A city intersection redesign concept that would replace a Sandy Springs Branch Library park with a new street is drawing concern from some advocates involved in the green space.

The city is weighing design options to replace Sandy Springs’ Mount Vernon Highway/Johnson Ferry Road intersection with a new street “grid” or a dual roundabout. Two versions of the grid both involve adding a new cut-through street through the library property.

A path in the Reading Park at the Sandy Springs Branch Library, which could be replaced with a new cut-through street. (John Ruch)

The cut-through drew criticism at a March 8 community meeting from adjacent homeowners. Park advocates are concerned as well.

Known as the Reading Park, the green space targeted by the new road concept was created in 2002 by the Sandy Springs Women’s Club and donated to Fulton County. Featuring trees, benches, paths, a labyrinth and a “peace pole,” it was rededicated in 2006 by the city’s late founding mayor, Eva Galambos, whose name is on a fundraiser brick in the park. A restoration and gazebo area was done in 2010 by Art Sandy Springs, and a more recent garden area was created and maintained by local resident Dee Bradford-Smith.

One of the grid option for the Mount Vernon Highway/Johnson Ferry Road intersection, with the new cut-through street at the far right. (City of Sandy Springs)

Randy Young, president of Art Sandy Springs, said that “it would be a shame to see all the citizen effort lost from these past years of having created and maintained this amenity,” but added that if the road project is necessary, it would be good for a similar reading park to be created nearby.

Bradford-Smith emphasized that the labyrinth — a maze-like path used for meditation in some religious traditions — and the peace pole make it a “spiritual place,” not just a park. “I just never expected, in my mind, they would make it a four-lane road not even a block long,” she said.

The Women’s Club and the county library system did not respond to comment requests.

The grid concept could still work without the cut-through road, just less efficiently, said Steve Tiedemann, the city’s manager of projects funded by a transportation special local option tax, which includes the intersection.

“It’s not the end of the world for me if it goes away,” Tiedemann said at the March 8 meeting.

To view presentation materials about the options, see sandyspringsga.gov/jfmv. Comments can be sent through that website or directly to a planning staff member at rsherwood@sandyspringsga.gov.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.