The initial estimate of $2.5 million to improve Abernathy South Greenway between Long Acres Drive and Wright Road could be lowered to $2.35 million, Recreation Director Mike Perry said. (Sandy Springs)

Sandy Springs City Council members want to hear from an expert engineer before spending more than $2 million on the first phase of stormwater-related fixes on the Abernathy South Greenway.

Recreation Director Mike Perry shared with the council at its work session on Jan. 3 that the original greenway design did not manage stormwater.

Construction of the trail cost a little more than $700,000 in 2017, he said. The 10 to 12-foot aggregate trail from Johnson Ferry Road to Roswell Road with five or six inlets for water did well until the rains started and large volumes of water entered the property.

“It goes down to Marsh Creek there at a very high rate of speed and does lots and lots of damage,” he said.

Atkins Global, an on-call engineering firm for the city, was awarded a contract to create a plan with associated cost estimates. The staff report presented to the council said the plan denotes improved park functionality, water quality enhancements, and enhanced stormwater management elements. The concept provides for the trail and adjacent slopes to be stabilized throughout the space.

“The major goal is to improve the drainage and erosion, trail stabilization and additions, a range of rain gardens and water quality stream bank restoration pedestrian crossings, streams and landscape material storage areas,” Perry said.

The middle section of the Abernathy South Greenway from Long Acres Drive to Wright Road has the most problems with water, he said. The proposal splits the greenway into three sections with this middle section most critical. Atkins Global estimated it would cost $2.5 million to fix and improve this section. The master plan calls for:

  • Drainage and erosion control
  • Trail stabilization additions and revisions
  • Rain garden and water quality
  • Streambank restoration
  • Pedestrian crossings at existing crosswalks
  • Landscape material storage area

Councilmember John Paulson asked if the structures on Abernathy that bring water to the site are the state’s responsibility since it is a state highway. Perry said he didn’t feel qualified to answer that question, but an answer will be sought.

“This feels to me more of a stormwater quality project first and foremost than a park pedestrian access project,” Councilmember Andy Bauman said.

He said he wants to hear from the Atkins Global engineer in a public forum so the engineer can be asked questions.

“Water in Sandy Springs is the bane of our existence. I mean it’s constant,” Councilmember Tibby DeJulio said. “And by putting something like this off, is it just going to get further in this hole, going to get deeper and more expensive?”

Bauman agreed with DeJulio and said they should focus on the long-term fix to manage the water and come back with pedestrian enhancements.

The greenway drains a 33-acre basin and needs improvements to handle the water retention necessary to stop stream erosion and flooding, Perry said. (Sandy Springs)
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Bob Pepalis

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