By Katie Fallon
With cake and gifts on hand, the city of Sandy Springs celebrated its second birthday before the Dec. 4 City Council meeting.
Since the residents of Sandy Springs approved incorporation during a summer special election in 2005, City Manager John McDonough said the city government has grown to include six major departments, including police, fire, recreation and parks, public works, community development and administrative services. Through contractor CH2M Hill, the city employs approximately 350 people.
With all that support, Mayor Eva Galambos said she was proud of what the city has accomplished in such a short time.
“The most amazing thing is what we’ve been able to do with the public safety,” Galambos said. “To be able to put the kind of police coverage on the streets that we have, compared to what we had when we started, that is the most notable thing that people have talked to me about. They’re so grateful for the police presence. They feel more secure.”
McDonough agreed that establishing the city’s public safety departments was among Sandy Springs’ crowning achievements over the last two years, along with the “completion of the Comprehensive Plan that will guide future development in the city. The city began a major road paving project for city streets and synchronized traffic signals along Roswell Road to improve traffic flow,” he noted.
The city reached a long-sought milestone on Nov. 20 when the council approved the community’s Comprehensive Plan. The nearly 18-month process, led by Deputy Community Development Director Vann McNeil, ended that evening when the City Council unanimously approved the document with a few minor changes from state authorities.
In fact, the city had two years from its opening day in 2005 to pass its own Comprehensive Plan in order to maintain city government status. That deadline was met with just 11 days to spare during the last regular council meeting before Dec. 1.
“That was an exercise,” Galambos said with relief. “It felt like a huge burden off our shoulders. It just takes time to get some of these things going, and I’m so glad we’re finally getting them in place.”
In the future, the mayor expects one benchmark accomplishment to include the redevelopment of Roswell Road. She expects some announcements about redevelopment in the near future, but said it will still be a long time before residents will see change.
Galambos also has her personal wish list for the city.
“We seriously need an indoor swimming pool for the kids of Sandy Springs,” she said.
Galambos said what will occupy a bulk of the discussion of such an endeavor is how to manage a public-private partnership to facilitate the project. She said she would not characterize such a partnership as tough, but rather a matter of harnessing public and private resources.
“This facility is going to have to be something that serves the entire community, including everybody up and down Roswell Road,” Galambos said. “I’m hoping that will be something we can bring to fruition.”