Around Town: New Homeowners Association President Asks, What Is Dunwoody?


What is Dunwoody? It turns out that this is a trickier question than you might think.

“What is that now? ”Bob Fiscella reflected on a sunny morning recently as we were chatting at a table outside a cafe in Dunwoody village.“ When we became a town, a lot of people thought we were a true Mayberry. A lot of people still believe in it. . But as we change demographically, I think people want it to be a lot more dynamic. Especially young people. “

Bob Fiscella, the new president of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association. (Joe Earle)

Fiscella’s new work forces her to consider how these different points of view fit together, if they do. He is the new president of the Dunwoody Owners Association, the 51-year-old, 881-member group that advocates for the city’s landlords and claims to be “one of the most powerful associations of its kind in the United States.”

DHA’s board of directors takes a stand on zoning and development issues, and the organization sponsors special family-centric events such as the Dunwoody 4th of July Parade, which it claims to be the largest in Georgia.

When considering the current role of DHA, there is a lot of history to consider. Before Dunwoody became a city, DHA operated almost like an unofficial branch of government. Developers who wanted approval to build in Dunwoody or the surrounding area must have won favor with the group. DHA had weight because of the votes it could get.

And the owner group has a lot to do with the creation of the Town of Dunwoody itself, in part as a strategy to thwart the development of apartment complexes in the area. The city and the association were so closely linked from the start that the head of DHA was elected the city’s first mayor.

Now that the city has been around for a dozen years, things have of course changed. Explaining the current role of DHA, Fiscella simply said, “In a nutshell, our role is to improve the quality of life in Dunwoody and to keep real estate values ​​high. “

Fiscella, who is 61, arrived at her new post by a detour. He’s a great guy selling real estate in and around Dunwoody these days, but his background is in televised sports.

He grew up in Texas, studied broadcasting at the University of Texas, and spent approximately 17 years covering sports for CNN. After that he worked for another five years for Fox Sports. Along the way, he says in his online biography, he interviewed sports figures such as Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning and Arnold Palmer. “Broadcasting has always been my thing,” he said.

He ended up in Dunwoody after his marriage. At the time, he lived in Midtown and his wife lived in Roswell. “Dunwoody was the compromise,” he said.

Once he started a family, the irregular work hours required of a working sports reporter took their toll and he went out. He started selling real estate, he said. “Why I chose real estate, I don’t know,” he said. “I was like, ‘OK, there are a lot of nice houses in Dunwoody. It sounds easy. But it’s a lot harder than it looks.

After the city was established in 2008, Fiscella wanted to get more involved in her community. He therefore ran for municipal council several times, but never won a seat. He now says he’s just as happy as he didn’t. “Losing this race was a blessing in disguise because those early board members had to spend a lot of time doing it,” he said.

Going forward, Fiscella says he doesn’t foresee any major changes, although he would like to raise the profile of the group. He sees DHA’s job as continuing to monitor zoning and land use planning in the region. Sitting at the Dunwoody Village cafe, he pointed out that the way the shopping center that surrounded it had been developed was one of DHA’s major past victories, and that some proposals on how to revitalize the neighborhood might pit homeowners against the city ​​in the future.

But he also said the association must also monitor schools in the city. Dunwoody needs another high school, he said, because Dunwoody High “used to be a neighborhood school and now it’s a mega-school.”

“We need to become a little more open about DeKalb County schools. I think they are the biggest threat to maintaining the value of our properties in Dunwoody, ”he said. “How do we make our voice heard now with the schools in DeKalb County?” … I think we should. “

If Dunwoody had its own school system, as some community leaders have unsuccessfully proposed in the recent past, “the value of our properties would skyrocket because it would be the best school district in the state,” Fiscella said.

“I think it’s still a pie-shaped dream in the sky,” he said, “but we need to push DeKalb County schools where possible. I think we just need to do it. hear our voices Can we demand a change I don’t know But we have to at least try.

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