By John Schaffner

It is not a bad idea to think big. But it is not always a good idea.

Sometimes thinking big can lead to costly inefficiencies. 

I wonder if that might not be the case here in Sandy Springs. 

It was after attending two recent meetings that I really started thinking about this—about ways maybe Sandy Springs could operate more effectively and efficiently, especially in terms of marketing. 

First, I decided to drop in for a meeting at the new offices of Sandy Springs Hospitality &Tourism in the Parkside Shopping Center on Roswell Road. Although we have covered some of the group’s meetings in the past, I personally had not sat in on one of the monthly meetings. Besides, I wanted to see the organization’s new digs. 

I must say the new Hospitality & Tourism offices at Parkside are much more accessible for the public than its previous second-floor office at 6065 Roswell Road, the tallest building on Roswell Road in Sandy Springs. 

I find myself questioning, however, how much walk-in traffic the Hospitality & Tourism office really will get—even after a big sign is erected on I-285 to shoo traffic off and onto Roswell Road to the office. 

The new Hospitality & Tourism office is placed directly below the new Anne Frank Museum at Parkside, which might increase traffic flow somewhat for tourism. 

Weeks later, I attended a meeting sponsored by Mayor Eva Galambos and the Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber of Commerce which included local international consuls and businesses that work closely with international firms. 

The SS/PC also recently moved into new offices in a real office building at 7000 Central Parkway NE—on the second floor. 

At that meeting, there was a discussion of possibly setting up an international incubator facility, perhaps in the same building with the chamber’s new offices and the Sandy Springs Arts Alliance. 

Reflecting on these two meetings caused me to question why, in a relatively small city like Sandy Springs, these marketing oriented functions should not co-locate and work together to promote the city. It seems to me many of their separate functions actually support each other. 

For instance, I would guess at least 75 percent of the hotel stays in the area are business-related, not typical tourists. So, it seems the promotion of hotel stays by Hospitality & Tourism is very compatible with the marketing to businesses—domestic and international—functions of the SS/PC. 

Another way in which these various agencies might find efficiencies in working together — and even cohabitating — deals with available funds. Hospitality &Tourism has a healthy budget of more than $1 million to work with, which is generated through taxes generated through room stays, etc. The SS/PC has a bare-bones budget in comparison to spend on its efforts. 

It simply seems to me that there could be greater efficiencies from these groups working and residing closely together, rather than operating totally independently. 

At the very least, I think it is worthy of discussion among the parties and city leaders. 

Digging dirt is progress 

It has been quite a while in the planning, but the trees have been cut, dirt (or should I say clay) is being moved and the long-awaited half-diamond interchange for Ga. 400 at Hammond Drive is on its way. 

To some, it may not look like much right now. To others, they are already counting the minutes it will shave off of their commutes to work and home each day. 

One commuter has estimated he will save 20 minutes each way each day. That estimate seems a little high to me, but then I don’t commute that way. 

If you haven’t seen the work that is going on there, you really should take a ride over—maybe on the weekend—and take a look. It is impressive. 

Digging dirt is progress. Now, how long before Hammond Drive is addressed between Ga. 400 and Roswell Road?