SNAP members seek more secure neighborhood park

SNAP members seek more secure neighborhood park
St. Nicholas neighbors gather for hot dogs, hamburgers and fireworks on the Fourth of July in Palmer Terrace Park.
Scott Glass and Darren Moses

Scott Glass and Darren Moses

Over the Fourth of July, more than 20 St. Nicholas residents gathered in Palmer Terrace Park to chow down on hot dogs and hamburgers and enjoy an evening of watching fireworks over the St. Johns River.

Organized by Darren Moses and Scott Glass, both members of St. Nicholas Area Preservation (SNAP), the Independence Day party was the first of many the SNAP organizers hope to have in the park since the society has taken the well-used greenspace under its wing.

“On July 4 we brought down a generator and strung up some string lights and 20 of our neighbors gathered for a cookout,” said Glass. “When it was time for the fireworks, a bunch of people who were not from our neighborhood came and joined us. We had lots of hot dogs and hamburgers left over so we said, if you want to come and partake, please join us. They were more than happy to do so. They had brought their kids, and we had a really good time.”

There is nothing Moses and Glass would like more than to see the well-used greenspace on the St. Johns River become a true “neighborhood” park. Already the duo has cut back overgrown foliage and frequently heads down to the shoreline to clean up litter.

But before Palmer Terrace Park truly becomes a place where St. Nicholas residents feel comfortable, more than litter needs to be addressed. Ridding the pocket park of after-hours activity, such as drug use and vandalism, will help reduce the chronic problems that the newly-rejuvenated SNAP organization wants to solve.

“Once we get that park secure, we can keep the park like we want to,” Glass said.

In October 2015, The Resident reported that vandals destroyed a heavy concrete table and benches supplied by the City of Jacksonville by taking a hammer to them and tossing them into the St. Johns River. As the City considered how to repair the broken furniture, Virginia Mitchell of St. Nicholas donated a tile-top table and four chairs to the park, but soon her donation suffered a similar fate. Since then all donated lawn furniture has been vandalized and thrown over the bulkhead, said Glass.

Sunset over Jacksonville as seen from Palmer Terrace Park in St. Nicholas.

Sunset over Jacksonville as seen from Palmer Terrace Park in St. Nicholas.

Today there is no furniture in the park, and SNAP is considering many options on how to make the greenspace a more secure location. Under discussion is encouraging the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to have more of a neighborhood presence and having neighbors who walk their dogs at night to keep a watchful eye out, Glass said.

The group is also thinking of having JEA run electricity into the park, so motion lights might be installed. Another idea bandied about by SNAP members is to purchase the park from the City, so it can be better secured by the neighborhood, he said.

SNAP President Erik Kaldor said no formal proposal to try to have SNAP buy the park has yet to be officially discussed. On the list of things SNAP currently plans for the neighborhood is park beautification and a way to make the greenspace more secure, he said. It has even been suggested that more neighborhood functions, including the annual St. Nicholas Christmas party be held there so that neighborhood streets would no longer need to be blocked off, said Glass.

Palmer Terrace Park is “a place where you can take your dog, close the gate, and let your dog run free,” said Glass. “It’s a place where people who don’t have waterfront property can hang out by the river,” he continued, noting if there was a way to curb vandalism, a children’s playground might even be set up there. 

“We decided to take the park under our wing when we decided to get SNAP going again. Through SNAP we are trying to protect the integrity of the neighborhood and the hometown feel of it, which is important to a lot of the neighbors in our neighborhood. We are trying to get everything back to where it was. It takes a little bit of work and it takes some people’s time, but we have people who are now willing to step up and do something,” he said.

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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