Atlanta broke ground Friday on a big new park, just west of downtown. Cook Park, in Vine City, will have statues honoring Civil Rights leaders. It’s also being built to alleviate flooding on the Westside.
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Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said the park will be a new Atlanta landmark.
“On nights that the Falcons football games are being broadcast, when the Goodyear blimp goes up and shows a visual of the city, it will show this park,” Reed said. “Its collection of statues that pay tribute to our Civil Rights leaders will make it a singular experience for our residents and visitors alike.”
The neighborhood has ties to the Civil Rights Movement. Martin Luther King Jr. lived not too far away from where the park is being built.
Ambassador Andrew Young was at Friday’s event. Families of other Civil Rights leaders were there, too, including relatives of Ralph David Abernathy, Hosea Williams and Dorothy Bolden.
The park will collect stormwater to help relieve long-running flooding and water pollution on Atlanta’s Westside. It’s being built in a spot where more than 60 houses were torn down after heavy flooding 15 years ago.
Rev. Dexter Johnson of the Higher Ground Empowerment Center was in the area the night of the 2002 flood, and he came to help residents get out of homes where sewage was seven feet deep. His church served as a Red Cross center for people who were displaced by the flood.
“We’re very proud of the journey. We’re excited about what’s happening,” he said of the park. “Vine City is on the rise.”
The park is designed by the Trust For Public Land, and funded partially by the Blank and Woodruff Foundations.