By Gerhard Schneibel

Sandy Springs Youth Sports (SSYS) was set to begin its spring baseball season this past week, and the first construction on a planned overhaul of the Morgan Falls Athletic Ball Fields also is expected to begin this month.

An upgrade to the lighting system is complete. Lavonia-based Southeast Electrical Contractors got a $299,000 contract for the project last May.

Dan Traurig, the vice president of strategic planning for SSYS, said the replaced lighting was “very, very old.”

“You’d have shadows on the field, and it didn’t really illuminate the entire field,” he said. “These new lights are truly state of the art and will really enable us to provide a best-in-class experience for the games during the evening.”

Traurig said the organization’s “first priority is to conduct this baseball season without any interruption to our schedule.”

“We have had many meetings with the city of Sandy Springs and are working out all of the details for what’s going to happen on each field and in each area of the park,” he said.

SSYS will play on the fields until May, then will continue to practice for the Dizzy Dean World Series tournaments, to be held in Jefferson, Ga., and Southhaven, Miss., in July.

Sandy Springs awarded the $4 million renovation project to Norcross-based Georgia JJ&G Engineering in January. The city has $3 million in the current budget and will appropriate the rest in the year starting July 1.

Ronnie Young, Sandy Springs’ director of recreation and parks, said the construction will begin with two new baseball fields on the east and west sides of the football stadium. After that, the stadium will be demolished, along with the concession stand, the press box, the locker rooms and the bathrooms.

Work on the existing baseball and softball area will wait until July, he said.

Traurig said SSYS plans to expand its programs after the renovation.

“We feel right now that we have a terrific park. But with investment and the support — the very generous support from the city of Sandy Springs — we’re going to be able to expand our park and create a truly best-in-class playing environment,” he said.

“We want to have a park that people will come to not only to watch baseball, softball and football, but also to socialize with other families,” Traurig said. Those are “things that bring the Sandy Springs community together.”