Sandy Springs has plans to rediscover Lost Corner

Tramp deep enough into the overgrown vegetation at Riverside Drive and Brandon Mill Road and you can barely hear the traffic whizzing by on some of Sandy Springs’ busiest roads.

The 22-acre tract known locally as Lost Corner could become an oasis from that sort of urban noise as early as next year. A group of citizens has come up with a blueprint for turning the tangle of wisteria and privet into a city park, with hiking trails, an apiary and a herb garden, among other features.

“We have a beautiful piece of land ... and lots of great ideas for what we can do there,” said Eric Ross, head of the citizen advisory committee.

The late Peggy Miles sold the land to Sandy Springs at a discount price in 2008. As a condition of the deal, what had once been part of her family’s holdings could be devoted only to passive uses such as hiking, birding and education.

The citizen group organized in February and visited the site, which is closed to the public, to come up with its recommendations on how to make that happen.

The main goal is to loop a trail through Lost Corner, installing vine swings, benches and overlooks along the way. The city eventually could add features such as an amphitheater and a pond for toy boats. A stucco cottage that sits on the site has so far not been included in recommendations, given an expected big price tag on any renovation work.

Nothing can happen, though, until the city figures out whether to keep or move the current entrance at the busy intersection. After that, it has to design gravel parking and restrooms for visitors and fence the entire park.

“By the time we get that done, it will be next year," said Sandy Springs Parks Director Ronnie Young, adding the city would review the costs of the other items during its budget process next spring.

The city set aside $268,000 for the work to be done this year. The project is part an overall push to create more green space for the 90,000 Sandy Springs residents.

There are 13 parks in Sandy Springs, ranging from small neighborhood parks to the recently opened showcase Overlook Park. Perched on the Chattahoochee River at the end of Morgan Falls Road, the $3.4 million gem has proved to be a gathering point for a city that lacks a downtown or other clearly defined public space.

"We traditionally lacked parks and have worked diligently to create them," Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos said. "I'm sure as the year goes by we will figure out how to phase [Lost Corner] in and how to fund it."

One large cost has long been paid. Miles sold Lost Corner to the city for $900,000, although it was appraised at $9 million. Miles' father had bought the land in 1915 and gave it the name based on the fact it was then a remote property.

The land remains remote for nature lovers, given the invasive plants. Paying to remove them could be the first effort to pay new dividends on the property.

There are wild blueberries hidden in the overgrowth, hawks and ospreys tucked in the trees, and natural stone outcrops and overlooks, Ross said.

"Once we clear it out, you are going to see so much that is already there," he said.