John F. Schaffner
I believe there are certain elements, when put in place, that can effectively work to turn a somewhat cold, government-oriented city into a healthy, vibrant, people-oriented community. Some of those elements seem to be fitting into place and working in Sandy Springs.
A couple of things that took place over the Labor Day weekend that got me thinking some about this direction for Sandy Springs.
First, but not in order of occurrence, my wife and I attended the last of this summer’s series of concerts at the Sandy Springs Society Entertainment Lawn at Heritage Green. That is quite a mouthful to say for such an intimate, but greatly improved venue for performances and other events.
We managed to make three of the concerts this summer and thoroughly enjoyed each of them. And, I might add, that we were pleasantly surprised at the size of the audience that turned our for each—even the Labor Day Georgia Brass Band concert which we thought might not have the draw due to the holiday.
It was watching people mingle with friends and even strangers—sitting at tables, on blankets on the grass or in lawn chairs—and enjoying good food, drink, companionship and, of course, good music, that brought my wife to lean over to me and comment: “This is such a perfect place and event for bringing a community together.”
Of course, she was correct.
That may have been the last concert of the season for the Entertainment Lawn; but coming up right around the corner, Sept. 15 and 16, is the Sandy Springs Festival, which began over two decades ago to call attention to the city’s historic site and its heritage.
The 22nd annual Sandy Springs Festival will encircle the city’s historic Heritage Green, home of the Williams-Payne House, with vendors along its bordering streets of Sandy Springs Circle, Hilderbrand Drive, Blue Stone Road and Sandy Springs Place.
Heritage Sandy Springs estimates 20,000 people will attend the festival over the two days. I don’t know if that many will show up or not. What I do know is it is another perfect event for bringing a community together.
And, it is interesting to note that these activities are taking place in an area of Sandy Springs that has begun to be known as “Town Center.”
On another slightly different note, I also had the opportunity over the holiday weekend to have a cup of coffee and chat with David Greenspan, the city councilman who has served District 1 in Sandy Springs for the past almost two years.
One of the items we talked about was parks in the city. We talked some about the major parks and park initiatives, but the most interesting aspect of the discussion concerned a program Greenspan shepherded to allow for the use of green space attached to Fulton County schools by the public when school is not in session.
Greenspan, who has resigned his city post to accept a job in Ohio, said these green spaces can become valuable pocket neighborhood parks, where families and individuals can get together for games or just to socialize. He said one such green space at Spalding Charter School already is being used extensively by surrounding neighborhood residents.
Of course the major parks planned by the city for land at Dalrymple and Brandon Mill roads and adjacent to the Morgan Falls Dam are important additions for the city. But the former city councilman points out that the Island Ford national recreation area on the Chattahoochee River off Roberts Drive is a rare and wonderful resource that is barely used at all.
Greenspan suggested that the small green spaces attached to county school properties may well become the major park gathering spots for residents.
What is apparent is that forces in the city of Sandy Springs—government and others—are working on developing good resources for “bringing a community together.”