Great green neighborhood spaces offer something for everyone

Great green neighborhood spaces offer something for everyone


From riverfront parks to one dedicated just for dogs and another for those with green thumbs, green spaces are abundant in Riverside and Avondale, where renovations and new park construction that began in 2015 will see completion this year.

In 5 Points, the John Gorrie Dog Park at Riverside Park is edging closer to reality. After receiving approvals from the City of Jacksonville and the Florida Department of Transportation, Hager Construction Company put up a silt fence in December, beginning the long-awaited project to provide a safe place for residents’ dogs to enjoy leash-free exercise.

“The construction work on the dog park has begun, and will pick up steam over the next couple of weeks. We are looking at doing a ceremonial groundbreaking in January, but don’t have anything formally scheduled yet,” said Trey Csar, Riverside Avondale Preservation project chair. “We’re anticipating an opening in the spring, probably in March.”

LifeRestored_01Also in Riverside, just six blocks to the east, the Memorial Park Association’s Construction Task Force Committee began working on its next project, following the recent completion of the restoration of Life statue and fountain. Michael Blackstone and Patricia Houlihan are co-chairs for the lighting project at the statue, which includes the eagles that grace the entrance to the fountain area, as well as the drainage and irrigation to the center field project. They hope to have both projects completed by May 2016.

In the meantime, Riverside Avondale Preservation and local gardeners are busy turning the former Willow Branch Rose Garden Park into a community garden. Work began in October, with completion estimated later this month in time for the growing season. The 34-plot garden will incorporate roses in the design, as tribute to the original Rose Garden established in 1955.

Visitors to the newest park in the neighborhood, Van Wert Park, will soon see a new sign with park rules, being developed by Kim Clontz and Kristen Surface under guidance by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. What visitors won’t see is the old chain-link fence and the wooden fence, which separated the 60- by 435-foot right-of-way from the adjacent residential property. Those fences were torn down shortly before Thanksgiving, and at some point in the future a privacy wall will be erected by the property owners, John and Kristen Surface.

For Boone Park, one of the area’s oldest parks, Friends of Jacksonville Parks is one sixth of the way towards its $180,000 goal to revamp the playground at Boone Park South, according to Clontz, who has set April 1 as a goal to raise $90,000 from private and community funds. At that time the group hopes to send the project to City Council to request public funds for the balance.

To demonstrate some of the new Kompan playground equipment proposed for the park, during Christmas in Avondale, a spinner bowl was set up at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty. “It was hugely popular, even among adults,” said Clontz. The spinner bowl provides the physical benefits of vestibular stimulation and excellent balance training.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News
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