Mayor, Sandy Springs
Overlook Park is on the way to becoming an outdoor recreation jewel in Sandy Springs. It is on Morgan Falls Road, near the end of the road before the Georgia Power dam and adjacent to the Chattahoochee River.
The creation of this park started with a site rampantly overgrown with bamboo and wisteria. These two invasive, non-native plants were threatening to overtake an unusual growth of rhododendrons and mountain laurels on the property, and they prevented any access to the banks of the river.
Obviously, development of the site would require getting rid of the invasive plant species. Just as the lovely parks along the bank of the river on Azalea Drive and Riverside Drive in Roswell years ago were overgrown jungles that had to be cleared, so this new site for the enjoyment of the river required some clearing.
The plan for doing this and for developing the site was discussed in a meeting in December that included representatives of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) and another in February with the Sandy Springs Conservancy, the Atlanta Regional Commission and the superintendent of the Chattahoochee River National Park Recreation Area. There were no objections against moving forward with the development of the site.
Mechanical equipment to do the work on the site was excluded from the area adjacent to the river, in order not to disturb the ground and cause silt and erosion into the river. The work along the river was done by hand, so the roots of the bamboo are still solidly holding the soil together, and there has been no erosion.
(As a gardener, I do wonder how we will prevent those roots from re-establishing the growth. It may take a heap of Roundup!)
This clearing has produced a site with a magnificent vista: The River, its banks and its shoals, as well as the river’s sluice, present an incomparable view and will become the favorite picnic spot in Sandy Springs in the years to come. It is certain to be a treasure for those who commune with nature.
In response to complaints by the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, EPD did issue a notice of violation March 4, or three months after the meeting in which it was a party to the discussions on plans for the site. This timing seems strange to me.
The planting of replacement native materials, as discussed with all the parties, will commence in the coming weeks. Eventually, a scenic trail will be included according to a design prepared with the Sandy Springs Conservancy, leading to the crest of the hill that overlooks both the sluice and the dam portions of the river.
With the leaves still down from this past winter, from my bedroom window I get a clear view of Overlook Park and the small dock at its point that will be used by Georgia Tech kayakers. I am pleased to see the development of an additional park in Sandy Springs that will serve generations to come.