Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul, center, is joined by City Council members John Paulson, left, and Tibby DeJulio to give remarks at the Veterans Park groundbreaking. (Sandy Springs)

Sandy Springs officials were joined by veterans and local residents for the city’s Veterans Park groundbreaking on March 24.

“We’ve been planning it for many years and this morning we finally had the groundbreaking for the actual construction of that triangular area which is going to be where the Veterans Park is going to be,” Councilman Tibby DeJulio, a veteran himself, said after the event.

The park site on Roswell Road will sit in a triangle-shaped wedge of property across from the Performing Arts Center.

The city council approved a $5.7 million construction budget for the park at its March 7 meeting. The construction deadline was set for the park to be completed before Veterans Day on Nov. 11.

Over two dozen veterans from American Legion Post 140 Buckhead attended the groundbreaking, Councilman John Paulson said.

“It was very gratifying for me to see the number of veterans from the American Legion Post, come out and enjoy the morning and enjoy the celebration, enjoy the ceremony,” he said.

Paulson said Veterans Park is the grand finale for the entire City Springs/City Hall development that was started more than 10 years ago. To have it realized was a great day for the city, he said.

DeJulio said the city’s veterans need to be acknowledged for the contributions they’ve made for freedom in the country.

“A lot of people obviously have never come back. But it’s a very personal thing for me, and I feel really good about it,” he said. “…We have a lot of veterans here in Sandy Springs, and I feel this is a fitting tribute to them.”

Veterans Park won’t be a place to go and play games like tennis and soccer, DeJulio said.

“It will be more of a place to go and sit and reflect and walk,” he said.

Eventually, it will connect to the Sandy Springs Library and to the MARTA Station with a path for bicycles, joggers and walkers, he said.

Paulson envisions the park as a place where visitors can contemplate themselves, their lives and the world we live in today.

“You can celebrate life, too. It’s a great, peaceful, picturesque setting that makes you feel great to be alive,” he said.

Councilman Andy Bauman shared his Facebook post that explained why he attended the groundbreaking as he had voted against the park budget. He had previously said better locations could be found and both the land and construction costs were excessive, plus the fountain wouldn’t foster environmental sustainability. But he attended to show support for veterans and their families.

“This park will contain a salute to our Veterans, which I voted for in a separate motion. Second, while this was a very contentious issue, what’s done is done. We had the debate, we argued our points, and we took the vote. We have a representative democracy and this is how it works,” he said.

Councilman John Paulson, center, greets fellow members of American Legion Post 140 Buckhead, the closest Legion Post to Sandy Springs. (Sandy Springs)
Veterans from American Legion Post 140 and veterans on city staff join Council members John Paulson and Tibby DeJuio, and Police Chief Ken Desimone, fellow veterans, at the Veterans Park groundbreaking. (Sandy Springs)

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