RAP, 5 Points merchants plan for city for infrastructure improvements

RAP, 5 Points merchants plan for city for infrastructure improvements
Allan DeVault, president of the 5 Points Merchants Association and managing  partner of the Black Sheep restaurant on Oak Street, is one of the main figures in the association’s push to make the historic commercial district more pedestrian and bicycle friendly.

Allan DeVault, president of the 5 Points Merchants Association and managing
partner of the Black Sheep restaurant on Oak Street, is one of the main figures in the association’s push to make the historic commercial district more pedestrian and bicycle friendly.

Members of the 5 Points Merchants Association and Riverside Avondale Preservation are joining forces to produce a “concept plan” to bolster their chances of receiving $750,000 from the city to help solve infrastructure problems in the 5 Points business
district.

The two groups want to use the money to redesign the iconic five-point intersection from which the district gets its name, repair and upgrade a stretch of sidewalk along Lomax Street, and make numerous other improvements that ultimately would make the area more pedestrian and bicycle friendly.
Merchants association president Allan DeVault, managing partner of the Black Sheep restaurant on Oak Street, says reconstructing the historic five-point intersection where Park, Margaret and Lomax streets converge is “long overdue.”

He said the current traffic control system – which resembles a quasi-roundabout with stop signs and flashing red and yellow lights – is dangerous and confusing, especially to motorists who are new to the area.

Refiguring traffic flow would be “a good, small starting point where we’d have something to show for our efforts,” DeVault said. “At the end of the day, it’s all about improving 5 Points while keeping up the character of the 5 Points area.”

He also said the time is right to seek improvements because Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown’s is continuing his push for Downtown redevelopment, including new construction in Brooklyn, an urban core area situated between 5 Points and Downtown.

“Development of the Brooklyn area results in 5 Points becoming a ‘hook-in’ to Downtown,” DeVault said. “The timing is perfect to balance business interests and neighborhood concerns – to take care of concerns before they become [major] issues.”

City Councilman Jim Love, whose District 14 includes 5 Points, Riverside and Avondale, already has pledged his support for the proposed projects. Love stated in a recent letter to RAP executive director Carmen Godwin that he will request money from the city, but encouraged the two groups to continue raising funds to demonstrate their resolve.
“I think that the 5 Points area is overdue for an upgrade, and my commitment to the RAP board [of directors] is to work with the Mayor’s Office and the City Council” to place $750,000 in the city’s 2014-2015 fiscal year budget, Love wrote. “It is impressive that the neighborhood organization and the merchants association are willing to invest private dollars in public infrastructure projects, and I will do everything I can to facilitate the construction.”

Love said he plans to join RAP representatives and members of the merchants association in a “visual walk through” later this month.
The councilman, who has owned and operated an insurance agency at the corner of College and King streets near 5 Points for the past 30 years, says the current mix of businesses that cater to different lifestyles gives the historic 5 Points area a metropolitan flavor.

“It’s an eclectic mix that I really enjoy,” Love said. “In the past 30 years, I’ve watched [5 Points] deteriorate and get a heck of a lot better. We need some money to improve the infrastructure in that area.”

Motorists approaching the busy 5 Points intersection aren’t always sure of the rules, according to several members of the 5 Points Merchants Association and Riverside Avondale Preservation, two organizations that are making a push to have traffic flow restructured without losing the icon intersection’s historic value

Motorists approaching the busy 5 Points intersection aren’t always sure of the rules, according to several members of the 5 Points Merchants Association and Riverside Avondale Preservation, two organizations that are making a push to have traffic flow restructured without losing the icon intersection’s historic value

Stephen Tocknell of Tocknell Planning Services, the Jacksonville-based firm that has been hired to draw up the plan, says it’s vital that his company gains a consensus among business owners, local residents and city officials on what improvements and restructuring should be made – and why. He said that a community forum also will be held in the coming months.
“We’re going to look at this together,” Tocknell said. “There are a lot of things you can do to make 5 Points more pedestrian, bicycle and even motorist friendly. We need to do it before someone announces a decision that everyone else has to live with.”

RAP – a not-for-profit organization that was established to protect the historic value of area neighborhoods – is using $36,000 left over from previous fundraisers to pay for the study.
Godwin said she and other RAP members are looking forward to participating.

“It’s always great when we can come together and resolve any issues,” Godwin said. “I personally really want to see repairs made to Lomax Street,” from Park to Post streets.
“It doesn’t look cared for,” she said. “It can be so much more vibrant; it would make a world of difference.”

Other areas scheduled to be addressed in the study include:
• The intersections at Park and Post streets; and at Margaret and Post streets.
• The crosswalks at Park Street, midblock between Lomax and Post streets; and at Margaret and Oak streets.
• Street segments on Margaret Street, from Herschel to Lomax; and from Park to Post.
• Possible changes in on-street parking configuration and restrictions; additional angle or reverse angle parking; and facilitation of bicycle traffic and bicycle parking.
• Service vehicle access.
• Transit stop facilities.

By Stephen Kindland
Resident Community News

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...

You must be logged in to post a comment Login