Friday, August 29, 2014
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
 

Hemming Plaza to be Destroyed?

Looking to convert Hemming Plaza into a space that attracts people, a meeting has been called by Council members Denise Lee, Bill Gulliford, and Don Redman to discuss an ordinance to restrict card games as well as authorize the removal of benches, tables, and chairs in the park.

Published October 22, 2012 in Opinion      125 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature




Under the proposed ordinance, park visitors would not be allowed to play Chess.


Hemming Plaza Video

<a href="http://static.photobucket.com/player.swf?file=http://vid301.photobucket.com/albums/nn72/Vendingman/5d0c56d3.mp4" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://static.photobucket.com/player.swf?file=http://vid301.photobucket.com/albums/nn72/Vendingman/5d0c56d3.mp4</a>

Earlier this year, Metro Jacksonville discussion board member JeffreyS recorded his walk through Hemming Plaza.  This video provides a visual image of the park in its current state.  Will restricting card games in the park as well as authorizing the removal of benches, tables, and chairs improve the park?  

The presence of no benches, tables, and chairs at the Shell gas station at Main and Union Streets has not deterred congregating at the location.  Why do we believe spending public resources to create a similar environment will do the same and some how encourage a more diverse population to use the space?  

Do you think our Council member's efforts are on the right path or do you think it's time to take a step back and develop alternatives for the future of Hemming Plaza?


Under the proposed ordinance, benches, tables, and chairs would be removed.  However, retaining walls would remain.

Update by Ennis Davis







125 Comments

fieldafm

October 22, 2012, 10:33:21 AM
http://transformjax.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/hemming-plaza.pdf

