Mayor Pitches Downtown Parks Overhaul

City Leaders Say $23 Million Already Available For Projects

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Long-discussed plans to fix up Metropolitan Park, fix the Friendship Fountain and replace the Southbank Riverwalk have become specific plans Mayor John Peyton outlined to City Council members Thursday morning.

Peyton proposes spending $11.9 million to replace the 25-year-old wooden riverwalk, something Councilman Don Redman knows first-hand has become a hazard.

Redman is using a walker to get around after he had an accident while on the boardwalk.

"We have let the Southbank Riverwalk deteriorate to a point to where it is dangerous," Redman told Channel 4's Jim Piggott.


Peyton said the other repairs he is proposing are also overdue.

"Friendship Fountain has been dysfunctional for sometime. And Metro Park," Peyton said.

The mayor is asking for $8.2 million to overhaul of Metro Park and neighboring Kids Kampus and $3.2 million on a new Friendship Fountain.

Besides making the fountain fully operational, they plan to tear up much of the concrete around it and make it more park-like.

The mayor and council members said the city already has the $23 million these projects will coast and the money can only be used on capital projects like these.

"It's a good way to start a local economic stimulus package and take advantage of the market condition, because bids are coming in 25 percent below what they were five years ago," Councilman Warren Jones said. "So it's a good time."

The project will be formally introduce at the City Council meeting next Tuesday. If approved, the Friendship Fountain work could begin right away and the other projects could get under way by summer.

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