ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — Members of the Historic Vine City neighborhood joined city officials to celebrate the grand opening of Rodney Cook Sr. Park in Atlanta on July 7, 2021.

Hattie Pollard, 87, says her family has lived in the Vine City area since 1947. “It’s history-making. We have accomplished so much, because there was about 10,000 people in this area,” reflecting on how the population has grown and the changes the community has seen.

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Now, the thousands more who live in the neighborhood have a new $40 million park, nearly 20 years after a natural disaster that occurred in 2002. “A horrific flood displaced 60 families and left blocks of vacant land. Eight years later, residents embraced the vision of turning land made vacant by flood into a park that protects neighbors from floods,” said George Dusenberry, the southern hub director for The Trust for Public Land.

The vision is now a reality, and so is Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ goal of ensuring every community has a park within a 10 minute walking distance. “Every NPU in the city now has a park,” she said. “It is a testament of hope, not only for historic Vine City residents, but for the entire city of Atlanta,” said Atlanta Parks and Recreation Commissioner John Dargle.

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The park also honors the efforts of late city Councilman Ivory Lee Young Jr. and several civil rights icons. “This is the neighborhood which I was reared. This is a historic community in Atlanta that so many movers and shakers that affected the community and the world came out of,” said Councilman Michael Julian Bond.

Councilman Antonio Brown represents District 3, which includes Vine City. “Cook Park is an example of how we can create great green space in Atlanta that provides an experience for its residents,” he said.

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Other officials who spoke at the event included U.N. Ambassador and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young and Congresswoman Nikema Williams. “We all have an obligation to do the work to move us closer to true equality and get into ‘good trouble,'” Williams said, quoting the late Congressman John Lewis. The city also unveiled a statue of Lewis at the park. Officials said they’re glad to pass the legacy on to the next generations who will visit the park.