City of Stonecrest mayor Jazzmin Cobble, council members and other city leaders gathered Friday morning to officially open Salem Park’s new playground to the general public.
The $250,000 investment marks the first of three phases in the city’s plan to redevelop Salem Park and ultimately, improve the quality of life of Stonecrest’s residents.
The new playground, funded by SPLOST, was purposefully designed to accommodate residents of all ages, equipped with features that allow kids, parents and disabled visitors to make use of the structure.
George Turner, mayor pro tem and council member representing Stonecrest’s fourth district, said Salem Park was first developed as a public space to accommodate the neighboring communities. The park, in earlier years, didn’t offer much to engage its visitors; anyone planning to use the facility would have to bring along their own toys and sporting equipment. The city began adding more resources to the park over time, including a pavilion and walking trail.
“[The park] is not just for the kids,” Turner said. “This is for the whole community to have a place to assemble, network, do a little bird-watching and just enjoy nature.”
Turner also said Salem Park’s revitalization will bring Stonecrest up to par with other communities in northern Atlanta. The city aims for Stonecrest’s parks to rival those across Atlanta and the state at large. “Although I know this is just the beginning, this is a beautiful beginning for us,” Turner said.
Benjamin Dillard, Stonecrest’s director of leisure services, said the new playground also helps the recently incorporated city forge a personal identity. The playground dons Stonecrest’s official colors and was fully developed by associations and commissions within the city.
“Our council and the Parks and Rec team worked together to fund this playground, we’re happy to do it, and we’re looking forward to putting more,” Dillard said. “Small parks are an important part of what we do.”
Mayor Cobble said the new playground is only part of the first phase of the City of Stonecrest’s plan to revitalize Salem Park. Phase One also involved adding new benches and replacing the roof atop Salem Park’s pavilion. The mayor said the second phase of redevelopment involves expanding the park’s parking lot and revamping the basketball court.
The revitalization process as a whole will cost the city millions of dollars once completed.
Salem Park’s revitalization is also kickstarting a series of renovations across Stonecrest’s nine other parks. The mayor said the city’s council and Department of Leisure Services will spend six years using SPLOST funds to improve and renovate Stonecrest’s parks.
“We’re just really excited about all the things that we know we’ve been planning for a while, and to see it come to life is just really exciting,” Cobble said.