At a ribbon-cutting event a decade and 1/2 in the making today, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms recalled growing up in the city, taking her first trip on MARTA, and riding elevators to the top of Westin Peachtree Plaza for the first time.
Kids of today’s Atlanta, said the mayor, will feel a similar sensation entering Westside Park for the first time, now that they officially can.
“It is done, Atlanta,” cheered Bottoms, to applause. “We are here to celebrate this wonderful greenspace.”
Atlanta’s efforts to fashion the former 137-acre quarry into a public amenity were officially set in motion back in 2006, when the city bought the property from Vulcan Materials Company for about $40 million.
While only the first phase of Westside Park is complete, city officials have christened it Atlanta’s new largest greenspace at 280 acres overall, topping Chastain Memorial Park’s 268 acres and dwarfing the city’s most famous greenspace, 189-acre Piedmont Park.
Phase one cost $44 million. A $17.5-million donation from The Arthur Blank Family Foundation, and $15 million in TSPLOST monies covered the bulk of that, with the city’s watershed and parks and recreation departments paying the rest. About $500,000 in Westside impact fees were also used.
Westside Park visitors will find large sculptures, scenic woods, three pavilions, 450 parking spaces, a playground and open fields, plus two and ½ miles of ADA-accessible bike and walking trails linked to the marquee attraction: the “grand overlook” on high cliffs of the former quarry.
“It’s my hope that this park and its amenities will be enjoyed for many more generations to come,” said watershed commissioner Mikita Williams, before the ceremonial ribbon was cut.
Have a look at what all the excitement’s about in the gallery above.
• Photos: At downtown Atlanta's edge, Cook Park is a functional gem (Urbanize Atlanta)