By C. Julia Nelson
cjnelson@reporternewspaper.net

Although only about a dozen residents attended the city of Sandy Spring’s first open house on Feb. 11, those who did were offered a plethora of information relating to multiple public projects.

In an effort to enhance communications between the citizens of Sandy Springs and representatives on city staff and council, the city has embarked upon a monthly open house setting to achieve that goal.

Individual information stations at the open house included transportation, the Roswell Road streetscape project, renovations at Morgan Falls Park, the CERT program, police, fire and parks and recreation.

Sandy Springs residents Barbara Prebble and Linda Bain both expressed appreciation to the city for hosting the open houses, which will be a monthly reoccurrence.

“It’s been a great experience to talk to all these people at one time,” Bain said. “It’s like one-stop shopping.”

Pebble found the format very informative and convenient in terms of having contact with representatives who could address specific concerns directly.

“I’m very impressed,” Pebble said. “The displays are very good and there are plenty of people here to answer your questions.”

Transportation

Ron Adderly, a Sandy Springs field services manager, gave an overview of current paving projects for high-traffic areas throughout the city. To date, the city has repaved about 11.5 miles of roads. Another 22 miles of road have already been placed under contract to be repaved in 2008. Aderly said about $3.5 million will be spent on repaving roads this year.

Deputy Director of Transportation, Jon Disdale provided information about intersection improvement projects, naming a couple specific projects in the works for the near future.

“We’re studying the entire length of (Peachtree Dunwoody Road) for a feature (corridor project,” Disdale said. “We’ve got a widening project on Abernathy Road. It’s under construction right now. Sidewalks are coming along Mt. Vernon Parkway.”

Overall there are 17 projects on the radar to be completed in 2008 in Sandy Springs.

“We’re hoping to get all of these done within a $1 million limit,” he said.

wOne of the major improvement projects in the early stages is a renovated streetscape along Roswell Road between the south side of Johnson Ferry Road and the north side of Abernathy Road.

“We’re just starting the concept design actually,” Drisdale said. “

The city is consulting with Qk4, an engineering and architectural design firm with offices in Norcross, to design the schematic plan.

The construction of nine foot sidewalks, two foot brick pavers as well as landscaping and pedestrian lighting is an extension of a similar project along Roswell, north of Hammond Drive and south of Mt. Vernon as part of the overlay district on Roswell Road.

“We’re trying to get the design done over next few months and then we’ll go to another public information meeting, present to council and move the project forward,” Drisdale said.

Although the cost for this project has yet to be determined, the Georgia Department of Transportation has already kicked in about $100,000 through a transportation enhancement grant toward the improvements.

Morgan Falls Park

The city is in the beginning stages of a three-phase renovation at Morgan Falls Park. Phase one is the implementation of a dog park, according to Blake Dettwiler, the assistant director of land development for Sandy Springs.

Part two and three of the effort will encompass renovations of the athletic fields as well as general maintenance upgrades around the Chattahoochee River and adjacent dam.

“It’s all part of the overall master plan for Morgan Falls Park,” Dettwiler said. “It’s a fairly new plan; we’ve just started to pull information together over the last few months.

Dettwiler said the city is planning to do a master plan for all the parks in the city, but the intention for the Morgan Falls Park improvements is to tie the design into the Roswell Road overlay district schematic design.

“The streetlights, the pavers and the pedestrian sidewalks – we want to make sure these tie in to the overall look of the overlay district and the Roswell corridor as a whole,” Dettwiler said. We want there to be continuity in the design standard going back into all the parks as well.”

The city has contracted with Lose and Associates, an architectural and engineering from out of Lawrenceville, to design the master plan for the park.

Aaron St. Piere, a land planner for Lose and Associates, said they are working to get the park in compliance with ADA standards, enhancing the visual appeal of the park as well as considering the constraints of the land including environmental restrictions in creating the master plan.

“(The land) is very heavily regulated so we’re trying to figure out the best ways to provide the best park opportunities that the city’s looking for while trying to fit within those regulations,” St. Piere said.

Additionally, gaining an idea of what the community would like to see is also part of their process in creating the master plan.

“We’re looking for community input to see what the community would like to see there,” St. Piere said.

CERT

Another station featured handfuls of goodies courtesy of the Community Emergency Response Team as a reminder to citizens that the city offers a free course on emergency preparedness.

Kareem Fannin, a CERT program manager, explained that the city is committed to offering the 20-hour, 3-day training program to local businesses and organizations. The training is designed to equip every day people with basic knowledge about responding to emergencies before professionals are able to get to the scene.

“Right now we’re in the developmental stages,” Fannin said. “My goal is to put together a program where you bring back the people who have graduated from the program six months to a year ago and do a refresher course.”

Information about CERT is available online at www.sandyspringsga.org.

Crime – Police

Sandy Springs Police crime analyst Paul Heaton offered a review of crime statistics over the last year as well as a city-wide map showing recent crime patterns.

“We had 12 robberies in the month of January and 351 crimes including burglaries, larceny/thefts and motor vehicle thefts,” Heaton said. “Larcenies are the driving crime statistic we see.”

The statistics provided also offered information relative to crimes on persons, false alarms, traffic altercations and hit and runs.

Additionally, Heaton said the police department is developing a new web site with the intention to open it publicly within the next six months.

CPR/AED – Fire

Sandy Springs Fire Rescue’s logistics coordinator, Donald Willbanks, provided information on a CPR/Automatic External Defibrillator kit and training program offered by the department in conjunction with the American Heart Association.

Along with the hour and a half of hands-on training on CPR and using AEDs, those who are trained receive an informational packet, which should be used to educate others on the same training. The packet comes with an instructional video and a CPR dummy for practicing CPR techniques.

Now in the program’s second year, last year the department trained 1,126 and a goal has been set to train an addition 1,000 by the end of 2008. Willbanks said whether it’s those trained in Sandy Springs or otherwise, there has been a surge in rescues using these life-saving techniques.

“What we’re teaching is what they’re doing,” Willbanks said.

Although classes have not yet been scheduled, the department will set several dates to train the public on CPR.

Parks and Recreation

Marina Davidovich, manager of recreation and athletics for Sandy Springs, highlighted the programming available at Hammond Park, one of 12 parks within the city’s limits.

Among the children’s programs offered at Hammond are gymnastics, tennis, art, cheerleading, and tap. Track and field is also offered to the children at Sandy Springs Middle School. Every summer camps are open for art gymnastics, cheerleading, basketball and soccer.

Adult offerings include karate, tap, ballet, soccer, basketball, volleyball and fitness clinics.

“The new thing we have is capolira, which is a Brazilian art,” Davidovich said. “It’s a combination of dance, arts and gymnastics.”

One of the strongest programs at Hammond is gymnastics.

“We have 317 children involved in gymnastics,” Davidovich said. “It’s the biggest program and we are currently looking for (additional, qualified) instructors.”

The facilities at Hammond are also available for birthday parties upon reservation. Information about programming at Hammond is available online at www.sandyspringsga.org.

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