By Katie Fallon
While the city of Sandy Springs is still in its infancy, its recreational programs have stood the test of time through the community’s rule under Fulton County.
At the heart of the city’s park system is Morgan Falls Park. While other notable sites, including Hammond Park, offer a variety of recreational opportunities, Morgan Falls is home to the city’s youth baseball and softball leagues and is the city’s only facility for such activities.
Brad Chambers, the city’s director of recreation and parks, said the city is lucky to be able to offer the programs it is able to at the Morgan Falls ball fields.
“Baseball and softball are some of the most traditional of youth sports and Sandy Springs has a great partnership with the Sandy Springs Youth Sports Association,” Chambers said. “Most young cities have little, if any, recreation facilities already in place, so to have an existing complex that is mature and has a well-established program has immeasurable value.”
The park includes a series of nine athletic fields for baseball and softball players ages five to 18. In addition to regular season play, the park is often the site for various tournaments and camps. Most recently, the park hosted the 5th Annual Softball Invitation, which brought together all-star teams from SSYS and across the Atlanta area on June 9.
Fred Jewell, who co-directed this year’s tournament, said the park’s board has developed a strong relationship with the city over the past year and a half. Over the Memorial Day weekend, the park hosted the Wood Bat Classic, a baseball tournament that brought teams from all over the Southeast for a weekend of games.
“That kind of event brings business into the city that would otherwise go somewhere else,” Jewell said. “It takes a great deal of commitment on the part of our players, their coaches and park volunteers to make something like this happen.”
Morgan Falls Park, however, does not just field teams, it also fields champions.
Its 8-and-under fastpitch softball team won its age bracket in the Softball Invitational. In addition, the 11-year-old Red Raiders baseball team recently won the Dizzy Dean District 4 Tournament that was also held at Morgan Falls. The Red Raiders, who finished second in the regular season standings with a 21-5 record, went undefeated in the playoffs and triumphed in the tournament by winning two games of a thee-game series.
The park, though, is not perfect.
Chambers said everyone realizes that parking is limited and continues to be an issue. He said the city is investigating options to have more parking available if at all possible.
The city is also planning other enhancements for the park. A major capital improvement initiative has begun to improve the lighting at the ball fields.
“We are working with lighting contractors now to receive bids on upgrading the lighting system, replacing the old wooden poles, which in many instances are at the end of their lifespan, and improving the lighting levels for the fields,” Chambers said. “The city also intends to pave the entrance road to the park.”
Throughout Sandy Springs, Chambers said the city has no immediate plans to add more recreational opportunities like what is offered at Morgan Falls. He said the overall recreation and parks master plan recommends that the entire recreation program, including youth sports, team sports, adult athletics and other programs be added as the city grows.
“The city’s immediate emphasis is to begin to improve the existing parks’ infrastructure to ensure that the facilities are in good shape and are safe and pleasant for both participants and spectators,” Chambers said. “Having already existing facilities such as Morgan Falls is invaluable.”