Riverside, 5Points advocates look forward to dockage, water access

Riverside, 5Points advocates look forward to dockage, water access
Five Points Collaborative vision for a small park near the dock, with bike racks and a tree canopy leading out.

Plans for a new floating dock at the end of Post Street are getting closer to fruition, to the anticipation of area residents, homeowners and business owners hoping for a new place to dock their boat for a bit or hop a ride or cruise on the water taxi connecting the North and South banks.

The dock is set to be constructed between the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens and the Garden Club of Jacksonville, in close proximity to River & Post, with its rooftop views, and an easy stroll to Riverside and Memorial parks.

“We are very, very excited about it. I think this, along with the bike path being built this summer from San Marco over to Riverside and the Riverside Arts Market, I think they are two things that are going to open Riverside up to more of the broader community in Jacksonville,” said Riverside Avondale Preservation (RAP) Board Chair Brooks Andrews. “I think it will make a big difference not only to our community but also to the accessibility to the broader Jacksonville area.” The bike-pedestrian lane on the Fuller Warren is set to be finished this summer.

District 14 Councilwoman Randy DeFoor said in late March that construction on the dock could begin as early as a couple of months from now. The City is working with the State to get a submerged land lease by summer so construction can begin. DeFoor and the City Council set aside about $400,000 for the project, which will feature four boat slips and will lead to parking just off the dock. The City selected local contractor Hal Jones during the bidding, a division of Vecillio & Grogan Inc., which has done work for the City, the Jacksonville Port Authority, Florida Department of Transportation and other public and private developers.

Many in Five Points, Riverside and beyond also hope to add to the dock’s increased public access by beautifying the area leading up to it. Right now, the land access is a public parking lot populated by diagonal parking spaces.

Diagonal parking as it exists now and extends down toward the river.
Diagonal parking as it exists now and extends down toward the river.

Local business owners and others in a group called the Five Points Collaborative set a goal two years ago to beautify the coming dock, transforming it into a welcoming place for visitors new to the area looking to get around to all of the restaurants, shopping and entertainment options available once they step off the dock. Organizers of the Riverside Arts Market (RAM), RAP members and others involved in the collaborative are also urging the use of uniform signage to help visitors get around.

“If you look at the area, when you get off the water taxi and walk into the area between the Garden Club and the Cummer, there is just a parking lot, there is no wayfinding signage. You wouldn’t know where Memorial Park was, or RAM was on Saturdays and it would be difficult to identify where Five Points was. Some of the sidewalks are in disrepair; they’re narrow as they were built many years ago. Some of the overhead lighting is inadequate, the treescape looks tired and needs to be replaced,” RAP Executive Director Warren Jones said.

Currently, there are 55 diagonal parking spaces at the head of the dock site, with little ornamentation. RAP proposed plans to members of the City’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department in July of last year that include placing wayfinding signage there as well as streetlights and extended sidewalks, and reducing the parking spaces to 46 in order to make space for the improvements. Those prospective plans also call for the sidewalks to be extended and a new canopy of trees planted in order to shield cars and pedestrians from the sun. Those same plans also suggest a 50-foot-by-80-foot park between the parking area and the dock, with bike racks and twin live oak shade trees.

As of late March, the landscaping and park project had not yet been budgeted or funded although the collaborative is moving toward that and hopes remain high for a better welcome for visitors.

“(The dock) is a perfect entry way into that location. Our hopes are that some funding is going to be able to be available at some point in time, where something like this can be added at the right time,” RAP Board Chair Brooks Andrews said, referencing “the need for directional wayfinding and to do it in an artful way that fits into the Riverside neighborhood. The wayfinding would include RAM, how one finds their way to Riverside Park, to Memorial Park, to the Five Points Merchants and shopping area. As we have these wonderful amenities added such as the dock, people need to know how we get from there to here.”

Regardless of whether the parking lot project is funded, the new dock will also be part of a larger effort to connect more of Riverside and Five Points with City and community efforts to create a more walkable, bikeable community. The St. Johns River Taxi currently connects the North and South banks via the St. Johns River and makes its rounds to several landmark locations including RAM, The Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, Veterans Memorial Arena and the Baseball Grounds, DoubleTree by Jacksonville Hilton, Friendship Fountain and Metropolitan Park. It also operates cruises along the river. Bike and pedestrian paths provide access nearby, and efforts are underway to create more trails that lace the communities’ best venues together.

By Jennifer Edwards
Resident Community News

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