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Photos: After delays, Vine City’s Rodney Cook Sr. Park poised for winter debut

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It’s been more than half a decade since city leaders decided to build the Westside park

A selection of playground equipment with red dirt beneath.
Playground equipment that’s anything but humdrum awaits kids.
Photos: Jay Wozniak, The Trust for Public Land

Long in the works, Vine City’s Rodney Cook Sr. Park is showing noticeable signs of progress, and project officials tell Curbed Atlanta the new green space is now set for a winter debut.

It’s been more than half a decade since the Atlanta City Council elected to have the park built on a flood-prone Westside site at the corner of Joseph E. Boone Boulevard and Vine Street. A few snags have interfered along the way.

Back in April 2017, when officials were preparing to launch construction on the 16-acre park—a collaboration by the City of Atlanta’s parks and watershed departments, the Trust for Public Land, and the National Monuments Foundation, among others—the project was expected to be finished by the following spring.

The new Rodney Cook Sr. Park in Atlanta’s Vine City neighborhood.
An early rendering of the vision for the park.
Trust For Public Land, courtesy of HDR Inc.

“Unfortunately, due to the complex nature of this project, there have been a number of unforeseen delays,” Jay Wozniak, Urban Georgia Parks Director with the Trust for Public Land, tells Curbed Atlanta. Those have involved “an inordinate amount of rain during the first quarter of 2019, site conditions related to underground utilities, and the necessary removal of unsuitable soils.”

Moving forward, however, passersby should notice visible progress every week, he adds.

“At this time, we’re looking to be complete with construction in February 2020,” says Wozniak, who shared progress pictures with Curbed.

Near the intersection of Joseph E. Boone Boulevard and Elm Street, retaining walls surrounding the playground, splash pad, and restroom are being installed to provide a comfortable place for users to sit and enjoy the park under shade.
Near the intersection of Joseph E. Boone Boulevard and Elm Street, retaining walls surrounding the playground, splash pad, and restroom are being installed to provide a comfortable place for users to sit and enjoy the park under shade, Wozniak says. The restroom rooftop will feature a patio that overlooks the park and skyline.
A bridge is under construction.
This 650-foot bridge will hang over the pond. Concrete will soon be poured for the bridge, Wozniak says.

All told, the roughly $34 million park, named for a Buckhead insurance executive who worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders, is expected to feature a splash pad, performance plaza, two picnic pavilions, a pond, fitness area, boardwalk, playground, sports courts, and a lawn area with an amphitheater.

It’s also anticipated to house an array of statues depicting local civil rights icons such as John Lewis and Joseph Lowery, along with Cook.

Notes Wozniak: “Upcoming installations include two 10-foot-tall climbing boulders, concrete deck and handrails on [the] bridge, a boardwalk, resilient surfacing for playground, wide sidewalks throughout the park, outdoor fitness equipment, shade pavilions, benches, surfacing for multi-use sports courts, native landscape plants, aquatic plants within pond, sod, irrigation, and close to 200 trees.”

Construction of the park’s three terraced pools at the Thurmond and Walnut Street intersection continues.
Construction of the park’s three terraced pools at the Thurmond and Walnut Street intersection continues.

Like Historic Fourth Ward Park, Rodney Cook Sr. Park is designed to collect stormwater from the 150 acres around the site. A majority of the water collected in the neighborhood will flow into the project’s pond.

As Wozniak relayed, the terraced pools will provide aeration to the water and allow for sediment in the water to drop and be collected, improving the quality of the stormwater in the pond.