Quote
Hemming Plaza Issue Paper
When analyzing Hemming Plaza and what should be done with this space, we feel that first it is important to distinguish it as a “Public Square” and not a park. Squares are traditionally centers of civic life in cities. They are typically used to hold festivals, events, rallies, and similar gatherings. Essentially, their purpose is social in nature. Historically, the plaza, once known as Hemming Park, has been a center of civic life and activity for Jacksonville. Therefore, we believe solutions for improving Hemming Plaza should focus on how to make it a more socially viable space and not on regulating its usage.
We are well aware of the issues with the homeless population that frequent Hemming Plaza and feel that there have been many valid points raised by the City Council Ad Hoc Committee. However, the committee should be focused on ways to bring more people to Hemming Plaza, not removing those that are already there. We cannot solve downtown Jacksonville's homeless issues by simply removing them from Hemming Plaza. Who is to say their removal from the square will not lead to worse issues with the homeless in other parts of Downtown? A separate task force or committee needs to evaluate solutions to downtown's widespread homeless and vagrancy issues.
We feel that there is an array of ideas that will reinvigorate Hemming Plaza and turn it into the center of civic and cultural life in Jacksonville. Since Hemming Plaza is one of the most important public spaces in all of Jacksonville, we hope that City Council and the Mayor's Office do not act with haste in their decision making. We believe the general public needs to be more involved in the planning process. This can be done through open public meetings, design charrettes, more detailed surveying, and interaction with the groups, organizations, and institutions that can help bring life to the square. As a group of urban planners
and advocates with the specific mission of helping revitalize Downtown Jacksonville and its surrounding neighborhoods, TransForm Jax has developed our own list of ideas and recommendations for Hemming Plaza. These are detailed below, along with some background on designing great public spaces.
Making Great Public Spaces Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is a nonprofit planning, design and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities. Founded in 1975, PPS has worked on projects in over 2,500 communities in all 50 states and 40 countries. PPS states that civic spaces are: “…an extension of the community. When they work well, they serve as a stage for our public lives. If they function in their true civic role, they can be the settings where celebrations are held, where social and economic exchanges take place, where friends run into each other, and where cultures mix. They are the “front porches” of our public institutions – post offices, courthouses, federal office buildings – where we can interact with each other and with government. When cities and neighborhoods have thriving civic spaces, residents have a strong sense of community; conversely, when such spaces are lacking, people may feel less connected to each other. Great civic spaces are really great public places. They are recognized and valued in their cities and towns as places with their own special flavor that relate to and nurture the larger community and bring the public together.”
Public squares have traditionally been the center of communities, helping define their identity. Squares are often tied to the civic buildings adjacent to them, such as churches, city halls, or libraries. PPS has identified ten principles for successful squares. They include:
1. Image and Identity
2. Attractions and Destinations
3. Amenities
4. Flexible Design
5. Seasonal Strategy
6. Access
7. The Inner Square and Outer Square
8. Reaching out like an Octopus
9. The Central Role of Management
10. Diverse Funding Sources
We believe that many of these principles are being proposed as part of City Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Hemming Plaza. However, some may be misunderstood or misrepresented.
Case Study – Houston’s Market Square Park
As part of the Ad-hoc Committee, Bryant Park in New York City was cited as an example of what could be done with Hemming Plaza. We feel that making a comparison with the lone major park space in the office district of midtown Manhattan is not appropriate. Houston’s Market Square Park may be a more suitable case study for Jacksonville to examine, especially given that the Jax Chamber visited the city in 2011 as part of its Annual Leadership Trip.
The park had been neglected and underutilized for decades, becoming little more than an open green space in downtown Houston. Stakeholders committed to “transforming it into a destination for residents and visitors.” Following a visioning process conducted by PPS in 2007, the park was rebuilt and opened to the public in 2010. The site is now bustling with an on-site café, central lawn, regular performances, shaded seating, children’s play area, a water feature, bike racks, and a dog run. But they key is programming. Market Square Park regularly hosts performances, art shows, farmers markets, movies, and even exercise classes. The park redevelopment was undertaken by Houston’s Downtown Development Authority, a worthy idea for Jacksonville to consider.
Recommendations for Hemming Plaza
Historically, Hemming Park served as the civic focal point for downtown Jacksonville. That began to change when the Landing opened in 1986, and its courtyard became the center for events and performances. TransForm Jax believes that a new vision for Hemming Plaza, that includes its role and identity, needs to be defined prior to commencing with any physical changes to the space. Included below are some ways to reinvigorate the square.
Programming, Programming, Programming
In today's digital world, where people are living more and more behind a computer screen; it is important we not lose touch with each other. Events, markets, rallies, and other social activities are excellent ways to unite people and to forge a shared identity. Basically there are two such places to hold open events in Downtown Jacksonville - Hemming Plaza and the Jacksonville Landing Courtyard. The Landing has a beautiful location on the waterfront but it is privately owned. This means that a single owner gets to determine what type of events are appropriate and may occur there. Hemming Plaza on the other hand is a public square. The City of Jacksonville, Downtown Vision, and other organizations have the ability to transform the square into a place with events and activities for citizens of all types. There are literally hundreds of programming ideas that could be implemented, from festivals and markets to concerts and movie nights.
The primary reason Hemming Plaza struggles to attract a diverse amount of users on a regular basis is because of a lack of amenities and activities to draw them there. Hemming Plaza and downtown are completely different places when events are going on. The area becomes more vibrant, more people frequent local businesses, and downtown feels like a city that’s alive and full of energy. We all have heard numerous people say, “Wow it feels like we're in a real city” during Artwalk or Jazz Fest. Why do we limit this to once a month or once a year? Why not attempt to create a vibrant downtown every day? The solution is to program Hemming Plaza with as many events and activities as possible. This will produce numerous economic and social benefits for the core of downtown.
