Neighbors spearhead Largo Well Park makeover

Neighbors spearhead Largo Well Park makeover
Thanks to a neighborhood initiative, Largo Well Park in San Marco is going to be re-landscaped with native plants.

San Marco’s 92-year-old Largo Well Park, home to many a neighborhood Easter egg hunt and other informal community gatherings over the years, is in dire need of a makeover.

Plants in the park are overgrown and scraggly. The irrigation system is on the fritz and the artesian well, which sits in the center of the park, no longer flows steadily, indicating it’s in need of repair.

To remedy the situation, Largo Road neighbors, spurred on by San Marco activist Zimmermann Boulos, have willingly opened their wallets to join with the Jacksonville Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Department to refurbish the park this spring.

“Largo Park was last revitalized in 1993,” said Ron Ritchie, who lives adjacent to the park. “About a year ago, the park started to look tired and in need of another revitalization.”

Boulos agreed. “I know that landscaping is about 25 years old, because I remember catching tadpoles out of the fountain with my daughter, and now she is 25,” he said.

In 1993, when the park was initially rejuvenated, the neighborhood funded the effort. Nine of the homeowners that contributed at that time still live on Largo Road, said Ritchie. “All nine of these neighbors have stepped forward once again and happily wrote checks for this second revitalization,” he said.

In all, $7,500 was collected from as many as 20 residents to purchase plants and fix the irrigation system, said Boulos, noting that longtime Largo Road resident Ernie Saltmarsh III donated the lead gift. “Over the years, the Saltmarsh family has always supported all the projects we’ve undertaken,” Boulos said.

After meeting with Daryl Joseph, director of Parks, Recreation, and Community Services, Boulos and Ritchie consulted with Scott Dowman, a landscape architect at Phillips Garden Store, to draw up a landscape plan.

Dune sunflowers, “Emerald Goddess” Liriope, Autumn Angel Encore Azalea, and Crinum asiaticum will be planted. The Live Oak trees will be thinned to allow more light in the park so the grass will thicken. “Everything we picked out is very hearty and almost indestructible,” Boulos said. “It’s all stuff that will survive.”

The park’s artesian well once served the Gamble and Stockton brickyard, which mined clay from the area where Marco Lake now stands, said Boulos. Years ago, as the neighborhood began to fill in, the developers dug a canal to link the clay pit with the St. Johns River, flooding it to create Marco Lake, he said.

The artesian well still works but has been purposely turned down to a trickle because it was using too much water, Boulos said, adding the revitalization plan entails stocking it again with aquatic plants, water lilies, and tadpoles.

Largo Road resident Ginny Stein, a San Marco interior designer, agreed to select new furniture, which will be installed around the fountain, Boulos said.

The city will plant the new foliage at the end of May, Joseph said.

“There is a lot of good energy around this park,” said Boulos. “Everyone who was asked contributed. All of us can do more together than anyone of us alone,” he said.

And even though he doesn’t live on Largo Road, Boulos said he was happy to be the catalyst on the park project. “I just like things in the neighborhood to look as nice as they can. This is a great neighborhood. People respond to projects like this, and that’s what makes San Marco such a wonderful place to live.”

Largo Park Landscape Plan

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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