Small crowds usually attend city meetings. Patty Berkovitz is a well-known face at many of them, advocating for the environment and Sandy Springs’ streams.
She has lived in Sandy Springs since 1964 when her parents built the family home. Changes over the years in the stream behind the property helped birth her passion for the environment. It increased as she learned more from her late husband, a river environment expert.
“I have horses in the back and we kept losing fences as the creek kept getting bigger and bigger,” Berkovitz told Patch. “I kept asking questions about what kept making the creek get so big.”
When people buy lots with streams on them, Berkovitz says they are becoming “stewards of the waters of the State of Georgia.”
For years she attended Fulton County meetings on planned stormwater utility projects, where her education on the environment really took shape.
During Sandy Springs' journey to cityhood, Berkovitz served on the Public Works Task Force and the Comprehensive Land Use Committee. She is currently, director of District 6 in the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods.
Q: Why is the environment so important to you?
A: Water affects everything...It is essential to life, not just ours but the whole of life, trees, wildlife the whole chain of life. It also, in many ways, affects many of the functions of a city all the way from zoning, planning, variances, road projects, code enforcement, river protection and all that is involved in how a community develops. That is why you will see myself and others from the Watershed Alliance at so many different city forums and also why we are so vocal.
Q: What steps would you like to see the City of Sandy Springs take in addressing the stormwater problem?
A: I would like for the new development of the downtown city center to get as much stormwater back into the ground as possible. And to encourage the city to incorporate newer methods instead of going to old fallback positions such as dumping gutters into the streams and into the streets.
Q: Would you like to see more people turn out for city meetings, such as City Council and Planning Commission meetings?
A: I would like to see more people get involved. I believe one of the gifts of our being the City of Sandy Springs is that we should all be participating...Even when it seems you are not heard or that everyone is tired of hearing the same old thing, that's what advocates do, until something changes.
[Berkovitz said more citizens attended meetings in the past.]
...We encourage and invite others to learn more and to participate, participate, participate.