After nearly 10 years of discussion, a plan to repair the aging Lake Forrest Dam on the Atlanta-Sandy Springs border is ready, but is on hold due to one property owner holding out, according to a Sandy Springs spokesperson.
The state Safe Dams Program has ordered repairs of the 60-year-old earthen dam, which runs directly beneath the 4600 block of Lake Forrest Drive. But repairs have been slowed by complex ownership issues involve both city governments and the private Three Lakes Corporation, a homeowners association that uses the pond behind the dam.
The city of Sandy Springs has taken the planning lead and in 2017 showed alternative repair designs that would cost roughly $7 million and possibly close the entire road for 18 months. The Three Lakes Corporation early last year generally agreed to one design option, but dispute over who should pay for repairs continued.
“The cities of Atlanta and Sandy Springs, and all but one property owner, have committed to participating with all of the dam owners in carrying out a plan approved by the Safe Dams Division,” Sandy Springs spokesperson Sharon Kraun said in January. “We are waiting on Safe Dams to determine how it will bring the final dam owner to the table to participate in resolution of the problem.”
The state has the ability to take dam owners to court for lack of compliance with repair orders.
Tom Woosley, manager of the Safe Dams Program, said the cities and other parties met with his office late last year, with no specific resolution. “I cannot comment on potential enforcement actions,” he said.
The dam is on the state’s list of “high-hazard” dams, meaning that if it failed in a worst-case scenario, the flood would likely kill people downstream.
An emergency response plan filed by Sandy Springs last year showed that a dam failure could flood Chastain Park, Nancy Creek and local streets. One resident who lives downstream and asked not to be named said she is already concerned about water flow from the dam and does not want to wait for repairs.
“If they do not do something with that dam, or drain the lake, they are putting people’s lives’ in danger, bottom line,” the resident said.