Rick Baggenstoss
Environmental and Friends of the Park Chair

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In a Nextdoor post, Mary Ellen McElhattan said Dr. Dontae Andrews (“Dr. D”),the new principal, “seems to be dynamic and very intent on working with the community to improve Avondale Elementary.” I wholeheartedly agree! And I encourage us all, whether we have school-age kids or not, to support Dr. Andrews in the ongoing work to improve AES. We all benefit from that improvement!

I will post information on how we can sign up for the PTA ($5), participate in the tutorial program, and other concrete ways we can help.

Dr. D invited me to be a community member of the AES School Council, & I considered it an honor & privilege to accept that invitation. So.., don’t be surprised if I post frequently about AES and how we can contribute.

Michael Hughes
President, Midway Woods Neighborhood Association

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Childcare at Wed 5 MWNA meeting


We will be providing childcare at tomorrow’s (Wed 5, 7:30 PM @ Columbia Presbyterian Church) MWNA meeting. This meeting will include presentations and Q&A sessions on Avondale ES, the Hooper Alexander site, and the DeKalb County School System.

Michael Hughes
President, Midway Woods Neighborhood Association

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Decatur annexation comments


I did not try to gather data on the comments at last night Decatur annexation meeting, but my IMPRESSION is as follows:
There were three groups, in approximately equal numbers.
1. Residents in or near the proposed areas of annexation supporting annexation or asking to be included.
2. Residents in the proposed areas of annexation opposing annexation.
3. Current Decatur residents opposing the proposed annexation.
The main objection of Decatur residents was the burden on and cost to the City school system.

Michael Hughes
President, Midway Woods Neighborhood Association
Block Captain, Midway Woods Neighborhood Watch
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