JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mayor Alvin Brown announced Monday that the city will be taking steps to make parks safer and more accessible for children this summer.
The changes were sparked by a school bus shooting that left two teen girls injured and a shooting at a Northside park that left one teen dead and another injured last week.
Brown said park hours will be extended and community centers will remain open longer.
Summer park hours at 14 community centers will last until 9 p.m. and seven gyms will be open until 10 p.m. The added security and staff will cost the city $155,000.
Brown also added four more parks to the popular Rec 'N Roll program, which aims to keep local kids out of trouble during the summer by putting coaches in urban parks to provide guidance and supervision.
Rec 'N Roll Jax started last summer for eight weeks at 10 parks in high-crime neighborhoods. Within a half-mile radius of all but one of the parks, crime rates declined during the time the Rec 'N Roll Jax program was in operation.
The four new parks that will offer Rec 'N Roll are:
- Burnett Park: 3740 Burnett Park Road
- Criswell Park: 5372 Park St.
- Mitchell Center and Park: 1010 Acorn St.
- Westside Park: 1083 Line St.
"Here at Westside Park we will be able to offer young people a place to thrive and stay out of trouble," Brown said. "While it's the sheriff's job to fight crime. I am responsible to offer our children and our families opportunity. And we're living up to that commitment today."
The four added parks brings the total number of parks in the city that will offer the program to 22.
Seven of the parks where the program is available are in and around the Operation Ceasefire zone:
- J. Gardner Nip Sams Memorial Park: 7000 Richardson Road
- Clanzel T. Brown Park: 4575 Moncrief Road
- Grunthal Park: 1660 West 13th St.
- Johnnie W. Walker Park: 2500 West 20th St.
- Julius Guinyard Park and Pool: 1359 Jefferson St.
- Lem Merrett Park: 845 Ellis Road
- Woodstock Park: 2839 West Beaver St.
The other 11 parks where the program will be available are:
- Bruce Park: 6549 Arlington Road
- Carvill Park: 1302 Carvill Ave.
- Charles Boobie Clark Park and Pool: 8793 Sibbald Road
- Panama Park: 6912 Buffalo Ave.
- Pine Forest Elementary School Park: 3939 Grand Road
- Ray Greene Park: 2149 Leonid Road
- Tallulah Park: 382 Tallulah Ave.
- Thomas Jefferson Park: 320 Jackson Ave.
- Warrington Park: 325 Bowlan St.
- Willowbranch Park: 2870 Sydney St.
- Yancey Park: 3352 Soutel Dr.
Attorney Steve Pajcic again donated $50,000 to help pay for the program, which will run from June 15 through Aug. 7.