Sandy Springs allocates $21.4 million for capital projects, including new park and repaving

This property along the Chattahoochee River would be the next park for Sandy Springs if a proposed capital budget allocation is approved. (Provided by Sandy Springs)

Sandy Springs staff allocated $21.4 million for planned capital projects including a new park and annual repaving projects.

The largest allocation is for the pavement management program at $6 million, which includes $1 million form the Georgia Department of Transportation Local Maintenance Improvement Grant, according to city manager Eden Freeman.

Freeman said the staff was asking the city council to consider reallocating $750,000 of the budget to City Springs District improvements, creating a capital account for park infrastructure investments or for Fire Station 4.

A $3 million allocation was already proposed for City Springs District improvements, which includes the demolition of existing buildings on city-owned property and for infrastructure.

The city has drained the cistern under City Springs and plans improvements and repairs including installing a liner. An engineering estimate for the work was $1.5 million.

Old Riverside Park, a passive park project along the Chattahoochee River, would get $2.5 million for its construction.

The FY2025 Capital Budget assumptions Freeman presented to the city council can be found online.

Outsourcing stormwater system survey proposed

Assistant City Manager Chris Owens proposed that the city outsource a federally-required visual assessment of its stormwater pipes to a company with the necessary equipment and expertise.

He said the city collects data and adds that to its geographic information systems (GIS) regularly on its stormwater system inventory through its surveys and reports of problems like leaks. This data would be supplemented by getting a contractor to make visual assessments of the stormwater system’s pipes, enabling the city to use all the data to forecast costs for future maintenance, Owens said.

The images and video collected by the contractor would enable the city to become more proactive and address potential problems before pipe failures, he said.

City plans data and AI director’s position

Sandy Springs would not be alone in creating a director of data strategy and analytics although it might be the first city in Georgia to do so, Freeman told city council.

Chattanooga, Tennessee, Austin and Arlington Texas, Palo Alto and San Jose, California, and Alexandria, Virginia, are among the cities that have adopted similar positions and created such departments.

“This position will be responsible for cohesively pulling together all of our data into one place so that it’s easier for us to get the information that we need and council can make more informed decisions,” she said. “That individual will also be our AI lead helping us look at ways that we should be implementing artificial intelligence into the delivery of city services.”

Freeman said a survey was sent to the city’s senior leadership team to learn more about how they use AI and how they plan to use it. They’ve already drafted a policy on the ethical use of AI and local government based on best practices through the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Bloomberg Initiative.

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