By Michaela Kron

For more than a decade, the lack of sidewalks in the North Springs subdivision off Dalrymple Road has been an issue for residents, many of whom cite safety concerns because Spalding Drive Charter Elementary School is within the subdivision on West Spalding Drive.

The past two years, Judy Hiles, the president of the North Springs Homeowners’ Association, has campaigned for the Sandy Springs City Council to build sidewalks in the subdivision.

“We really need these sidewalks,” Hiles said. “People go very fast on Brandon Mill (Road), and there’s no protection for walkers, including parents who might want to walk with their children.”

The Sandy Springs Public Works Department has proposed a plan for the installation of sidewalks inside and just outside North Springs. The project is part of the city’s overall sidewalk program.

The proposal calls for 5-foot-wide concrete sidewalks with a 2½-foot-wide curb and gutter on the east side of Brandon Mill Road from West Spalding Drive to Dalrymple Road, ensuring connectivity beginning on the south side on Riverside Drive and continuing on Dalrymple Road from Wildercliff Drive to Duncourtney Drive. In total, the sidewalks would span 3,000 feet.

The ultimate purpose is to provide safe access to Spalding Drive Charter Elementary, said Beth Ann Marks, the manager of roadway design at the LPA Group and the manager of the Spalding Drive Charter project, during an Aug. 4 public meeting at the school.

North Springs resident Peggy Freedman agrees with the reasoning. “The school is a community center. I think it makes sense to put the sidewalk around the school.”

Construction is expected to begin next spring and last four months.

The city will pay the estimated $500,000 cost from the general fund of the 2010 budget.

Dist. 3 Councilman Rusty Paul, who spoke at the meeting, said he sees many benefits in adding sidewalks to the subdivision, including reduced driving speeds. “Having sidewalks is one of the best things to slow people down.”

Some residents expressed concerns about the plan, such as cost and the placement of the sidewalks. In particular, some objected to the construction of a shorter sidewalk on the south side of Riverside Drive rather than inside the subdivision or farther along Dalrymple Road to the Princeton Trace subdivision.

North Springs resident Marguerite Wilson said she is concerned about the use of granite retaining walls instead of flagstone. “It’s not consistent with the neighborhood.”

Mark Moore, the city’s chief engineer for traffic planning, said the project marks the first phase of sidewalk construction in and around North Springs. “This is a small piece of a much, much bigger puzzle.”