DeKalb County officials, community advocates and residents broke ground on the 20-acre park off Flat Shoals Parkway in Decatur on Thursday.
The eight-year plan to build the park, across from Cherry Ridge subdivision, dates back to the late Commissioner Lou Walker, who bought the land with District 7’s share of Park Bond funds approved by voters in 2001.
Rochelle Callender, a resident who has advocated for the construction of the park ever since it was proposed, said the project came to a halt after Walker’s death in an automobile accident in 2004.
But residents never gave up.
Callender said they stayed on DeKalb Commissioners and the Parks and Recreation Department to come up with a design for the park, which will include the existing the Dottie Bridges Tennis Courts that were recently renovated.
Callender said there is more work to be done on the tennis courts.
“The lights around the tennis courts need to be replaced,” she said. “Our children can’t walk to Shoal Creek to play at a tennis court with no lights, so we need to remain active and get the lights fixed.”
Before they shoveled the dirt to mark the official ground breaking, District 3 Commissioner Larry Johnson paid homage to Walker, who had the vision for the park as a community gathering place.
Parks and Recreation director Roy Wilson said the total cost for the tennis court upgrades and the construction of the new park is $1 million. The park will include walking trail, fitness trail, playgrounds, gazebos, picnic pavilion, grills, and restrooms. He said the park should take 210 days to build and should be open by next spring.
Connie Stokes, who succeeded Walker on the Board of Commissioners, said she is excited the project is coming to fruition.