A look at the finalized master plan developed by the City of Jacksonville, Project for Public Spaces, and HDR, Inc. to revitalize Jacksonville's original "Central Park."
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8th to 5th Streets
The master plan illustrates John N. McPherson Park, at the SW corner of 8th & Broad Streets being converted into an entry plaza. The major change between what exists today and in the plan, is the relocation of the Duval County Health Department on the corner of 6th and Broad Streets.
The Duval County Health Department formerly referred to as the Duval County Public Health Unit was created in October 1938 and was the 16th unit in the state to become part of the state-county system. Its formation was due to the efforts of a concerned Citizen's Committee headed by Mrs. Willie Bell. The new unit was to be the companion of the already existing City of Jacksonville Health Department, created in July of 1889. Kolbein K. Waering, M.D., was selected as the first Health Officer and he was joined by seven public health nurses, two sanitarians and one clerk at the headquarters on First and Market Streets.http://www.dchd.net/aboutus.htm
Funding for the unit was shared by the Florida State Board of Health, the Board of County Commissioners, the United States Public Health Service, the Children's Bureau of Labor Department and the Works Progress Administration. The population of Duval County and Jacksonville in 1938 was approximately 176,000 people. After interim moves to 1050 Hendricks Avenue in 1945, to the County Courthouse and to 962 Main Street, the new unit began operation in its present location at 515 west Sixth Street in 1972.
If this vision one day becomes reality, this site will become park space with an open lawn for special events, a skate plaza, and basketball, bocci and volleyball courts.
Broad to Pearl Streets
The master plan calls for reconstructing both the Broad and Pearl Street bridges (both built in 1974) with a historic theme. The existing tennis courts would be rehabbed and a second set would be added. The site of a former pond would become a wetland habitat, and the existing historic ballustrades would be preserved.
Pearl to 1st Streets
Concept plans indicate the existing balustrades in Klutho Park being retained. The baseball field would be shifted to Silver Street. The most significant addition to the space would be the creation of a wetland habitat near 1st Street, and an open plaza with an interactive fountain adjacent to the Karpeles Museum.
1st to Main Streets
The plan shows pedestrian access through the JEA waterworks site and a kayak rental kiosk. Kayaking in the creek would be allowed between Laura and 6th Streets.
Main to Liberty Streets
This section of the master plan would become the most urban. Sections of Newnan and Orange Streets would be closed to automobile use and become pedestrian promenades. Redevelopment of sites, such as the Park View Inn, would integrate retail and residential uses with Confederate Park. Along Liberty Street, existing city-owned warehouses would be demolished and replaced with greenspace and basketball courts.
The Park View Pavilion project currently under development near Confederate Park.
How realistic is it to expect the Duval County Health Department to relocate from what appears to be a solid headquarters building at the corner of 6th and Broad Streets? How do the City's plans for an already funded $1 million multi-use path fit into what is shown on the vision plan? One of the future redevelopment sites along Newnan and Orange Streets will soon see a Family Dollar store rise. How can such a project be designed to promote the goals of the master plan? Bus Rapid Transit and Streetcar projects will slice through this public space before the entire master plan becomes reality. How do we make sure these projects and the plan are well integrated with one another?
As shown above, several questions on how to implement this plan remain unanswered. What do you think about the Hogans Creek Master Plan and what are some avenues that should be explored to turn Jacksonville's "central park" back into a vibrant, interactive space?
Article by Ennis Davis.