Urban residents take on trash along Riverwalks

The goal is 600 hours, and it won’t be long now.

The Downtown Dwellers are tracking the hours that people spend walking on the Southbank and Northbank Riverwalks. They have logged more than 450 hours. The walkers were rewarded recently with a wine tasting cruise on the river, catered by the Flavors of Thai and Wine Decadence.

Sandra Fradd, president of the Downtown Dwellers, said the Riverwalks are considered to be parks by the City of Jacksonville and she wants to show the City how invested the downtown residents are in the riverfront paths.

About 1,500 people live in the Berkman Plaza, the Riverwalk Townhouses and Churchwell Lofts on the Northbank, and the Strand, the Peninsula and San Marco Place on the Southbank.

Fradd and representatives from each of the buildings meet regularly with Daryl Joseph, head of the City’s Parks and Recreation Department.

“The Riverwalks require a lot of upkeep,” Fradd said.

Approximately 60 walkers have made it a project to collect trash and to monitor other issues.

One of those issues is the Lone Sailor statue and fountain, which was refurbished last year, but has damage from Hurricane Irma that still needs to be repaired, Fradd said.

Another perennial issue is the homeless, who congregate near the public restroom near the Strand.

Fradd said the City has assigned two armed security guards to monitor the area in the morning and evening to discourage the homeless from bedding down.

“It’s a public access thing,” Fradd said. “We’re not thrilled that we have to have a guard but if that’s what it takes.”

Down the road, Fradd would like to decorate the restroom with murals, but said it would cost between $4,000 and $5,000.

And in the fall, Fradd wants to start a walking club.

“We’re building community,” she said. “In this day and age, we are so separated, so isolated. We are afraid to reach out because we don’t know if people will bite us or welcome us. But this will help us get to know each other.”

By Lilla Ross
Resident Community News

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