As he heads toward a third term as Sandy Springs mayor, Rusty Paul said his priorities span from tackling water issues with Atlanta to expanding City Springs, completing transportation upgrades, starting an arts program and spurring revitalization in the city’s North End. 

According to unofficial election results, Paul won almost 70% of the votes over his challenger Dontaye Carter. Fulton County should certify the results on Monday. 

Rusty Paul speaks with a local resident at a Leadership Sandy Springs luncheon on Nov. 3. (Bob Pepalis)

One of Paul’s first priorities is to work with the next Atlanta mayor to get the water system in Sandy Springs under the city’s control.

Sandy Springs officials say they are being overcharged for water because Atlanta still runs and owns most of its water system. The dispute has been brewing for a while, and the pandemic has slowed negotiations

“I’d hope in the first six months to be able to sit down with the new mayor of Atlanta and talk about some amicable settlement on water,” Paul said the morning after the Nov. 2 election. 

Another priority for Paul in his next term includes expanding the town center project City Springs. The city owns a block of property south of the project and is underway on a master plan update to generate ideas. 

“We’ve done some preliminary studies, but it’s really just kind of taking City Springs and moving it south … and then creating new restaurants and shops and other things in that area,” Paul said. Read more about the plans here

He added that a new plan to use the Heritage Building site for the location of the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust and its Anne Frank in the World exhibit will be integrated into the city’s broader plans for its City Springs district.

Transportation improvements will also be top of mind for Paul, as voters just approved an extension of the transportation sales tax (TSPLOST), which will fund major upgrades in Sandy Springs. That includes widening Hammond Drive. 

“Hopefully, we’ll get a big chunk of the Hammond Drive project done over the next few years,” he said. Read about other TSPLOST projects here. “There are a lot of transportation initiatives that need to be finished.”

Paul also looks forward to creating a robust arts program in Sandy Springs. The city recently acquired the Abernathy Arts Center from Fulton County and now is considering what to do. 

“I’ve been the arts mayor, between the performing arts, the Arts in the Open sculpture contest. So, this will be just another extension of what we’ve been doing,” Paul said.

He also said the city is focused on spurring revitalization in the North End after a lot of planning and thinking.

“Now we’re beginning to change the building codes and land codes up there to facilitate those plans. So I’m hoping in the next two, three years, we’ll have some projects that will begin there and they’ll begin that revitalization,” Paul said, adding that while the city has a lot of underutilized retail, some developers are ready to revamp it. 

The city is holding an open house today, Nov. 4, on the North End plans. Paul expects the development code changes to come before the city’s Planning Commission at its Nov. 17 meeting and then before City Council in December.

Lastly, Paul said he plans to ensure Sandy Springs remains Georgia’s safest city, which he said voters voiced as a major priority.

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.