A groundbreaking ceremony was held May 19 for Rodney Cook, Sr. Park in Historic Vine City. The $45 million, 16-acre park represents the largest investment in a public park in the Westside neighborhoods in more than 50 years, according to media release from the city.
The park, slated to be completed in summer 2018, will feature a stormwater retention pond, a splash-pad, a playground, a performance plaza, a picnic pavilion, courts for multi-use sports, a fitness area, a boardwalk, an overlook and terraced pools.
“We are proud to break ground today and watch this state-of-the-art park move from vision to reality,” said Mayor Kasim Reed. “The synergy to revitalize and reactivate the Historic Vine City neighborhood and surrounding areas is remarkable, and I would like to thank all the partners involved who are making a positive impact. Rodney Cook, Sr. Park in Historic Vine City will serve as a catalyst for economic development in the Westside, and be a source of pride for Atlanta for decades to come.”
As part of the park design, the Department of Watershed Management will carry out environmental remediation work, and has committed $20 million to fund and manage the design and construction of a stormwater retention pond. The official name for the project is the Upper Proctor Creek Capacity Relief Pond at Cook Park. In response to the floods in Vine City over the past decades, the new park will be able to accommodate a 100-year flood event. Similar to the Historic Old Fourth Ward Park stormwater retention pond model, the project aims to reduce flooding and the amount of pollutants entering Atlanta’s waterways, as well as increase the capacity of the combined sewer system which will eliminate sewer spills.
The Trust for Public Land and its design consultant firm, Andropogon, in collaboration with the City of Atlanta, worked with several stakeholders and the community to finalize the plan design. In addition, The Trust for Public Land is raising $12.7 million from the private sector for the construction and design of the greenspace. With lead gifts from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, and support from other notable family and corporate foundations, The Trust for Public Land is on track to complete fundraising for the project by the end of September.
The park is named in honor of Rodney, Cook Sr., a former state representative from Atlanta who helped bridge racial divides. To pay tribute to the City of Atlanta being the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement, the park will include 18 statues of Georgia civil rights leaders and peacemakers, as well as a 110-foot peace column dedicated to civil and human rights and the Dr. C.T. Vivian Library of African American Literature.