JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For years, there have been promises of downtown riverfront development, yet nothing has happened.
Now the promise of new parks along the St. Johns River is closer to coming true.
On Wednesday, the Downtown Investment Authority laid out its five-year plan for the area.
The day before, a group of millennial professionals helped get Jacksonville City Council members to back a plan to tie in new parks along the riverfront from Metropolitan Park by TIAA Bank Field to the Shipyards property across the Duval County jail to the old Jacksonville Landing site, which is now called Riverfront Plaza.
The City Council on Tuesday night approved a resolution to support park development along the downtown riverfront. That happened after the group of young people spoke to council members during the council meeting.
News4JAX spoke with several of them on Wednesday. Kristen Dureaux explained why they are passionate about this.
“It’s nice to hear about the future of the city from the people that will be here. With us being a group of young professionals, we are going to frequent the area a lot more,” Dureaux said.
City Council member Matt Carlucci, who sponsored the resolution, said he was excited to hear what young adults had to say about the plans. Scott Powell is one of them.
“What we can look forward to in the next 10 years is to be able to walk from a great park like James Weldon Johnson right from City Hall down Laura Street to Riverfront Plaza to a world-class destinations park. But that won’t happen if we don’t put it in the budget, " Powell said.
Agata Gardner agrees.
“Part of why I think Met Park has failed, and why James Weldon Johnson [Park] needs to be activated to have people come, is that it’s not connected to much other green space,” Gardner said.
One big complaint about developing downtown has been public safety. Stephanie Garry Garfunkel said building parks could change that.
“When people see women and people see children using a space, they feel that it’s safer, and guess what? More people come in. That’s why I think parks are such an important part of this. If we only put nightclubs downtown, is it going to feel safer? We want people using downtown spaces 365 days a year, and that means playgrounds, that means destination parks, that means sports fields,” Garry Garfunkel said.
The resolution passed Tuesday evening by the City Council not only addresses the downtown riverfront, but it also ties in the river from the Fuller Warren Bridge and along the Southbank near the Duval County School Board building and where the Rivers Edge development is currently being built.