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On Atlanta’s Westside, Vine City park has dazzling renderings, May start date

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Rodney Cook Sr. Park is designed to be both functional and beautiful

The new Rodney Cook Sr. Park in Atlanta’s Vine City neighborhood.
The park’s proximity to a Georgia Dome-less downtown.
Images: Trust For Public Land via Saporta Report; renderings courtesy of HDR Inc.

A potentially transformative greenspace that’s been in idea phases for half a decade has an official start date now in Historic Vine City, a few blocks west of the Georgia Aquarium.

A final design is in place for a $45-million project now officially christened Rodney Cook Sr. Park where Joseph E. Boone Boulevard meets Vine Street—and where a groundbreaking ceremony is planned May 19, according to the Saporta Report.

Officials hope to open the park—a collaborative effort by the City of Atlanta’s parks and watershed departments, the Trust for Public Land, and the National Monuments Foundation, among others—in the spring of 2018.

According to the city, the 16-acre park’s pond system is designed to alleviate flooding—a la Historic Fourth Ward Park—that’s proven catastrophic for Vine City in the past, wiping out dozens of houses. The city’s Department of Watershed Management is contributing $20 million of the total cost for that facet alone.

Renderings courtesy of HDR Inc.

Elsewhere, expect a splash pad, performance plaza, picnic pavilion, fitness area, boardwalk, playground, courts for a variety of sports, and a great lawn area with a “natural amphitheater,” the website reports.

Per renderings, the park’s skyline views—at least from elevated spaces—could be splendid.

Another key facet: Trust for Public Land officials told the Atlanta Business Chronicle the park’s design also will include a PATH trail on the northern end of the park, and Joseph E. Boone Boulevard (a connection to the heart of the city) will be transformed into a complete street.

More than a century ago, this same site was carved into another greenspace—Mims Park, named after former Atlanta mayor Livingston Mims—that was later bulldozed for an elementary school. Original plans for a reincarnated park unveiled circa 2012 called for naming it Mims Park, which sparked controversy given Mims’ personal ties to the Confederacy, which he’d fought for as a young man.

So the park will bear the name of another wealthy benefactor with deep Atlanta ties, Rodney Cook Sr., a Buckhead insurance executive who worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. and other Civil Rights leaders in devoting “a good chunk of his civic life to building bridges between the races,” as Atlanta magazine put it earlier this year.

When the park opens, a statue honoring Cook Sr., who died at age 88 in 2013, will stand among others for John Lewis, Joseph Lowery, and other local luminaries.