Land purchases move forward Sandy Springs park, intersection projects
Land purchases approved by Sandy Springs City Council Jan. 16 will move forward a new park and a long-awaited intersection redesign.
A $39,500 purchase of flood-plain land in the panhandle will allow the city to link its new Crooked Creek Park to a currently inaccessible part of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area via a walking trail.
And about $171,000 is buying the city five of eight parcels needed as right of way to rebuild the Roswell Road/Glenridge Drive intersection, which is in the design phase.
Crooked Creek Park
The city’s park is 5 acres of wooded property at Spalding and River Exchange drives. The city already owns the property, but it lacks any particular amenity or identity as a park.
The property purchased by the city for Crooked Creek Park is marked in yellow on this map from a City Council packet. The new city park is the property at the bottom marked “COSS” (city of Sandy Springs) and the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area parkland is the property at the top marked “NPS” (National Park Service).
In October, the city announced it would team with the National Park Service on the trail plan, essentially giving citizens access to two parks for the price of one. The trail would run along the park’s namesake creek.
A challenge arose because part of the trail would run through the property of Retreat at River Park, an apartment complex on River Exchange Drive. The apartments’ owner, a Utah company called Cottonwood, according to county records, raised security concerns.
However, the company has agreed to sell 1.95 acres of its land to the city after all, in exchange for the $39,500 and the promise to build a fence along with the trail, according to Michael Perry, director of the Parks and Recreation Department.
City Councilmember John Paulson, who has long advocated for the park, called it a “great price” and said he now wants design details. But those will have to wait a while. Once the sale is final, the design firm Pond & Company will begin the initial environmental assessment phase, Perry said.
Meanwhile, city is applying for a $200,000 trail grant from the state Department of Natural Resources, which would be matched with $50,000 in city money.
Plans to realign and redesign the notoriously dangerous Roswell/Glenridge intersection have been in the works for years. The current plan – last presented formally to the public almost two years ago — would reconfigure from a pair of Y-shaped intersections into a T intersection.
The design for the Glenridge Drive/Roswell Road intersection as shown at a February 2016 meeting. (File/John Ruch)
The project is currently in the design phase, according to the city’s transportation project web page. It’s a partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation, which owns Roswell Road. The latest official schedule, dating from a 2016 meeting, still says construction is estimated to start in October, though officials have previously said it could start sooner – or later.
A major issue to the neighborhood was right of way – strips of land along the roadside that the city needs to shift the road’s path. City Attorney Dan Lee said that agreements have been reached with four condominium associations for right of way. Those associations include the Courtyards of Glenridge at 5375 Roswell; the Glenridge Unit Owners’ Association at 5269 Glenridge; Round Hill at 5400 Roswell; and Willow Glen at 5425 Willow Glen N.E.
A city sketch showing property owners around the Roswell Road/Glenridge Drive intersection and the amount of acreage needed for right of way. Roswell Road is the vertical road running roughly north-south in this image and Glenridge is the horizontal road running eastward.
The deal also includes an unusual property – a strip of land between the Glenridge and Willow Glen that, Lee said, is an “abandoned county road” whose specific ownership is unclear. An internal memo from Lee to city officials gives the few known details of the former “Spruill Road” that have been gleaned from the mists of history.
In 1883, the area was part of a 202-acre property deeded to one James J. Green. He subdivided the property into seven lots in 1926, and they were “passed on” to his heirs in 1931. The next official record about the land in question came 40 years later, when Fulton County issued a resolution abandoning Spruill Road. Wherever the road came from in the first place, it was abandoned at the adjacent property owners’ request and split between them, according to the city memo.
All of the properties are being acquired by what Lee called a “friendly” version of eminent domain. That means the city will file court papers seeking to seize the land with the cooperation of the owners. Lee said that simplifies this type of deal, where condo associations can make the general agreement, but can’t deed over the property; individual owners must be involved. The city will pay the money to the court, which will then disburse to it owners – including the $2,700 for the piece of the former Spruill Road.
City Councilmember Tibby DeJulio noted that the concept of redesigning the intersection predates the city’s 2005 incorporation, when it was once a “grandiose” plan now scaled down appropriately. “I’m just glad to see we’re finally getting to this project,” he said, praising the acquisition agreements.