ORANGE PARK, Fla. – There is a major push underway in Orange Park to rehab and improve two major roadways: U.S. 17 and Kingsley Avenue.
Town leaders are considering trying to get the town what’s called a Main Street USA designation, which would provide funding to completely overhaul the town’s two main corridors.
U.S. 17 and Kingsley Avenue are the targets to revive the look of the town -- changing everything from businesses to streetlights and homes -- because town leaders told News4Jax that many of the buildings in Orange Park have not been improved on in a long time.
Last week, the Orange Park Town Council heard a proposal about applying to get the town Main Street USA status, which can get them a lot of grant money to complete the project.
Town Councilman Roland Mastandrea is pushing for this.
“We already have all the basics that are needed. We just haven’t done anything with our housing stock and our commercial stock in the town, and part of that is self-inflicted," Mastandrea said. “The town, in the past, never looked into being pro-active.”
He said the town can apply next year to get the designation, which the city of Fernandina Beach already has. Mastandrea said that if approved in the next several years, there would be a major overhaul of every building on the two main corridors through the incorporated town of Orange Park.
“I see some of these images out there of what Main Street looks like, and it doesn’t necessarily match what Main streets look like right now,” Mastandrea said. “And that’s the reason we want to do it. Our town is, like, 153 years old and, over the years, so much has happened that the storefronts and even the homes have grown tired."
News4Jax talked with locals about the idea and found split views on it.
“That’s a great idea,” said Clay County resident Cedric Robinson. “We need to do more things like that.”
“It’s a little much for Orange Park," Clay County resident Michelle Guyot said. “We’re a smaller town. We like to stay that way, especially the town of Orange Park.”
Guyot added traffic is already bad on U.S. 17, as well as Blanding Boulevard.
Mastandrea said the town has already made some headway by banning businesses like liquor stores and car lots and instituting new sign ordinances as they try and make the heart of Clay County look like Main Street USA.
The next step for this is applying for the Main Street USA designation, which would likely happen next spring. Mastandrea told News4Jax that five cities in Florida will likely be getting approval for the designation this year. If the Town Council votes to move forward, they hope to do it in 2021.