Sandy Springs will build a Veterans Park with a fountain for $5.7 million that’s scheduled for completion before Veterans Day this year.
The construction will require $2.6 million more than the city has available for the project on the triangle of property across Roswell Road from the Performing Arts Center, Mike Iezzi of construction company Reeves Young told the City Council during its March 7 meeting.
Iezzi said the anticipated $2 million would be available in the fiscal year 2024 Capital Improvement Program funding.
The project is on a tight schedule to complete construction before Veterans Day on Nov. 11. However, the city’s holiday ceremonies will not be held at the park, City Manager Eden Freeman said.
She said the city will not be able to set up chairs in Veterans Park, so the city’s holiday celebrations will be held inside in Byers Theatre.
A proposal to build the project without the $1.5 million fountain was rejected. Iezzi said that the flowerbed option would have required almost $800,000 to construct planters, add irrigation, and build additional sidewalks. The flowerbed version would have direct construction costs of $5 million, he said.
Groundbreaking for the park is expected during the week of March 20, with construction beginning immediately, Iezzi said.
Even with the funding, the full property envisioned for the park won’t be completed in this project. A section of the property that starts at the border with the Sandy Springs Public Library Branch to just past Boylston Drive NE is not included in this project.
Councilmember John Paulson moved to approve the $5.7 million budget for the Veterans Park with the fountain option.
Councilmember Jody Reichel said Hammond Park, Morgan Falls Overlook Park, the planned Old Riverside Park and others desperately need improvements.
“I support the veterans, I support a memorial whether it’s across the street or somewhere else, but I just cannot support spending millions of dollars on a fountain or flowers and I would like to go back to the drawing board and see what else we can put out there,” she said.
Councilmember Andy Bauman said he supports veterans and a veterans memorial. He made a motion to separate funding for a veterans memorial from the main question about the full park project, leaving that for a second motion. But his motion failed on a split vote with the tie broken by the mayor.
Local veterans back park with fountain
Before the City Council began a discussion about the park, several local veterans spoke in support of the project including the fountain.
“I would hold that a commitment has been made to the citizens of Sandy Springs for a veterans’ fountain,” Drew Early, a 24-year U.S. Army veteran, said.
Recalling his time in the U.S. Marine Corps as a combat veteran in Vietnam, Patrick Hill said he believed city residents would appreciate being able to pay their respects at a place like this park.
“I think that fountain is a magnificent statement of memory to those veterans … particularly those who gave their all,” he said.