Sandy Springs Comprehensive Parks and Recreation System Master Plan
Barge teamed with PROs and ETC Institute to develop a 10-year comprehensive recreation and parks system master plan for the city of Sandy Springs, Georgia. Sandy Springs, despite only being incorporated in 2005, is the sixth largest city in Georgia and the second largest city in the metropolitan Atlanta area. The city’s location between in-town Atlanta and the suburbs north of Atlanta make it an attractive place to live, drawing families as well as young adults, and making the park system and its amenities in high demand. Prior to the plan, the City opened some new and popular parks, but they were also faced with the challenges of older parks, acquired from Fulton County when the city incorporated, which needed upgrades and repairs.
The primary goal of this plan is to provide a guide for decision-making regarding maintenance, operation, and capital improvements, as well as acquiring greenspace to spur economic development in quickly urbanizing areas of the city. The plan recommendations are based on a demographic assessment, level of service standards, results of a statically valid survey, review of current facilities, and assessment of land uses.
The planning team conducted park and trail system inventories and park conditions assessments of all the city parks facilities. The Barge team also hosted stakeholder and public engagement meetings throughout the process, which allowed the team to better understand the park and recreation needs of city residents and park stakeholders. The top facility priorities base on community input were hiking trails, multi-use trails, dog parks, community gardens and indoor pools.
Using the information gathered through the stakeholder and public meetings, the survey, and the park inventories, the team compared the city’s existing parks and recreation conditions against national standards to determine level of service and park recommendations. The recommendations were largely dependent on the needs voiced by residents during the public meetings and in their survey responses. The City of Sandy Springs is already developing an exceptional park system that provides a combination of urban greenspaces, recreation opportunities and access to wilderness experiences. To expand upon that park system as is desired by the community consensus, the plan sets an ambitious goal of increasing parkland from a total of 253 acres in 2017 to a total of 487 acres, a 52% increase.
The master plan document is a critical guide for the Sandy Springs Recreation and Parks Department to be a premier park and recreation system in the United States. As the City continues to grow, it becomes increasingly important to protect and enhance the City’s parklands, connect all the parks to areas within and outside the City with a comprehensive trail system, and to expand the greenspace plan in this desirable community.