It appears that the recommendations fail to properly address the desires indicated in the public survey. Instead the recommendations tend to focus on finding ways to rid the park of its existing users and clearing the tree canopy for better security sight lines, as indicated in the NYC Bryant Park case study example. Without the addition of amenities and programming to attract a more diverse population, many of the suggested recommendations may not result in the development of a vibrant public space.

Despite the survey suggesting that removing benches is the least of the public’s concerns and desires regarding the park, $74,500 has been recommended to do just that. In addition, it seems highly questionable to invest nearly $275,000 into the space to only shut it down for a complete makeover by January 2013.

In addition, the HDR plan calls for the complete reconstruction of the park, which will eliminate its tree canopy at a cost of $649,620 to taxpayers. Quite frankly, the plaza’s tree canopy is its best remaining asset and given Jacksonville’s extreme weather conditions, should be preserved at all costs.

One suggestion that should be considered by the committee and City Council should be the programming of events and ideas on the recommendation list that don’t result in excessive costs. Another suggestion would be to spend just as much time studying and resolving the dead zones created by surrounding land uses on the park’s perimeter before investing $923,915 in a redevelopment plan that may not resolve the park’s core issues.


Article by Ennis Davis