'Pocket park' coming to Springfield for neighborhood's 150th year

Preservation group installing park on Main Street around live oak tree

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A temporary “pocket park” is coming to Springfield as part of the celebration of the Jacksonville neighborhood's 150th anniversary year.

Springfield Preservation and Revitalization Council (SPAR) will be installing the park, aptly named Sesquicentennial Park, on Main Street.

The pocket park will be completed by the end of February and will be in use throughout the year. In early 2020, the park will be dismantled, and the space will be returned to a vacant lot.

“SPAR will be hosting events through the year in Sesquicentennial Park and we’re excited to work with other organizations that would like to use the space,” Kelly Rich, SPAR executive director, said. “The Springfield neighborhood is unlike any other I’ve seen in this city, and we want this park to embody the collaborative spirit of this community. We’re looking forward to the park being activated throughout the year.”

The park, located at 1527 N. Main St. and centered around a century-old live oak tree, will be semi-enclosed with picket fencing and feature a stage. 

The grand opening of the park will be at 5:30 p.m. March 6 with the kick-off of “Music on Main.” The spring music series organized by SPAR will include food trucks, live music, beer and wine, and will be free and open to the public. There are five similar events planned throughout the month of March.

Currently, there are no public spaces north of 1st Street on Main Street in Historic Springfield. SPAR is leading the way to change that by utilizing this place-making strategy that has seen success in many other urban areas, organizers said. 

The goal is to create or enhance public spaces to help meet community needs and bring underused places to life.

“We’ve had a tremendous amount of growth in our commercial corridors over the last two years, and there’s more in store for this year,” Rich said. “We hope that the success and regular use of Sesquicentennial Park will start the conversation of the potential for more public green spaces on Main Street.”

Springfield’s sesquicentennial celebrates the area’s 150th anniversary of establishment after John H. Norton -- one of Jacksonville’s first real estate developers -- was tasked with parceling the area’s land and selling it off. Jacksonville merchant Calvin L. Robinson is credited with naming the new development Springfield because of "a spring of good water located in the field through which West Fourth Street would now pass (near Broad Street).”

You can visit www.sparcouncil.org/sesquicentennial to stay up to date on SPAR sesquicentennial events. Organizations that are interested in using Sesquicentennial Park for their events can find the application at: https://www.sparcouncil.org/sesquicentennial.

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