By Gerhard Schneibel
gerhard@reporternewspapers.net

Sandy Springs has acquired 22 acres near the corner of Riverside Drive and Brandon Mill Road for use as a passive park and nature preserve, thanks to a number of agencies and Margaret “Peggy” Miles, who died shortly after selling the city the land at a much reduced price.

Miles was born on the property in the early 1900s and lived her entire life on it. Other than the foundation of an old well house, a small Craftsman-style bungalow is the only construction on what has been named the Lost Corner Preserve.

Miles’ father completed the bungalow in 1920, said Trisha Thompson, a friend and neighbor who helped bring about the land transfer.

Miles was unmarried and without children.

“Early in the 1990s she started thinking about what she wanted to leave behind,” Thompson said.

The city of Sandy Springs paid $416,000 to cover half the price of the preserve. The Georgia Land Conservation Program contributed a $250,000 grant, and the Trust for Public Land and the Sandy Springs Conservancy raised $167,334.

Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos said conserving the site will give the city a “recreation space with trails for walking, open space for relaxing, and natural areas where both children and adults can learn more about native Georgia.”

“All of the parties should be congratulated. We’re all pleased, and we look forward to passive development of this facility,” she said.

Helen Tapp, the Georgia state director of the Trust for Public Land, said she became aware of the property three years ago.

“All that was known at that point was that the owner of this land had a real love for this land and a sense of stewardship about making sure the right thing happened after she was gone,” she said. “Thanks to her generosity and the generosity of a lot of folks, now Ms. Miles’ dream has come true.”

Curt Soper, the director of land conservation with the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, said that preserving 22 undeveloped acres “in the heart of metro Atlanta to protect it for future generations is just what our program is all about.”

He said of Miles: “I did have the pleasure of meeting her one time and, I’ll tell you, I left with a pretty clear idea of what she wanted for this project. It always takes a local connection.”

Joey Mayson, the chairman of the Sandy Springs Conservancy board, said that while the Miles property is a rare find, a few similar pieces of land are located throughout Sandy Springs.

“Most people didn’t know about this one, and Ms. Miles kept a very low profile and lived alone,” he said. “I hope that what Ms. Miles did with the guidance of all of us in the community will (bring about) opportunities where there are other property owners who would like to have their properties preserved and have others enjoy it the way they did.”

Miles died in September, and the city officially took control of Lost Corner Preserve in October. Representatives of the city and organizations involved in the purchase toured the land Nov. 18, and the preserve should be ready for the public sometime in 2009.