New Park Opens in Birmingham Area Ravaged by Tornado Eight Years Ago

Andrew Yeager, WBHM

One-year-old Aria Anderson tries out a slide at One Pratt Park in Birmingham.

Tragedy, revitalization and community were oft repeated words as Birmingham leaders opened a new park Friday in an area devastated by a tornado eight years ago. The new One Pratt Park is a six acre, $8 million park in the Pratt City community. A tornado tore through Pratt City on April 27, 2011, a day which saw dozens of tornados rake across the state.

“The $8 million One Pratt Park now stands as the front yard of this cherished community, the centerpiece of Pratt’s revival,” Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin says.

Most of the money for the park came from federal disaster recovery funding. Two of the firms involved also designed Railroad Park in downtown Birmingham. One Pratt Park had already received an American Society of Landscape Architects Merit Award for design.

One Pratt Park features an array of amenities including a meeting building, an amphitheater and a splash pad. The playground features several climbing structures and slides built into a hill.

Pratt City resident Jackie Anderson was on the playground with her two granddaughters shortly after the ribbon cutting.

Andrew Yeager,WBHM

Jackie Anderson (left) plays musical instruments with her granddaughters at the One Pratt Park playground.

“I am really, really glad to have it,” Anderson says. “I think it will mean more socialization in the community. I think people will come together … I think it’s an all-around plus for the community.”

Michelle Perkins, president of the North Pratt Neighborhood Association, is ecstatic the park is finally open.

“[The park is] the first thing that we really have of ours since the tornado,” Perkins says.

A fire station and a library branch have been rebuilt, but there are still many empty lots. Perkins calls the area 75% recovered. She says the next step is more single-family homes. When that’s complete, she says, they’ll be celebrating once again.

Andrew Yeager,WBHM

The amphitheater can accommodate up to 200 people.

Andrew Yeager,WBHM

A tower at the top of the hill contains an LED screen at its base which will display images from around Pratt City.

Andrew Yeager,WBHM

A meeting building can hold activities for up to 100 people.

Andrew Yeager,WBHM

The floor of the trellised plaza is painted like a historic mining map of the Pratt City area. A splash pad is just behind it.

Andrew Yeager,WBHM

Pratt City resident Ruth Coleman tries out a hammock.

More Remember April 27 Coverage

Remembering April 27: Not all Losses were Human

Thousands of Alabamians have spent the last five years rebuilding their lives after tornados tore through the state on April 27, 2011. The storms killed more than 250 people. But the loss from the tornados wasn’t just about humans.

Remembering April 27: From Devastation Comes New Purpose

One Alabama woman dove head first into the relief effort after the tornado outbreak in April 2011. Her group, Toomer’s for Tuscaloosa, took off overnight, organizing aid for displaced residents and other emergency responders. But while helping others pick up the pieces to their lives, her personal life was crumbling.

Remembering April 27: Pratt City Sees Progress, Setbacks

Walk around Pratt City, a northern Birmingham neighborhood, and you’ll see rolling hills and meet proud residents. But you’ll also see many vacant lots, reminders of a tornado that struck five years ago this week. It was part of a tornado outbreak that killed more than 250 people statewide. The community has rebuilt, but there’s still a lot of be done. Five years later, some residents think the recovery is taking far too long.

Remembering April 27: Cordova Recovery Means Unease

This week marks the fifth anniversary of a massive tornado outbreak that killed more than 250 people across Alabama. Since those storms on April 27, 2011, communities have been slowly rebuilding. Two tornados tore through the town of Cordova, northwest of Birmingham. Five years later, some residents feel uneasy about the change.

More Remember April 27 Coverage