Heritage Sandy Springs would like to see a “Heritage Trail” incorporated into City Center plans.

Visitors to the future City Center may have the opportunity to learn about Sandy Springs history.

Board members of Heritage Sandy Springs recently presented to Sandy Springs City Council a request to build a heritage trail as part of the center.

“It fits right in with our vision and our mission,” Phil Beeson, president of the nonprofit group’s board, told members of the council. He said that mission is to build community through preserving and promoting the history of Sandy Springs, and that’s what a trail winding through the site would do.

He said the trail would circle the new site, which is also the historic location for businesses in the city.

“It’s an opportunity not only to educate residents of Sandy Springs, but to bring in new folks to understand what our city’s all about and the great history of Sandy Springs,” Beeson said.

“This isn’t a new concept,” he added. “A lot of great southern cities have done a heritage trail.”

Mayor Rusty Paul welcomed the idea and said city officials would continue working on the idea with Heritage.

“This is something that I think we’re very interested in pursuing,” Paul said. “There’s a tremendous amount of history in this community.”

Susan Beard, a member of Heritage’s board and chair of the group’s historic resources committee, said the organization was asking the council to incorporate the trail into city center plans.

“We envision a set of 2-by-3 [foot] bronze sidewalk markers throughout the city center property” marking historic sites, she said, pointing to Asheville, N.C., as an example of a place that uses such markers, typically accompanied by some sort of artwork or historic relic.

She said the markers are low-maintenance, graffiti-proof and kept up by Asheville’s parks and recreation department.

Sandy Springs’ historic community center occupied roughly the same area as the new city center site. Beard said locations such as an old alley and the home of Sadie Baker, who once sold produce to businesses, were examples of places that would be marked with the bronze plaques, as well as QR codes, so that visitors could interact with them.

“In the ’20s, lots on Roswell Road sold for a couple of thousands of dollars,” Beard said, with residential tracts in the back. “It really was a place where people could live and work.”

The historic resources committee’s Bob Beard told the council that the group would like to see the project folded into the city center plan. But, he said, if the city wanted to pursue outside funding, it could look into grants such as the one Asheville used. To be eligible, a nonprofit group and a municipality must jointly apply for funding for a project whose purpose is extending or preserving the cultural aspects of a town.

Beard said he would like for Heritage Sandy Springs to be directed to city center professionals or landscape architects to pursue the next steps.

“We think it’s a great opportunity to remember the history, engage the community, and drive education,” Beeson said.

Ann Marie Quill

Ann Marie Quill is Associate Editor at Reporter Newspapers.