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.
“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.