Sandy Springs City Council approved spending $1.2 million to continue work on its Veterans Park site, but they want to hear more about sculpture selection plans before spending $50,000 on artists.

Staff wants to spend the $1.2 million out of the city’s fund balance to finish preparing the site for construction of the park, Interim City Manager Dave Wells told city council at the Nov. 16 meeting.

This “after” concept rendering shows the scale of elements of Veterans Park. The City Springs fountain and the Veterans Park fountain can be seen flanking Roswell Road. (Sandy Springs)

The work in Phase Two includes removal of the remaining building foundations and pavement. That includes removing contaminated soils and installing additional sod to create a more attractive and functional area while waiting on the park’s final construction, Wells told council.

“There’s a lot of environmental cleanup on that side of the site from the automotive shop that was there. We found three underground storage tanks on the first phase of this that weren’t expected to be there. We’re expecting to find something on the other side,” Wells said.

Council approved a $263,285 contract for the first phase of site work in June.

Councilmember Andy Bauman said he supported the remediation. He said the park could cost a total of $15 million, including the $5 million to purchase the 1.1-acre site, $4.6 million projected for design and construction in its capital improvement program (CIP) proposal, and $4 million to $5 million toward installing utilities underground. So far, only the site purchase and first phase contract funds have been spent.

Wells said the utilities work is included in a TSPLOST project. The city has a Johnson Ferry-Mount Vernon Highway-Roswell Road intersection project at this location.

Bauman questioned spending $50,000 on artist stipends to create miniature versions of possible sculptures for the site. He said the city might go with a “deluxe” or “super deluxe” plan, using either the $450,000 projected in its plans or they could include private funding that would bring the total for a sculpture to $1 million or more.

Wells said it will take six to seven months to select an artist. Delays to the process will delay opening Veterans Park.

Councilmember John Paulson said he hasn’t met with anyone about selecting an artist and didn’t think volunteers with the process had held formal meetings. But his understanding was that the stipend was to get some renowned artists to present their ideas for a piece that sits in the middle of the park.

“I would prefer that we fund it, but let’s not spend any of this $50,000 until we get clarity about what this committee is even doing,” he said.

Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Reporter Newspapers.