Balis Park fundraising efforts continue with bricks, bike racks and sponsorships

By Steve DiMattia
Resident Community News

Imagine a time in the not too distant future when you ride your bike to San Marco Square’s Balis Park, lock it up to your own personalized work of art masquerading as a bike rack and then stroll along a brick walkway that is etched with your name. You may even sit down on a bench marked for you and rest in the shade of your own tree as you proudly look upon the beautiful park that you helped to create and support.

San Marco Preservation Society and San Marco Merchants Association are offering just such an opportunity. As part of ongoing park fundraising efforts, individuals and businesses have a limited chance to purchase customized bricks as well as naming rights to bike racks creatively designed by local artists. They also offered naming rights to15 benches and several trees, but those have all been purchased.

“This is a unique opportunity to support a great local project while also getting personal or corporate recognition for your efforts,” said Bob Warren, SMPS Public Relations Chairman.
Bricks cost $100 and will be part of two walkways slated to replace the traffic signal, currently located between the Lions fountain and the gazebo, as part of the Square’s renovation. They can be engraved with two lines and may be purchased (as long as available) until Feb. 28.

The bike rack naming opportunity is part of an open call to local artists to design and build permanent outdoor racks that are not only functional but also uniquely creative. Naming rights cost $1,000 and will be available until Feb. 28. Final submission date for designs was Feb. 2.
Artists will be selected from Duval, St. Johns, Clay, Baker or Nassau counties and their design may incorporate the donor’s name. Local sculptor David Engdahl created the request for proposal for the competition, which will provide artists with $500 or $2,000 to create their one-bike or six-bike design, and the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville’s Art in Public Places program is helping coordinate the effort.

“We are excited about giving local artists a place to showcase their work in a way that is consistent with the goals of the Art Council,” said SMPS Past President Doug Skiles.
Beyond the bricks and bike racks, corporate and individual sponsorships are also available for $5,000, $10,000 and $20,000. Sponsorship packages include customized bricks, membership into SMPS and SMMS, and a plaque prominently displayed in the park recognizing the contribution.
“Fundraising for the expansion and beautification of Balis Park has been picking up speed, and we appreciate everyone who has made a tax-deductible contribution already. This is a unique opportunity to support a great local project, which will make San Marco an even more desirable destination,” said SMPS President Diane Martin, who noted a fundraising goal of $150,000, which will go toward bricks, benches, trees, racks, landscaping and continual park maintenance.

For information or to donate, visit SMPS website at http://smpsjax.com/ or contact the following:
Diane Martin: (904) 614-7814, [email protected]
George Foote: (904) 304-1639, [email protected]

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