By John Schaffner
johnschaffner@reporternewspapers.net

The Chattahoochee River has often been referred to locally as “the river of life,” largely because it is the source of water and power for communities.

That “river of life” could well take on a new meaning in Sandy Springs this month with two events:

  • The opening of the city’s Morgan Falls Overlook Park, almost 30 acres of picturesque recreational opportunities on the bluffs along the banks of the Chattahoochee just upstream from Morgan Falls Dam.
  • The third annual Summer Splash, a three-hour leisurely downriver float of families and friends that is a calmer rejuvenation of a more raucous event of years past.

The grand opening of Overlook Park will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. July 28.

Summer Splash is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 31.

Now that the controversy over whether to preserve a historical chimney is long over and it has appropriately become a focal point of the new park, it is time to let the public get some enjoyment out of the city’s newest recreational area.

The most difficult part may be getting to the park, which is on Morgan Falls Road. Nothing has been done to repair all of the cavities and wear created by time, construction of utilities for the park and construction vehicles.

The best advice is to drive with caution, caution and caution and be prepared to dodge lots of holes.

But if you can navigate the road to the park, it is well worth a visit. There is a large picnic pavilion featuring a fireplace, multiple grills and a horseshoe pit. The playground areas have shaded seating for parents.

The river overlook and open lawn have shade arbors with porch swings looking down on the Chattahoochee. Below, on the shoreline, is a small dock for launching kayaks and canoes.

The entry to the park has a plaza, restroom facilities and 95 parking spaces, but only a single in/out entry roadway. If the parking lot is full, parking along the narrow Morgan Falls Road is not recommended.

The park is a much anticipated and appreciated addition to the city’s recreational facilities, along with others in the same general area.

Farther down the road at the river’s edge below the dam is the city’s present off-leash dog park, modest as it may be.

Along the route from Roswell Road to the park on Morgan Falls Road stand the city’s major ball fields and the Steel Canyon Golf Course, which incidentally was built atop a former Fulton County landfill.

A major gas pipeline traverses the area underground, and transmission power lines cross above. But what is there to worry about? It is a place to kick back and have fun.

Splish-splash, what a bash

Speaking of the landing on the river below Morgan Falls Dam, that is the push-off point for the third annual Summer Splash on July 31.

Those who have been around Atlanta for many years may recall the rowdy, alcohol-laced river rafting epics of many years past. They were disbanded for safety reasons.

This summer event is a much different affair — a leisurely float on rafts and in kayaks and canoes, going with the flow of the Hooch from the dam to Powers Island and Landing. It is a great event.

Most people forget that Sandy Springs has a long shoreline along the Chattahoochee from Holcomb Bridge Road on the east and past Roswell and East Cobb on the north and south of the I-285 bridge over the river.

We can truly call the Chattahoochee our “river of life” and now have more opportunities to enjoy it. I don’t recommend the swimming, however.

Surprising tag office

Maybe I have just not been paying attention. But I would bet others like me didn’t know that auto tags can be purchased and renewed at the Benson Senior Center, 6500 Vernon Woods Drive in Sandy Springs, on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 3 p.m.

There is one hitch: You have to be 55 years old or older. That means I most certainly qualify. It is a nice perk.

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