Neighborhood News

All the latest news from the neighborhoods in our coverage areas.

Rice to speak at Florida Forum

Dr. Condoleezza
Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State, will speak April 4 at 7:30 p.m. at the
Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. Rice will be speaking as part of
the Women’s Board’s 2011-2012 Florida Forum benefiting Wolfson Children’s

St. Mark’s marks 90th anniversary

St. Mark’s marks 90th anniversary

A private home on Ortega Point has grown into a flourishing neighborhood church during its 90 years, and this month the celebration begins.
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church will kick off its 90th anniversary celebration with a special 10 a.m. service on April 22. Many prominent and familiar Episcopal leaders will be in attendance, including the Right Reverend Samuel Johnson Howard, Bishop of Florida, who will preside over the service. Rector Emeritus of St. Mark’s Barnum McCarty will preach, and other former rectors are expected to be present.
As part of the service, the church will honor living members who were born in or before 1922. A reception will follow and several new buildings and areas on campus —including the renovated McRae-Winston Chapel,
St. Mark’s Green and the Lori Schiavone Commons—will be dedicated. The community is invited to attend all of the day’s events.
St. Mark’s was founded in 1914 when a small group of worshippers began meeting in an Ortega home. The group’s Sunday School Mission evolved into St. Columba’s Mission as an outgrowth of St. John’s Parish in downtown Jacksonville. In 1919, the first services were held near the present site of St. Mark’s in a former Army building. The Rev. Douglas B. Leatherbury was priest-in-charge.
By 1922, the church was organized as a parish and named St. Mark’s, and Leatherbury became its first rector.

Community Hospice, St. Vincent’s partner for Riverside facility

Construction will begin soon on a new, 10-bed hospice inpatient unit at St. Vincent’s Medical Center Riverside. Staffed and operated by Community Hospice of Northeast Florida and located on the fourth floor of St. Vincent’s Riverside, the unit is scheduled to open in early 2013.
Construction of this unit at St. Vincent’s Riverside is expected to begin in the summer of 2012. It will cost more than $1.9 million and is being funded by Community Hospice.
“Community Hospice is honored to be selected by St. Vincent’s to partner with them in developing these new services and to collaborate with their physicians and staff to help in their mission to bring comfort to patients and their families who are dealing with advanced illness,” said Susan Ponder-Stansel, president and CEO of Community Hospice. “Both our organizations share a long history of providing compassionate care to our community.”
The nearly 6,500-square-foot-facility will include 10 private patient rooms, as well as comforting, home-like amenities, a family lounge and a kitchen for use by family and visitors. The goal is to meet patients’ end-of-life care needs in an acute care setting.
“We are pleased to work with Community Hospice as our hospice provider, whose commitment to delivering excellent care complements our own values,” said St. Vincent’s HealthCare President and CEO Moody Chisholm.
Community Hospice will recruit and train an interdisciplinary team of about 13 staff to provide round-the-clock patient care at the hospice inpatient unit, including medical staff, nurses, certified nursing assistants, psychosocial specialists and chaplains.

Development spurs growth along Hendricks corridor

By Susanna P. Barton
Resident Community News

The retail cup runneth over along the north end of Hendricks Avenue, where a new brewery announced potential plans for a San Marco location. Aardwolf Brewing’s site of interest, the old tile store by the railroad tracks on the northeast side of Hendricks Avenue, is just across the street from a burgeoning retail area set to include Panera Bread and other restaurants.
The renewed developer interest in this stretch of Hendricks has local leaders raising a glass.
“It could really activate that part of Hendricks,” said District 5 City Councilwoman Lori Boyer.
She said the building, owned by local resident Zim Boulos and other partners, requires site plan changes to accommodate the pub and retail portion of the brewery. Currently, the property is zoned Industrial Light or IL. Site developers have not yet applied for the necessary planned unit development (PUD) zoning change, she said.
Aardwolf Brewing is being planned by Preben Olsen and associate Michael Payne, former brewer at Brewer’s Pizza in Orange Park. The brewery would be a tenant in the building “assuming all development issues can be favorably resolved,” indicated Erik Olsen, principal engineer with Riverside-based Olsen Associates Inc. Erik Olsen is assisting Preben, his son, through the development process.
If the site receives a PUD designation, the second step in the due diligence phase of the brewery and tap-room development would be to design and price the construction of a tap room and brewery. The third step, Olsen explained, would be to negotiate a lease. All three components would need to “fall into place before the venture is an absolute certainty.”
As part of those plans, the building’s 2,000-square-foot showroom on Hendricks would be available for lease by another entity. San Marco Station LLC, the building ownership group, is leasing the building.
Word of a pub’s interest in the area bolsters retail activity across the street at Ed Ash’s similarly named retail development, The San Marco Train Station. Plans call for a 14,000-square-foot center, and the re-emergence of Panera Bread in a new building on the 100-year-old site. The San Marco Train Station will include the main building, an outparcel and a 1,200-square-foot hexagonal building and space for 80 parking places. Developers continue to look for additional tenants to occupy space at the center. The project’s PUD still needs to get approval from the Jacksonville City Council. San Marco Preservation Society President Doug Skiles said SMPS worked with Ash to come to an agreement about the driveways, parking configuration, location of the new buildings and enhancements to the South Jacksonville Utility Building.

