2 donors fund Eureka Gardens playground

Jacksonville Auto Dealers, attorney Steve Pajcic donate combined $70,000

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Auto Dealers Association and attorney Steve Pajcic have donated a combined $70,000 to build a playground for children in an apartment complex where about 1,000 children do not have a place to play.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Sheriff Mike Williams were on hand Wednesday for the announcement that funds were secured to build the playground.

Eureka Gardens, a 400-unit complex, has become notorious for violence. Two homicides happened at the complex in 2009, three in 2010, one in 2011 and two in 2014. 

Since last year, Wayman Ministries, which is across the street, has targeted the complex in an effort to help. Since the fundraising campaign began last month, $12,195 was donated before Wednesday, when the two big donors stepped up. Organizers thought it would take until Christmas to reach their goal.

"Right now if you go over there you see kids playing in parking lots, in and around buildings. There's nothing really there for them as far as a playground location. We're trying to eradicate that because we have over a thousand children over there and they need something to do, a centralized place where they can play," the Rev. Mark Griffin of Wayman Ministries said.

Griffin and other community members said they hope young people will be able to channel their energy into playing at the playground rather than crime.

The Tenants Association at Eureka Gardens has agreed to take responsibility for maintaining the playground and for supervising the children, according to Griffin.

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