With construction tentatively set to begin on Sandy Springs’ Marsh Creek Watershed Improvement Project early next year, the city hopes that residents will see it as a facility that treats stormwater, reduces storm flooding and adds to green space.
“One of the largest reasons we’re pursuing this project is to improve flood control, said project manager Sharon Izzo at a recent open house for the project. “For the large storms we get once every blue moon we’re looking at a 50 percent reduction in storm flow by the implementation of this stormwater facility. For the everyday kind of summer storms we get that are rather significant, we’re looking for almost a 90 percent decrease in stormwater flow which is going to be a very big improvement.”
But resident Patti Berkovitz, who serves on the Watershed Alliance of Sandy Springs, has maintained that the organization has concerns about the site. She says that water should be retained on the site they are generated from, and that this project is serving as a detention pond to benefit city center developers.
“What that means is that us taxpayers here are buying that hole in the ground so that that the developers who are developing in the new city center site don’t have to spend the money on stormwater management,” she said at the open house. “We are going to pay for it, and we get to pay for ongoing maintenance.”
Stephen Johnston, whose property on Johnson Ferry Road the city plans to take in part for the site, says he didn’t see any new information at the open house, but he did see his property on a planning map. He recently told Reporter Newspapers that he doesn’t want the city to enact eminent domain to take over most of the land his business sits on.
“The bottom line is I don’t want the thing here at all,” Johnston said. But the city council on June 3 voted to approve the use of eminent domain to take the land if negotiations fail.
But longterm, Izzo says the project will benefit the community.
“In addition to providing a stormwater management facility we’re actually going to be including some park space and some natural setting here in the heart of Sandy Springs to allow visitors to enjoy a park,” she said.
Izzo cited resident concerns about the type of park the site might become. “We’ve heard a number of things as we’ve gone out into the community, and first and foremost we’ve heard that they wanted a passive park as opposed to an active park.” She said that while the site will not contain playgrounds and restroom facilities, it will include walking trails and educational signage.
The signage is part of an educational requirement set by the Georgia Environment Protection Division, which awarded the city a $387,747 grant from a pool of some 30 applicants for the $3.5 million project.