Temple plans first-ever Jewish festival in Jacksonville

Temple plans first-ever  Jewish festival in Jacksonville

By Susanna P. Barton
Resident Community News

Congregation Ahavath Chesed is one of the city’s oldest — if not the oldest — faith communities. Now it is making history again with plans for the city’s first-ever Jewish music and food festival.
Called Nosh & Notes, the three-day music and food event will be held April 13-15 at the temple campus, 8727 San Jose Boulevard. Local vendors will sample deli sandwiches, hot knishes and other fresh baked traditional pastries and a competition to crown a “Kugel King or Queen” will be part of the culinary fun. Organizers expect to feature food from area restaurants and caterers. Canadian Alan Goodis, a well known contemporary Jewish recording artist, will be the festival’s artist-in-residence. Local musical talent also will perform throughout the weekend.
“I tour as a Jewish musician because I love it,” said Goodis, whose style is described as refreshing and uplifting. “Being able to play Jewish music allows for me to have a more personal interaction with people than I likely would as a secular performer.”
That’s a far cry from the Yiddish songs and Klezmer, or Eastern European-style, music most people envision — and that’s just what festival organizers were looking for when they began planning the even more than a year ago. Sam Griswold, the temple’s membership and communications coordinator, was researching ideas for a redesign of the temple’s newsletter when he came across an ad for Klezmerfest in Louisville, KY.
“It was organized by a local synagogue there as their annual fundraiser and I kept it in mind, thinking ‘why can’t we do something similar?'” Griswold said. Executive Director Goldie Lansky helped massage the idea and guided Griswold to the proper individuals and committees for review and approval. The goal all along was to not limit the music portion of the festival to Yiddish style Jewish music, but to try and include both traditional and contemporary music styles.
The idea became reality and now many people from the temple have organized to bring the event to fruition. The event also will include a Tribute Dinner honoring Jo-Ellen Unger, director of education and youth at Congregation Ahavath Chesed who is leaving her post after many years of service. “A Taste of Tel Aviv” dinner in her honor will be held just prior to the festival’s Saturday evening concert. Falafel, Hummus, taboulleh, bourekas and baklava are on the menu.
“For two thousand years, Jews have been citizens of the world — both learning from and contributing to the cultures in which we lived,” Lansky said. “Modern Jewish ‘culture’ reflects this with a diversity that is unique — our goal with Nosh and Notes is to share a snapshot of Jewish food and music with the larger Jacksonville community.”
Over time, organizers hope the event will become an invaluable, familiar community event like many of the other religious and cultural festivals that occur annually around the city.
“Judaism is a religion, not a culture — the proof is the way in which Jews throughout history and from all places around the world have brought their local cultures to bear on the practice of our faith,” said Rabbi Joshua Lief. “That makes it all the more enjoyable to share Jewish food and music with our larger Jacksonville community — to share the richness of diversity and add to it in the process.”
Nosh and Notes organizers are selling tickets to the event online at

Residents scrutinize Fishweir Creek plans at first public meeting

Residents scrutinize Fishweir Creek plans at first public meeting

By Steve DiMattia
Resident Community News

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hosted its first community meeting about the proposed Big Fishweir Creek Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Project last month — an event which drew more than 80 residents of the Fishweir Creek area. The crowd assembled at Fishweir Elementary School in Avondale to learn more about the extensive environmental project and its local impact.
The project’s goal is to restore a healthy aquatic habitat in the Big Fishweir Creek ecosystem. USACE wants to dredge the creek, reusing 32,000 cubic yards of sediment for the restoration and recreation of a 2.3-acre manmade marsh island that defined the area decades ago. Dredging also will create two converging channels and deepen the creek.
Officials estimate the project’s cost to be $3.5 million with 65 percent coming from federal funds and 35 percent from the city.
“It all comes down to the cost-per-habitat-unit,” said Christyn Wiederhold, project engineer. “We want to have the best habitat that we can to put us in the running for funding to create the project.”
Corps representatives presented a PowerPoint detailing the highlights of their plan and then fielded questions during the three-hour meeting.
Most questions from the audience were about the island.
“I don’t have a problem with the dredging,” said Sally Lee, who lives near the mouth of the creek. “But can’t we use the sediment to build up other areas rather than make a $1 million island?”
Others asked if the sediment could be used to restore bulkheads around the creek. “Based on sediment analysis, the sediment is not suitable in composition for this purpose,” said Amanda Ellison, the corps’ public affairs specialist, responding to follow-up questions via email with input from project experts.
At the meeting, corps’ experts reiterated the justification of the island found in their report: “re-establish lost marsh area, provide wildlife habitat, reduce turbidity, provide littoral shelf forage for the endangered manatee and reduce restoration costs by providing on-site disposal for dredge materials.”
In a phone interview following the meeting, resident Larry Lee voiced concern that the island would block his city view. He was particularly worried about it becoming a “garbage dump” for trash and weeds.
“Who’s gong to maintain it and keep it from smelling, attracting bugs and being an eyesore?” he asked.
Ellison responded: “The island will increase velocities within the creek and around the island, therefore decreasing trash within the water body. The majority of the island will be below the water table with approximately one foot of the island visible at low tide. The city will maintain the island.”
Resident Karen Watson had similar island-related concerns going into the meeting, but left satisfied, for now, with the answers she received.
“I just want to make sure they’re considering all alternatives,” Watson said. “But I’d rather have an island than muck. I want the river to be healthy; I’m thinking longer-term than just today.”
Robert Woodard, owner of B & W Marine Construction, felt that the island was a good alternative, but shared a different concern.
“I don’t think 32,000 cubic yards of dredging is going to make a dent and using a portable cutter-suction dredge is gong to take forever,” Woodard said.
During the meeting, project manager Jim Suggs underscored the project is still in its early stages, and encouraged such feedback. It was also noted that the next phase is engineering design, so concerns about the location of the island and channels within the creek and the effect on existing properties will be addressed before the project moves forward. While some mentioned the existence of artesian wells, they are not expected to change the scope of the project.
Watson said it is about due diligence. “The most important thing for us is that we keep their feet to the fire so that they know we are concerned. It could be disastrous if they don’t do it right.”
The next meeting will be announced when a date is set. The following link shares the presentation and posters from the meeting:

