Work is set to begin on the $45 million Rodney Cook Sr. Park on the city’s Westside on May 19. The 16-acre park, which will be located in Vine City, began as a way to ease flooding issues in the neighborhoods, but has morphed into an active space that will also honor Civil Rights-era leaders and include a towering sculpture called the Peace Column.
Located along Joseph E. Boone Boulevard, the park will include a pond system similar to the one in Historic Fourth Ward Park that collects stormwater and alleviates much of the flooding that has plagued the area.
But the flooding mitigation is just one element of the greenspace, which will include courts for multi-use sports, fitness area, an amphitheater, picnic pavilion, playground, performance plaza and a boardwalk around terraced pools.
The National Monuments Foundation, which created the Millennium Gate in Atlantic Station and is headed by the son of the park’s namesake, Rodney Cook Jr., has raised money for the Peace Column and “Peace Pantheon.” The column will be topped by a statue of Chief Tomochichi, the Native American who helped co-found the state of Georgia, while the Pantheon will feature busts and statues of Civil Rights leaders.
Funding for the park has been raised through a series of both public and private sources, according to the city.
Cook Sr., who died in 2013, was a city alderman and member of the Georgia House of Representatives who was active in the Civil Rights Movement, famously having a cross burned on his front lawn by the Ku Klux Klan after he introduced legislation to desegregate white neighborhoods in the city.
The park is set to open in spring 2018.