A youth sports field will be built at the Sandy Springs United Methodist Church Activities Center at Sandy Springs Circle and Mount Vernon Highway, hosting new soccer and flag football leagues.

Work on the roughly half-acre field will begin July 9 and is expected to move quickly enough for the new leagues to begin in September, according to Jenny Byrd, the church’s director of the Activities Center and community outreach.

The hillside area of the Sandy Springs United Methodist Church Activities Center property that will become a sports field, as shown in a Google Maps image from March 2017.

The sports field is the mystery project that caused the church two years ago to oppose a redesigned version of Sandy Springs Circle that would have eaten deeply into the property, Byrd said. An altered version of that street project is in the design and land acquisition phase. Meanwhile, the church figured out a way to make the field work.

The 110-by-210-foot field will be built in an area along Sandy Springs Circle that is currently a grassy slope and part of the parking lots at its top and bottom.

“That whole hill is going to be leveled,” Byrd said, and 37 of the 350 existing surface parking spaces will be eliminated.

The field is designed to be divided into up to three smaller fields as needed. It will have natural grass, an irrigation system, and a six-foot-high black chain-link fence surrounding it. Part of the site will have an eight-foot-high retaining wall.

The current plan does not include lighting, but it is a possible addition.

Byrd said that “once we can show a success [with the field], then maybe [we] go back and propose lights.”

The Activities Center sits on a 9-acre site at 6150 Sandy Springs Circle, across Mount Vernon Highway from the main church building. The Activities Center hosts many youth programs, including a booming basketball program with about 500 players, and accepts members from both within the church and the general community.

That demand is a reason for the new sports field. The new U4-U8 youth soccer league includes boys, girls and co-ed groups. And a new co-ed flag football league will be run in conjunction with Dunwoody Baptist Church and Dunwoody United Methodist Church in what they are calling the Dunwoody Sandy Springs League. The center’s various sports camps may use the field as well.

The field will not be open to the general public, Byrd said. For more details about the youth events and registration, click here.

Byrd said that existing parking should be enough for the new field’s uses.

An aerial view of the Activities Center shows the grassy area to the right that, along with parts of the parking lots, will become the new sports field. (Fulton County property records)

The project is costing the church about $110,000. Most of the cost was covered by parking fees for construction workers at the nearby City Springs civic center, who parked in the church’s lots. Another funding source: a church member’s donation of a red 1962 Mustang convertible, which the church sold at auction.

The Activities Center has another construction project on its mind. Byrd said there is a plan to build an outdoor classroom for the center’s preschool along the north side of the building. That project is in the permitting phase, she said. That park-like facility would be open to the public as well, she said.

A separate project still awaiting permitting is adding an outdoor classroom for the preschool, along north side of building, which will also be open to the public.

Sandy Springs UMC is celebrating its 170th anniversary this year. It has a special role in local history as the community’s first church. It originated in religious meetings that often used the city’s namesake spring, located across Sandy Springs Circle at what is now Heritage Green park.

John Ruch

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