FDOT ready to install new crosswalk at ‘the point’

FDOT ready  to install new crosswalk at ‘the point’

By Susanna P. Barton
Resident Community News

The Florida Department of Transportation will install a new, much anticipated pedestrian crosswalk this month at “the point”—the dodgy southern intersection of old San Jose Boulevard and Hendricks Avenue at Southside United Methodist Church.
FDOT officials said they will be issuing a work order to upgrade the pedestrian crosswalk signing and pavement markings. They anticipated the work to be complete within nine weeks of mid-March.
Spokesman Mike Goldman shared an overhead view of the crossing with more specifics of the crossing upgrade. Some of the most visual elements of the plan will be the new fluorescent yellow pedestrian crossing signs with downward pointing arrows. The first pair of signs will be placed where cars begin to veer off Hendricks Avenue to the right onto San Jose Boulevard. Another pair of signs will flank the newly striped crossing. Additionally, two more bright yellow signs will indicate it is “the state law to stop” when pedestrians are in the crosswalk.
The crossing will be hard to miss. That’s just what representatives from San Marco Preservation Society (SMPS) were hoping for when they approached FDOT about the idea late last year. Valerie Feinberg, an SMPS leader and local mother who has been involved in the neighborhood’s Safe Routes to School initiatives, helped lead the charge. Her son’s bike was struck by car in the crosswalk last year. While unhurt, her son and his experience helped bring the danger home.
District 5 City Councilwoman Lori Boyer said there is some discussion about installing a similar crossing at the south end of old San Jose Boulevard where the road feeds into State Road 13 (or San Jose Boulevard). Like the northern crossing, the southern crossing—near Watson Martial Arts—also is difficult for pedestrians and bicyclists to pass.

Community mourns Regan, loss of innocence

Community mourns Regan, loss of innocence

time last year, the community gathered at Episcopal High School to
celebrate a project near and dear to the heart of Head of School Dale
Regan — the dedication of Parks and Lastinger halls. In a sad turn of
events, the community will again convene between the two buildings to
memorialize Regan, who lost her life on March 6.

The memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on March 9 in Campion Courtyard, a pristine setting between the two halls.

Regan, who has worked at Episcopal since 1978 and served as its
Head of School for the past six years, was killed in her office this
week by former Spanish teacher Shane Schumerth. Schumerth had been
terminated earlier in the day for “failing to meet the expectations of
the school.” A statement from Episcopal said Schumerth was repeatedly
counseled for “issues associated with attendance and a lack of
timeliness in complying with the requirements of the position.” After
being fired, Schumerth returned to the school with an AK-47 hidden in a
guitar case and shot Regan multiple times in her office before killing

No students or faculty were hurt, although the school was on
lockdown for more than an hour before students were able to leave. The
school has been closed since Tuesday and is expected to reopen at the
end of spring break on March 19.

The event has been described as one of the worst tragedies in recent history to affect the community on such a level.

Regan leaves a rich legacy in the field of education and in the
community. This summer, she was named an EVE Award for Education winner
by The Florida Times-Union. She came to Episcopal as a teacher from
Sandalwood High School in 1978 and moved into the Head of School
position after many years of teaching English.

Through social media sources and other local outlets, many in the
community have expressed their love and appreciation for Regan —
recalling her smile, the way she remembered all students and for the way
she modeled professionalism, good citizenship, faith and integrity.
According to her obituary, she attended neighborhood schools Landon
Middle School and Wolfson High School before attending Florida State
University and the University of North Florida, where she received her
master’s degree. She is survived by two sons, John and Duke, as well as a
sister, Denise Hunt and her parents, Allen and Charlotte Duke.

The family requests donations be made to the Dale D. Regan Memorial Fund at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville.

Page 312 of 312« First‹ Previous310311312