The Adel-Cook County Chamber of Commerce, City of Adel, Cook County Library, and Cook County hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday morning, Oct. 2, 2023, for Storybook Park at the library.
Nyisha Key, Cook County Library Manager, came up with the idea of Storybook Park as a means of drawing children and families to a pleasant green space outside the library, where they can enjoy reading and eating breakfast and lunch together. She believes the inviting atmosphere will encourage literacy among young people. Storybook Park has been a goal of hers since attending the Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Cook in 2019.
Chamber President Heather Green gave the welcome for the ribbon cutting on Monday.
City of Adel Community Engagement Director Brandie Dame then explained that Storybook Park is the first completed local project with the Georgia Economic Placemaking Collaborative. The Adel Placemaking Collaborative is a partnership between the City of Adel, Cook County Board of Commissioners, and the Cook County Library. The Placemaking members are County Manager Randy Lane, Adel Main Street Director Dana David, Mrs. Key, Mrs. Green, Jerry Connell, Sharon Harnage, Maria Hardman, and Mrs. Dame.
“A much heartfelt thank you goes out to the City of Adel Public Works Department, especially TJ, Kyle, and Chris,” Mrs. Dame said. “Many hours were put in, working out in the heat to put the fencing and lights up.” Picnic tables and benches also were set up for families in the park. They also may access the Little Free Library after hours.
“We appreciate the City of Adel and Cook County for the future vision of placemaking,” Mrs. Dame said. “Storybook Park is just the beginning.”
Adel Mayor Buddy Duke also thanked the Georgia Economic Placemaking Collaborative partners that helped make this project and others possible. The statewide partners include the Georgia Municipal Association, Georgia Cities Foundation, Georgia Cities Solutions, UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, Georgia Tech Center for Economic Development Research, Georgia Conservancy, Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Electric Cities of Georgia, and Georgia Power. The Collaborative is a two-year place-based economic development program that provides participating communities with education, facilitation, technical assistance, networking, peer learning, and incentives to help identify their community assets and develop a locally based placemaking strategy.
Mayor Duke, who grew up a block away from the current library location, said the City is blessed to have a library. When company officials look at locating a new industry in a community, they consider such positive local factors as a hospital, school system, infrastructure, and, of course, a library, Duke said. He added that we are blessed to have Mrs. Key here as library manager.
Mrs. Key told the gathering that the new park is filled with activity. She sees people having breakfast there upon her arrival at work early every morning.
Other speakers for the ceremony were County Manager Randy Lane (who served as Adel’s Community Engagement Director during the Adel Placemaking Collaborative’s beginnings), Adel City Manager Mark Barber, and ECG Community Development Project Manager, Jon McBrayer, who recently served as a facilitator for the City of Adel at the Georgia Economic Placemaking Collaborative.
“Storybook Park is the outcome you get when great people and great partnerships come together,” McBrayer said. “This park will be a catalyst for the community and for the next two projects in the pipeline.”
Mark Barber said Storybook Park shows how much community leaders care for local youth, which will have a big impact in the future, and helps achieve the goal of providing more green space in Adel.
Mrs. Dame and Barber said the next two projects will include developing the small park by the Adel News Tribune, and a combination project utilizing the Depot Parking Lot and .92 acres recently acquired by the City beside the railroad tracks by Sharon Harnage’s building. The Adel News will have more information on the projects.
During the Community Art Workshop project on Saturday, Sept. 30, local artist Ellen Wiggins facilitated the creation and painting of the first artwork to be installed at Storybook Park. People at the workshop helped create the community art wall that is now on display at Storybook Park.