Completing a ritual symbolizing all of Sandy Springs coming together, leaders spread soil collected from local back yards on the City Springs civic center site Dec. 21.

Spreading the community soil at City Springs on Dec. 21 are, from left, Mayor Rusty Paul and City Councilmembers John Paulson, Gabriel Sterling, Chris Burnett and Ken Dishman. (Special)

The dirt donations were gathered on Sept. 20, 2015, as part of a ceremonial unveiling of the “City Springs” name on the site, where construction was just starting. At least two dozen residents poured dirt from jars and plastic bags into large containers for future blending into the civic center’s soil. Mayor Rusty Paul said during the ceremony that the soil-mixing would symbolize City Springs’ status as a new downtown that is “everybody’s neighborhood.”

Hayes Todd, Holder Construction’s project manager for City Springs, said the container of soil has sat in a corner of the crew’s office for the past two years. Now that landscaping is underway, officials decided it was time to finish the ritual.

The community soil was spread by Paul and City Councilmembers Chris Burnett, Ken Dishman, John Paulson and Gabriel Sterling in a private event announced afterward via press release. They spread the dirt in a planting area to the left of the main City Hall entrance on a new street called Galambos Way, where trees are being planted between the road and the building, according to city spokesperson Sharon Kraun.

Among those contributing soil for City Springs at the 2015 ceremony were Whispering Pines residents Mel Mobley (standing at left) and father Vann McNeill (kneeling) with children Ravi and Seema. (File/Phil Mosier)

“While Atlanta has the phoenix as a symbol, we have our own ashes-to-ashes or dirt-to-dirt story to tell,” Paul said in a press release. “Sandy Springs is home to many amazing neighborhoods. With City Springs, we are creating a sense of place that will be the heartbeat of the city, and we want everyone from every corner of Sandy Springs to feel a connection.”

The soil-spreading along the new road is symbolic as well, as Galambos Way is named for the city’s founding mayor, the late Eva Galambos.

“Without Eva’s vision and tenacity, we would not be a city today,” Paul said in the press release. “She began our efforts to create a place where the community could come together, so it is fitting that this literal and symbolic collaboration takes place on the street named after her and leading up to City Hall.”

The City Springs complex — located on a site bordered by Mount Vernon Highway, Sandy Springs Circle and Johnson Ferry and Roswell roads — includes a new City Hall, theater and arts spaces, a large park, apartments and retail space. It is set to open in phases next year, with the housing in January; the park in the spring or summer; City Hall in the summer; and the Byers Theatre in September.

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.