This letter was sent from the board of the Sandy Springs Conservancy to the mayor and members of the Sandy Springs City Council and was provided to the Sandy Springs Reporter for publication. It has been edited for space.
The Sandy Springs Conservancy is excited about the city’s initiative to design a Downtown Master Plan for Sandy Springs and that public input is being sought, as community support will be vital for success.
The conservancy would like to join in the conversation with our vision for a green town center. The conservancy envisions a town center based around a large green space – a central park – connected to our other parks, commercial areas and in-town neighborhoods by a network of tree-lined sidewalks, becoming the center of energy and a springboard for the revitalization of downtown.
The Target site offers a unique opportunity to initiate such a central park because of its location and price. With the heavily built-out nature of downtown, no other large piece of land will become available at a price that makes sense to develop parkland.
We are fortunate that the mayor and council secured this property for civic use, and that they understand the dynamic nature of urban redevelopment and their role as leaders in creating a new kind of city center for the 21st century.
The site can be the natural convergence of key assets in Sandy Springs, with pedestrian linkages to the Heritage site and Williams-Payne House, library and other public amenities. Sidewalk connections to the Abernathy Greenway and Lost Corner can leverage city investments in these new parks.
This park could feature large, green lawns, tree-lined walkways, play areas, water features, picnic areas and benches – all huge attractors to businesses and local and out-of-town visitors.
Data and case studies show that such a park can spur community revitalization, economic growth, and community engagement.
Many residents are concerned that Sandy Springs will become a transit corridor, not a destination. A strong, green town center will stand out as a place people could come for recreation, shopping and dining. A green town center can be a powerful tool for downtown’s retail revitalization, bringing new business, and local and regional customers to the area. Following the pattern of towns that has invested in a central park, a new green town center will soon be surrounded by café’s, boutiques, offices and the type of in-town housing Sandy Springs so badly needs.
Green space translates directly into another kind of green — dollars.
Parks are now a new measure of community wealth. The overflowing parking lot at Overlook Park shows us that a beautiful park is a place people want to be. The well-attended events at Heritage and the Farmer’s Market show us that people enthusiastically attend events in our downtown core.
Board of directors: Steve Levetan, chairman, Carolyn Axt, Cheryl Barlow, Chris Burnett, Lucy Cabot-Smethurst, Tim Fish, Karen Fuerst, Peggy Gardner, Chad Knudsen, Joseph Mayson, Cheri Morris, Robert Peoples, Nancy Schisler, John Sherrill, Helen Tapp, Trisha Thompson-Fox, Linda Bain, executive director