The Riverside Homeowners Association will not have a position on plans for the Old Riverside Drive property until all members have had an opportunity to voice their feedback on the park idea, according to Lisa Hrabe, President of the Riverside HOA.
“We’re still trying to get feedback from folks,” Hrabe said, adding that the HOA of 700 homes has an open mind on a new park.
“We want to take a step back and make sure everyone is on the same page before we take a position as a neighborhood. We are in a fact-finding mission here. We are not pro or con,” she said.
Residents of the 700 homes that surround the proposed park property will have an opportunity to hear from city officials during a Riverside HOA meeting on May 3rd.
City Councilman Chip Collins sent a letter to homeowner association groups in his district asking them to cast a vote “yes” or “no” on the park by Saturday, however Riverside HOA will not vote before their meeting.
Hrabe said there is a range of opinions on the park and the HOA wants to address the questions of residents that have concerns.
“[The city] wants our support on something, but we don’t exactly know what it is we would be supporting,” she said. "We want to make sure everyone that wants to be educated on the park is educated and can provide their feedback, so we can come to a conclusion as a board."
Several residents who want exact details on how the park will be developed have echoed that desire.
At this point, only conceptual plans have been created in order to give the community a sense of the park, Collins told Patch.
“I don’t think it makes sense to fully develop the plans now,” he said. “It should be worked out after we’ve acquired control of the property. We don’t want to spend a year with neighborhoods and using resources, and find out we can’t acquire the property.”
What's happened so far
During a February City Council meeting, members decided to move forward in developing a concept for the new park, which was used as a sewage pumping station for Fulton County. Initial drawings for the 25-acre site were to include a 60-80 space parking lot, 3.24 acres devoted to a playground and grassy area, a parking lot, restrooms, and pavilions that could extend over the bank of the river.
[Collins said large and small dog parks in original plans have been removed.]
The purchase and design of the property was listed as a goal during this week’s City Council retreat, but Collins said negotiations for the property are on hold until the community fully weighs in.
Resident Susan Zweig, who organized to gather more information from city officials, said there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the idea of a park.
“Our biggest concern is that we will get something other than what we want,” she said. “I want every citizen that lives in this area of Sandy Springs to be able to hear and see what they propose. Let [the city] do another drawing that’s more likely to be what they actually intend to do.”
Some neighbors worry a park would attract too many people to the quiet neighborhood, and crime.
Collins said it could take a year to decide on the exact design of the park, but there are a few things the Councilman does know for sure, he said. “We’re not going to have a water park or lighted soccer field. This is just a way to open up this piece of property to the neighborhood and the city. And of course we will develop it in an environmentally conscious way,” he said. “We will plan in away where you will not have someone walking their dog or hiking next to someone’s property.”
What happens if Riverside HOA votes no and the other HOAs vote yes?
That will be a tough call, Collins said.
“There may be others on the Council that say our goal is to acquire parks and green space for the city and you will always have people who worry about change,” he said.
is 5,000 acres below what National Parks and Recreations standards say we should have, based on its populations, said Ronnie Young, head of the city’s Recreation and Parks department, this week.
“In that sense, any opportunity to acquire land and [build] a park, we need to take a good hard serious look at,” Collins said. “If you have the appropriate number of parks spread through the city, each area will have its own parks. They won’t be overcrowded.”
Overcrowding remains a concern for Zweig. “I’m hoping they will do more drawings. Show us something that we can hang our hat on,” she said.