San Marco truly a winner

The Florida Planning & Zoning Association (FPZA) held its annual awards event in November at Epping Forest, recognizing projects and planning and zoning professionals for exemplary work for the year. The FPZA’s Northeast Florida Regional Council (NEFRC) gave awards to Doug Skiles and the San Marco Preservation Society for San Marco Square Streetscape improvements, as well as to The Health Planning Council of NE Florida for the San Marco by Design Master Plan.

“The First Coast Chapter of the Florida Planning and Zoning Association was pleased to present two awards to projects that are part of the redesign of the San Marco area,” said Ed Lehman, director of planning and development for NEFRC. “The San Marco Square Streetscape Improvements and the San Marco by Design Master Plan are excellent examples of collaborative efforts to develop sound design concepts that address livability issues in the First Coast region, and are truly worthy of recognition.”

During the ceremony, Lehman noted “The redesign of San Marco Boulevard as it goes through San Marco Square successfully allows traffic to continue to flow north and south, while allowing for traffic calming and making it much easier for pedestrians to cross the road within the square. Balis Park has gone from something to look at while you’re driving by it to the public gathering space for San Marco. The efforts of Doug Skiles, the San Marco Preservation Society, the San Marco Square merchants, the private contributions to the
project, the City of Jacksonville and Council Member Lori Boyer to get together, decide on an idea, and actually implement it was impressive.”

Dawn Emerick, CEO of The Health Planning Council, accepted the Master Planning of Land Areas award for San Marco by Design on behalf of The Health Planning Council and the San Marco Preservation Society (SMPS).

“San Marco by Design is the first plan to specifically link health-based outcomes with land development policies and programs, promoting the ‘healthy place’ concept, within the City of Jacksonville,” said Emerick at the awards ceremony.

“A healthy place facilitates sustainable economic vitality through active living; equal access to nutrition, health services, and recreation opportunities; meaningful social interactions; and the provision and maintenance of clean and safe natural resources.”

The San Marco by Design project includes approximately 395 acres located immediately south of downtown Jacksonville. The area boundaries run from the south end of San Marco Square, along Mitchell Street, across the railroad tracks to Kings Avenue on the east, along I-95 on the north, and to the St. Johns River on the west.

With the Health Planning Council as project manager, SMPS received funding from The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida and partnered with the City of Jacksonville and community stakeholders to develop a smart growth plan for North San Marco. This unique partnership of non-profit, private sector, and public sector organizations provided the necessary resources to complete a comprehensive community assessment and develop an improvement plan based on smart growth principles.

Other award winners included the City of Jacksonville Beach Community Redevelopment Agency for Phase II of the Vision Plan; the Jacksonville Office of Economic Development for the JIA CRA Plan Amendment; First Coast Fresh for the Growers Cooperative; Ron Chamblin for Chamblin’s Uptown; and The Jacksonville Aviation Authority for the Cecil Airport Natural Resource Protection Study.

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