A Park RAP-up

A Park RAP-up

The Avondale Preservation Parks Committee reflects on 2023, charts the course for 2024

As 2023 drew to a close, the Riverside Avondale Preservation (RAP) Parks Committee took stock of several accomplishments in preserving and enhancing the natural beauty of our historic parks. We are also looking forward to ambitious goals for 2024.

2023 Achievements:

  • With the help of more than 250 volunteers, the committee successfully organized two park and merchant area cleanup events, tallying 200 bags of trash and 85 trees planted.
  • Beyond litter control, many park stewards look for ways to enhance neighborhood green spaces. To support this effort, the RAP Parks Committee created a “How To” guide, focusing on creating native plant gardens and beautifying the landscape around park signage. This effort received an extra boost with a $400 grant from Rose Circle Garden Club to pay for flowers and materials. 
  • At John Gorrie Dog Park, several pieces of new agility equipment were added for both large and small dogs.
  • At Boone Park North, volunteers initiated a work order for all picnic tables, benches, trash receptacles, shelters and gazebos to receive a high-pressure cleaning and fresh coat of paint. 
  • At Willowbranch Park, members of the Parks Committee are working with park users and stakeholders to improve the distressed park entrance on Sydney Street, sketching preliminary designs and working with the City of Jacksonville to add this effort to the budget.
  • Park stewards, recruited by the Parks Committee, gathered for a several informational meetings and social events on ways to improve the smaller pocket parks.
  • At RAP’s 3rd annual Garden Tour, the Park Committee members provided volunteers and expertise on creating and maintaining residential yards and gardens.
  • At the RAP House, the team collected and digitally captured historic park archives and stories for each park. Additionally, they focused on providing regular content to RAP’s social media feed to communicate the importance of historic parks to multiple generations.
man and woman smiling as girl uses tool to place trash into trash bag

2024 Goals:

  • At John Murray Forbes Park, we are working to draw attention to the incredible St. Johns River and promenade, including signage that will commemorate the Boston investor who platted the Riverside neighborhood in 1869.
  • At Peace Memorial Rose Garden Park, the “Friends of the Labyrinth” will complete its fundraising goal of raising $220,000 to build and install a world-class 40-foot stone labyrinth.
  • Identify stewards for greenspaces that are not designated parks by the City of Jacksonville. This will ensure medians and other city right of ways do not become neglected, overgrown or unofficial parking areas.
  • Create a “hidden gems” park brochure for new residents.
  • Grow the Park Steward program with additional volunteers and engagement.
  • Develop landscape plans in partnership with landscape designers and master gardeners.
  • Build a “Teen Leader” program to foster youth engagement within the historic parks.
  • We will remain active and engaged with the ongoing renovations and plans for improvements to Willow Branch Creek drainage, Riverside Park duck pond renovation, and the new construction of Artist Walk and skate park underneath the Fuller Warren Bridge, led by JaxParks.

“This committee has been instrumental in ensuring that we are actively engaged in promoting positive improvements at all of our historic parks,” said Shannon Blankinship, executive director of Riverside Avondale Preservation. “Thank you to the leaders on this committee: Pamela Telis, Alexandra Rudnik, Abby Ravichandran, Kim Clontz, Reed Hawkins, Chloe Kuhn and Nancy Powell. We are passionate about making our historic parks in Riverside Avondale even better!”

By Kim Clontz
Resident Community News

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