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Westside Atlanta park honoring Civil Rights leaders could soon start construction

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Plans: Rodney Cook, Sr. Park will feature monument with observation deck, large pond, and rolling landscape

The skyline of Atlanta stands to the east, with the column — topped by Chief Tomochichi — offers a view.
Views of the Atlanta skyline — and stadiums — will be grand atop the planned observation column.
National Monuments Foundation

To the west of the Georgia World Congress Center, in the heart of Vine City, work is beginning on a new park honoring the legacy of Atlantans who played a big part in the Civil Rights movement.

If all pans out, the greenspace could be a sort of Historic Fourth Ward Park west in several respects.

Rodney Cook Sr. Park, as the space will be known, isn’t altogether a new park. Rather, the park is being constructed to replace Mims Park, which was built in the neighborhood over a century ago, but was lost to the construction of a school in the 1950s.

Atlanta magazine reports that the long-anticipated park — initially to be called Mims Park, though that name was abandoned due to some concern over the former mayor Livingston Mims’ ties to the Civil War — could finally kick off construction thanks to city approvals and funding.

The expansive park will include a re-creation of the original Mims Park layout, designed by Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmstead. Additionally, an array of sculptures and monuments to Civil Rights and civic leaders Dorothy Bolden, W.E.B. Du Bois, Grace Towns Hamilton, Hosea Williams, and Rodney Mims Cook, Sr. will dot the landscape.

At the heart of it all, a 100-foot-tall “peace column” topped with a statue of Chief Tomochichi and observation tower will provide a scenic view of downtown Atlanta.

Funding for the $45 million park has been lined up from an array of public and private groups. A large chunk of the budget will go toward the creation of a major retention pond — like the one in Old Fourth Ward Park — providing a sunken water feature with trails, as well as solving the constant flooding issues that have plagued the neighborhood. The city’s Department of Watershed Management is footing the bill for the retention pond.

While it seems construction could start soon, the project has been the victim of numerous false starts before. Hopefully, this time things will move forward.