Mayor’s Office of Communications
55 Trinity Avenue, Suite 2500 • Atlanta, Georgia 30303
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 19, 2017
Mayor Kasim Reed Celebrates Official Groundbreaking Ceremony for Rodney Cook, Sr. Park in Historic Vine City
ATLANTA– Mayor Kasim Reed broke ground today on 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 fifty years, and serve as a grand and appropriate symbol of the neighborhood’s tremendous historical legacy.
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. Mayor Reed was joined by Ambassador Andrew Young, Arthur Blank, Department of Watershed Management Commissioner Kishia L. Powell, Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner, Amy Phuong, Atlanta City Councilmember Ivory Lee Young, Jr., National Monuments Foundation President Rodney Cook, Jr., The Trust for Public Land Georgia State Director George Dusenbury and Higher Ground Empowerment Center Rev. Dexter Johnson at the official ceremony.
“We are proud to break ground today and watch this state-of-the-art park move from vision to reality,” said Mayor 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.”
“Rodney Cook, Sr. Park in Historic Vine City is evidence of what can be achieved as a result of a public-private partnership,” said Amy Phuong, Commissioner of the Department of Parks and Recreation. “We are proud that Atlanta’s Westside will welcome a world-class park next year.”
As part of the park design, the Department of Watershed Management will carry out important 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 City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management is excited to activate the Upper Proctor Creek Capacity Relief Pond at Cook Park project. This pond represents a strong collaborative effort between the City of Atlanta and our partners to alleviate much of the flooding that has plagued the Vine City neighborhoods,” Kishia L. Powell, Commissioner of the Department of Watershed Management. “Our goal is to eliminate combined sewer overflows while preventing polluted stormwater runoff from entering our streams through innovative green infrastructure practices that are seamlessly integrated into the surrounding park.”
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 Trust for Public Land recognizes that urban greenspaces have the greatest potential to impact the largest number of individuals and families on a daily basis, contributing immeasurably to the livability of a city and truly transforming a community – and there are no neighborhoods in Atlanta more deserving of a high-quality park than Vine City and English Avenue”, said George Dusenbury, Georgia State Director of The Trust for Public Land.
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.
“The State of Georgia over its history arguably possesses more advocates of peace and civil and human rights than any other land on Earth. This is truly our brand,” said Rodney Cook, Jr., President of the National Monuments Foundation. “This great nation of ours was dramatically changed for the better by the people who lived in the Vine City neighborhood. Thanks to the support of visionaries like Mayor Reed, Ambassador Andrew Young, and Dan Cathy, we are seeing this world-class peace park honor our peacemakers and enlighten the world.”
The Reed Administration has made it a priority to revitalize Atlanta’s Westside, and has worked to bring new public and private resources to support economic and civic development, as well as expand greenspace in the area. The Home Depot Backyard, a 13-acre greenspace, is planned on the site of the Georgia Dome and is scheduled to open in 2018. In March, the City of Atlanta broke ground on Castleberry Park, a new mixed-use development in Atlanta’s Westside. The new $90 million development will offer approximately 130 apartments and a public park. Last year, Mayor Reed and the Department of Parks and Recreation celebrated the completion of Phase II of Vine City Park. The City of Atlanta doubled Vine City Park’s size by acquiring surrounding vacant land and boarded-up apartments, and installed a new playground, added new park amenities and incorporated stormwater management techniques into the park design.
In 2014, the City of Atlanta’s Department of Parks and Recreation acquired an additional 171 acres of land, which included 14 new parks. This additional greenspace resulted in increasing the percent of Atlanta residents living within a half mile walk of a park from 50 to 64 percent.
For more information about the City of Atlanta, please visit http://www.atlantaga.gov or watch City Channel 26. Follow the City of Atlanta on Facebook and Twitter @CityofAtlanta. Follow Mayor Reed on Facebook and Twitter @Kasim Reed