The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area’s park units have been closed since March 21 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped some individuals from using the park anyway.

At the East Palisades unit’s upper trail in Sandy Springs, where the park’s closure meant a parking lot was also closed, visitors have parked along both sides of Indian Trail nearby, wreaking havoc on its residents.

“Residents have been yelled at by people using the park,” said Karen Steinbert, who lives on Indian Trail. “Park visitors have at times walked down residents’ driveways for no apparent reason. Parking should be provided by the NPS and not by the city’s streets. … This is a powder keg that should be diffused.”

Steinbert was the only resident to speak during the public comment portion of the Sandy Springs City Council’s May 5 meeting, where officials discussed the issue. District 6 Councilman Andy Bauman said several residents have expressed their opinions about this issue.

“This has resulted in confrontations, littering, destruction of property and blockage of mailboxes,” he said. “… But we are on this situation about parking on the street.”

Bauman said the issue may have started when the National Park Service upgraded its parking lot but, in the process, reduced the number of vehicles that could park there.

“The problem is we don’t have a procedure for shutting down roads just for parking situations. If you close a road, it’s closed to everybody,” he said. “But I think they’ve got something figured out.”

City spokeswoman Sharon Kraun said starting May 8 through 10, the city is not allowing weekend parking on both sides of Indian Trail, where the park service already had a no-parking zone.

In other city matters regarding COVID-19, City Manager Andrea Surratt said Sandy Springs could reopen City Hall in late May as it continues to phase in plans to return to normalcy as the virus crisis declines.

Like many other metro Atlanta municipalities, the city reopened its parks May 2. But the Morgan Falls athletic fields, the parking lot near the Abernathy Arts Center playgrounds, restrooms, indoor facilities and sports fields and courts are still closed.

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