The city is taking over all operations of the Heritage Sandy Springs park, museum and cultural site from the namesake nonprofit that has run it for decades.

The move was announced April 30 in a joint press release from the city and the nonprofit, which cited the pandemic’s economic impact as the final straw.

The Heritage site, which sits been Sandy Springs Circle and Blue Stone Road, is where the city’s namesake spring flows. The site is owned by the city as a park, but was operated by the 35-year-old nonprofit.

In recent years there had been signs of the city exerting more control over Heritage, including a slowdown on a redesign of the spring’s shelter and a city plan for a Cultural Center that will occupy space once pegged for a Heritage expansion. Meanwhile, the city’s arts-event focus has shifted to the City Springs civic center, which opened in 2018. In the press release, Bob Beard, the interim chair of the nonprofit’s board of trustees, acknowledged there were moves to merge.

“We had already been in discussions with the city to combine operations to sustain the Farmers Market and Concerts by the Springs,” said Beard. “The added strains related to the COVID outbreak created an untenable financial burden. We are fortunate to have had a long-term partner relationship with the city and able to reach an agreement that will allow signature Heritage events to continue.”

“Heritage Sandy Springs was integral in our movement to create the City of Sandy Springs,” said Mayor Rusty Paul in the press release. “They are an integral component of our cultural identity, and we are proud of their many accomplishments. While the organization is taking a pause, we are committed to a continuation of their mission dedicated to a vibrant and engaged community.”

According to the press release, “The organization initiated the request to terminate the operating agreement due to the current economic environment.”

The city will take over operations, overseeing facility rentals as well as the organization’s community events, the press release said. The city plans to continue the Farmers Market preorder and Saturday curbside pickup currently underway. Launch of the Concerts by the Springs 2020 season and full Farmers Market operation are also planned to resume as part of the City’s COVID reopening program.

The press release did not include any financial or budget details.

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