Abernathy Greenway Linear Park is set to officially open with a public celebration Thursday at 10 a.m. Through a partnership between the city, the Sandy Springs Conservancy, Art Sandy Springs and Northside Hospital, the $18 million greenspace runs alongside Abernathy Road between Wright and Brandon Mill roads. In a statement, Mayor Rusty Paul called it a “true representation” of community partnership.
The confines of the new 6.6-acre linear park encompass a plaza, patio, gardens, lighted trails, playgrounds and the Playable Art Park.
Those behind the scenes said the latter attribute, highlighted by the presence of six playable art sculptures, essentially makes Abernathy Greenway an absolute gem among recreational landscapes near and wide.
“This is a unique playground; we don’t know think there’s anything quite like this in the Southeast, or even the country,” conservancy Executive Director Linda Bain said.
Conservancy and Art Sandy Springs leaders credit a $300,000 grant from Northside Hospital as the catalyst for the aforementioned addition.
“The Playable Art Park Steering Committee is extremely pleased with the response of the art community worldwide,” said Cheri Morris, president of Art Sandy Springs said. “Our artists showed exceptional ability to inspire and encourage children’s play.”
The six art pieces on display were crafted by noted sculptors hailing from around the country, two of them from Atlanta-based artists. “Dragonfly” by Alexis Gregg and Tanner Coleman is composed of several thousand painted bricks with climbing rope wings, slides and stained-glass eyes. Phil Proctor’s “Spider Walk” features a painted steel arachnid with climbing ladders.
“We think [the playable art] is visually stunning and provocative for children,” said Bain. “They can really experience, in a very direct way, public art in a great public space.”
The overall process of making the new park a reality was several years in the making — essentially dating back to 2001, when federal funding became available enabling the GA Dept of Transportation and Fulton County to address congestion along Abernathy Road.
Working with community groups, the road plan included a 20-acre greenway to buffer the surrounding neighborhoods. Following incorporation, Sandy
Springs city officials took a pro-active approach to the greenway, culminating in adoption of a master plan to develop the green space area, said city spokeswoman Sharon Kraun.
Construction on the Greenway began in 2009. Since that time, the plan was modified to include the addition of the artist-created playable art.
City leaders harkened back to the park's origins to pay homage to the individuals and entities that were in on the ground floor.
“The seed was planted with discussion of a widening project for Abernathy Road,” Paul said. “Residents came to us with the idea of a linear park, and [current U.S. Sen.] Johnny Isakson, our state representative at the time, championed the idea — helping us integrate park creation as we worked with the Georgia Department of Transportation on needed roadway improvements.”
Thursday’s festivities heralding the addition of Abernathy Greenway to the city’s desired milieu will commence with a traditional ribbon cutting at 10 a.m.
Residents of the surrounding neighborhoods are encouraged to walk to the park. For motorists, complimentary parking will be available at the Sandy Springs City Green at Johnson Ferry Road and Sandy Springs Circle, with complimentary shuttle service from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.