RAP unveils plans for Riverside Avondale Cultural Trail

RAP’s Creative Placemaking Committee unveils the first phase of its Riverside Avondale Cultural Trail. Graphic designed by Rick Pariani. Courtesy of the RAP Creative Placemaking Committee.
RAP’s Creative Placemaking Committee unveils the first phase of its Riverside Avondale Cultural Trail. Graphic designed by Rick Pariani. Courtesy of the RAP Creative Placemaking Committee.

Treasure maps don’t always come scrawled on a weather-beaten scroll with a painted dotted line leading to a giant black X marking the spot — and treasure isn’t always a chest full of golden doubloons and precious gems.

Treasure can be cultural, historical, musical, architectural. And sometimes, the markers guiding a treasure hunter to these gems can be read on a smartphone.

Riverside Avondale Preservation’s (RAP) Creative Placemaking Committee announced the first phase of its Riverside Avondale Cultural Trail, which will allow neighbors and visitors to immerse themselves in the “rich history, scenery, culture, art and culinary delights of the Riverside Avondale Historic District.”

This first phase of the trail will connect the three points of the 5Points Historic Triangle — the Riverside Arts Market (RAM), Memorial Park and Five Points and Riverside Park —  in a 1.6-mile self-guided stroll, as shown in the graphic designed by committee member Rick Pariani. Participants will be able to use their smartphones to scan AR/QR codes installed along the trail — either directly in the sidewalk or on signage — to access information about that particular location. Featured points along this first installation of the Riverside Avondale Cultural Trail will include RAM, the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, Memorial Park, Five Points, the Post Street boat dock, the Garden Club of Jacksonville — and more.

Committee Chair Cindy Guy said the plan is to expand that trail into Avondale as well.

“With the growth of this trail, we can add stuff in the future and it can have a presence today, an experience of the past and can move into the future,” said Committee Member Lana Shuttleworth. “It has the potential for growth, it has the potential to reach all different demographics of the area, and it can animate public spaces, rejuvenate streetscapes, improve local businesses’ viabilities as well as bring a diverse people together to celebrate, aspire and be inspired. We want to be inclusive and equitable in the arts, gardens and parks district; we want to share our community in the community. Some trails connect communities, we want to connect the people with what are the resources within the community.”

The committee has been in the planning stage of this project for the last six months and is now preparing the scripts for each marker as well as designing the pathways themselves. City Councilmember Randy DeFoor (District 14) has provided funds to help launch this initiative, though Wayne Wood, local historian and historical advisor to the project, said the committee hopes to attract corporate sponsors “to interact and help make this a success.”

DeFoor said she hopes to see it one day encompass the entire city of Jackonsville.

“To create a cultural trail was a wonderful opportunity for not only the district but for Jacksonville,” she said. “…It has to start somewhere and I’m thrilled it’s starting in my district. I would love to see it expanded into Springfield. Jacksonville has a rich history and we have not in the past done a good job of celebrating it. There’s a lot of things we should be extremely proud of and start making placemaking of where historic things have occurred.”

The announcement for this trail comes on the heels of the opening of the Post Street Day Dock at the end of June, a long-awaited waterway access to the riverfront neighborhoods and ahead of the anticipated opening of the Fuller Warren shared-use path. The Post Street Day Dock features four slips free of charge for daytime public use and give people greater and quicker access from the river to these neighborhoods and, in turn, the Cultural Trail.

“Another one of the most grand elements of connection is soon to open, which is the shared-use path across the St. Johns River connecting San Marco and the Southbank right into the Northbank and Riverside Avondale Brooklyn,” said Committee Member Rick Pariani. “Those connections are really key because the idea of this cultural trail, obviously you can take the inspiration and the initiative and you can overlay it right onto San Marco and the Southbank and now you’ve got connections on both side of the river.”

There is no set launch date for the Cultural Trail, though Committee Member Perry Reynolds said they hope to roll it out as soon as possible. He added that the idea for this trail stemmed from a challenge set forth by the RAP board to “to look as deep and as far as we possibly could to see what we could do to celebrate arts in our community.”

“What the trail will do is both give people who visit us direction and depth of knowledge about where they are and what they’re doing,” he said.

By Michele Leivas
Resident Community News

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