Neighborhood access by waterway coming to fruition

Day Docks give boaters a chance to enjoy area amenities

Concept design of improved Post Street Riverfront Park with overlay of Post Street Day Dock for Riverside Avondale Preservation by landscape architect Rick Pariani
Concept design of improved Post Street Riverfront Park with overlay of Post Street Day Dock for Riverside Avondale Preservation by landscape architect Rick Pariani

The opening of the Post Street Day Dock brings to fruition many years of efforts by Riverside residents and Five Points merchants and nonprofits and the realization of desires by Jacksonville residents to have greater ability to access the City’s riverfront neighborhoods.

With a scheduled opening in June, Post Street Day Dock will have four public slips for recreational boaters and one for water taxi use. Use of the docks will be free to the public and first come, first served for temporary daytime mooring. Overnight mooring is prohibited.

The dock is located four blocks away from the Five Points business district at the City parking lot at termination of Post Street on the St. Johns River between the Garden Club of Jacksonville and Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens. In addition to providing access to the Cummer and Garden Club, it will increase access to Riverside and Memorial parks and the restaurants, shops and businesses in historic Five Points.

The dock is one result of a planning process that began in late 2015 when a team of planners, scientists, geographers and engineers from the northeast Florida Regional Council, the University of North Florida and Jacksonville University held its first public meeting regarding what the Duval County Maritime Management Plan should include in December of that year. The plan was intended as a guide for the City of Jacksonville, the Town of Baldwin and the Beaches communities to protect and develop sustainable usage of the Intracoastal Waterway, the St. Johns River and their major tributaries.

“At the time, I was working at St. Johns Riverkeeper and using the Jacksonville Water Taxi for public boat tours,” said Shannon Blankinship, who is now the executive director of Riverside Avondale Preservation (RAP). “A dock that connected to Riverside is a fantastic access for tours like that, because the dock located at the Riverside Arts Market is only unlocked during RAM hours and still feels quite distant from the energy of Five Points.”

The plan’s stated goal was to improve the quality of life for all residents by maximizing opportunities for waterway access and recreation, as well as protecting commercial marine interests. The Northeast Florida Regional Council defined 12 waterway districts, with Riverside/McCoy’s Creek as one of the 12. At the time, the majority of the docks in Duval County were located on saltwater of brackish bodies of water, with few docks on freshwater systems. The plan focused on adding docks in the Downtown Jacksonville area that could serve as water taxi stops and docks for boaters who travel by water to Downtown destinations.

There was significant public interest in new kayak launches, riverwalks, boardwalks, water taxi stops and more docks, as well as general activation of the waterfront and incorporating interpretive learning opportunities related to the water throughout the urban core.

“Bob Fleckenstein, my business partner, and I got involved in meetings about the dock about five years ago,” said Jeff McCusker, general manager of the River and Post restaurant on Riverside Avenue. “It took five years to get the permit to build the dock. It took almost another year to move an AT&T line that would be underneath the dock. Then a change in state law meant that both a state as well as a local permit was needed to build the dock so that took some time.”

“You’ll be able to get off the dock and our restaurant is right there across Riverside Avenue,” McCusker said. “I would consider adding a bike, kayak and paddleboat rental business as a means for people to travel on the street after getting off the dock. It would be fun for the whole neighborhood.”

“RAP is thrilled for this new addition to our neighborhood. We hope it will invite Downtown tourists and hotel visitors to easily and safely visit Five Points without the hassle of driving or parking,” Blankinship said.

RAP is part of the Five Points Collaborative established in 2019, a group of individuals who represent the business and community organizations of the Historic Five Points area. According to its website, the group is working with Council Member Randy DeFoor, Parks and Recreation Director Darryl Joseph and Public Works Director John Pappas to improve streetscapes, wayfinding, branding and invigorating Riverside Park. The collaborative has identified the Post Street Dock Plan as needing “wayfinding or identifying streetscape to greet guests as they arrive … to improve the guest experience.”

“The Garden Club leadership sees the dock as a positive thing. It is one of the reasons we have embarked on a complete landscape redesign,” Denise Reagan, executive director of the Garden Club of Jacksonville, said. “Lots of great things are happening in the neighborhood, and we want to change along with it by presenting the best face we can. The Garden Club should be one of the spaces new visitors want to visit.”

Avondale resident and landscape architect Rick Pariani has created a conceptual design for the public parking space between the Cummer and the Garden Club with the goal of improving its appearance and making it more pedestrian friendly for people who have docked their boats at the Post Street Day Dock.

The new docks have been constructed and are in place, awaiting the official opening celebration slated for June 30
The new docks have been constructed and are in place, awaiting the official opening celebration slated for June 30

“Rick has been working with the Garden Club, Cummer and RAP’s placemaking committee since 2019 to encourage the City Council and the City to focus on improving the space between Riverside Avenue and the dock,” Reagan said. “The dock is going to be a great addition to the neighborhood, but a few improvements could make it a really fabulous experience.”

The Riverside Promenade is envisioned to be the western extension of the Northbank Riverwalk by extending a wide pedestrian walk along Riverside Avenue from the Riverside Arts Market to Memorial Park, showcasing the Cummer Museum of Arts and Gardens and the Jacksonville Garden Club along the way. Once completed, the terminus of the Northbank Riverwalk would be at Memorial Park.  

“The Post Street Promenade is envisioned as a welcome foyer to the Five Points Historic District. The Promenade will feature improved pedestrian accommodations with shady and inviting streetscaping,” said Pariani. His design includes wayfinding directionals and public art elements that will enable visitors to embark on an engaging and interpretive experience – “to discover Riverside/Avondale’s unique sense-of-place,” he said.

According to City Council member Randy DeFoor, the project is expected to cost $3,350,000 and is in the Capital Improvement Schedule for “Beyond 5”.

By Karen Rieley
Resident Community News

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