The Sandy Springs City Council delayed a vote to choose a contractor to design plans for the ‘high-hazard’ Lake Forrest Dam repair at a Sept. 17 meeting after some neighbors said they were not fully briefed on the plan.
“We decided to back off and wait to speak to more residents,” City Councilmember Tibby DeJulio said.
The state Safe Dams Program has ordered repairs because of the dam’s condition and its placement on a list of “high-hazard” dams, meaning that if it failed in a worst-case scenario, the flood would likely kill people downstream.
The repair has been a slow process because of complex co-ownership among Atlanta and Sandy Springs governments, as well as several private residents from Three Lakes Corporation, a homeowners association that uses the pond behind the dam.
The council was to vote on a design contract that would create concrete box culverts, which would construct tunnels to carry the stream under Lake Forrest Drive.
Karen Meizen-McEnerny, a former Sandy Springs City Councilmember who lives near the dam, called on the council to defer, saying she feels she and her neighbors have not been given the same privilege as others to be briefed on the design alternatives.
She referenced a page about the dam repair on the city’s website, which she also pointed out has not been updated since September 2017. The last update provided on the page said “design alternatives were presented to representatives of other dam owners. A meeting to present the alternatives to all dam owners will be scheduled.”
“The neighbors on the east side of Lake Forrest and east side of the creek that the spillway will be filling into are directly impacted,” Meizen-McEnerny said. “Yet we have not been accorded the same opportunity to be briefed as…other owners were.”
The city has kept dam owners informed as part of the process with the Georgia Environmental Department of Protection, city spokesperson Sharon Kraun says.
Following Meizen-McEnerny’s comments, District 5 Councilmember Tibby DeJulio motioned to remove the item. District 6 Andy Bauman seconded the motion and it passed unanimously with no discussion.
DeJulio said the decision was not directly tied to Meizen-McEnerny’s expressed concern, but he has heard from several residents that feel they need to be more involved in the decision-making process.
DeJulio says the council needs more time to discuss the contract design with these residents, as well as other private dam owners, before a decision is made.
Correction: The Reporter misidentified Meizen-McEnerny as an owner of the dam in the original version.