Another benefit of programming is the “homeless problem” becomes barely noticeable in Hemming Plaza when Artwalk or other events are occurring. We suspect that many do not feel comfortable in large crowds and simply leave the area. The homeless who do stay are not nearly as noticeable amongst a large crowd.
Activate the Inner Square
Visionary park planner Frederick Law Olmstead’s idea of the “inner square” is just as relevant today as it was a century ago. Any great public square has a variety of smaller “places” within it to appeal to various people. These spaces can include outdoor cafes, fountains, sculptures, or bandshells for performances. Historically, Hemming Plaza has been home to several smaller “places” within it, including a gazebo, fountain, monuments, a comfort station, and a tourist bureau. All of these attractions combined to make the square an everyday destination.
Today, there is room to add features to the square, primarily on the west side. As we've already mentioned, we feel that programming should be the number one focus for reinvigorating Hemming Plaza. As such, it will be important to have a stage for events, concerts, plays, rallies, etc. During Jazz Fest, a stage is used in the western part of the park under the Skyway. This is an excellent spot for a stage. If programming is going to frequently occur, it is important to have either a fixed stage or one that can be easily and readily assembled. Not all events can be planned months in advance or have the financing to build a proprietary stage.
Furthermore, the terrain facing the stage area is gradually sloped making it ideal for viewing. There is also significant open space in this area, enabling it to hold large crowds. The large brick-paved area in front of the stage could be converted into a lawn space, which would allow for flexible seasonal programming as well as accessible green space in the park.
We also believe that the City should consider issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) for operating a café and/or retail kiosk in the square. Issuing an RFP offers the possibility of a use that attracts people to the space on a daily basis, being funded with private dollars while also generating long term revenue for the City. There are several potential locations in the square where this could be placed, including at the Skyway station or the northwest corner. There could even be partnerships with adjacent entity, such as UNF.
Another possible addition to the square would be the inclusion of a no-frills children’s play area. With so many families visiting the library, we would expect a play area would be heavily used. Successful play areas include flexibility for diverse activity. Rather than installing play structures that only do one thing, allow for a space that can be continually changed by those using it.
Another key is providing a variety of small spaces, with changes in levels textures, surfaces, and colors. The play area should be designed for a relatively wide age range and encourage creativity. Finally, the play area needs to be in a visible location. Assuming a food kiosk is constructed at the northwest corner, the play area could be accommodated in the southwest corner of Hemming Plaza. Alternately, the planting beds across from MOCA could be repurposed as a play area.
Finally, we recommend that the City support the development of a bike sharing program. Bike sharing systems are being installed in cities throughout the country and we believe that the urban core of Jacksonville could support a starter system. Hemming Plaza would be an ideal location for a station that would hold up to 10 bicycles.
Encourage Food Trucks and Other Vendors
Many cities, including Portland, Tampa, and Philadelphia, have found that food trucks and other temporary vendors have brought new energy and additional foot traffic to their downtowns. This affordable programming method is known as tactical urbanism. Food vendors bring activity to the street, creating a festive atmosphere that improves public safety. The north side of Hemming Plaza (along Duval Street) would be an ideal location for food trucks. We understand the concern of “brick and mortar” establishments that food trucks might siphon off some of their business, so full-time installations would need to be explored in more detail. But regular rallies, perhaps on Saturdays, that bring more people to the area could be ideal. For example, the City of Tampa hosts the monthly Mayor’s Food Truck Fiesta, where trucks locate next to one of the downtown parks. Interestingly, many merchants see increased business on the food truck days.
Do Not Remove Trees from Hemming Plaza
Downtown Jacksonville often feels like a heat island, with little greenery and shade. The trees at Hemming Plaza are one of the unique aspects of the space and help cool the downtown area, as well as offer shade on a hot summer day. The trees absolutely should not be removed for perceived public safety reasons. If trees are removed from the square in order to empty the homeless from the square, doesn’t everyone else suffer? In essence, doesn’t the space become less desirable for the “desirables”?
We could probably come up with a multitude of reasons not to remove the trees from the square, but we hope that City Council and the Mayor's Office realize that the court of public opinion appears to be strongly against removing the trees. Additionally, if the justification for tree removal is that some are “unhealthy”, then multiple arborists should be asked to give their expert opinion on the matter. Furthermore, we hope that any trees removed are replaced by healthy trees to protect the Plaza’s unique urban canopy.
Have the Police Actually Police
There is a constant JSO presence at Hemming Plaza, but where are the police? The JSO cannot possibly monitor the goings on of the square if they are perceived as being physically disconnected from what is happening in the community around them. Officers sequestered in their squad cars on the Monroe Street sidewalk doesn’t convey the right message, and instead more downtown-appropriate foot and bicycle patrols should be utilized. More officers within the plaza itself and interacting with its visitors is preferable to having police monitoring video camera feeds from a remote location.
Closing
As stated earlier, TransForm Jax believes that the primary identity for Hemming Plaza needs to be further defined prior to commencing with any physical changes to the space. The addition of regular programming will go much farther in creating a vibrant space than any single redevelopment strategy. Nonetheless, there is room for adding some physical elements to the square, such as a stage, food kiosk, and a children’s play area. Moreover, it is important to note that some of our recommendations can be revenue generators. Rents and fees paid by vendors can be used to support programming and other improvements. Finally, we are concerned that the initial reactions to the homeless and vagrant problems in Hemming Plaza will do more harm than good. Removing trees will just make the overall space less desirable for everyone. TransForm Jax hopes that the City will take the time to engage in a holistic visioning process for Hemming Plaza (the internal square) and the surrounding area (the outer square) prior to making any major changes.
Wiatt Bowers, AICP
Ennis Davis
Mike Field
Aaron Glick, LEED AP
Jeremy Hubsch

Bridges

October 22, 2012, 10:36:12 AM
Where are DVI and DIA on this?

fieldafm

October 22, 2012, 10:40:35 AM
Houston's Market Square is almost a 100% identical model to Hemming Plaza.

They went from this:





To this:




















fieldafm

October 22, 2012, 10:48:34 AM
Cincinnati's Washington Park just underwent a similar transition:












[/img]











thelakelander

October 22, 2012, 10:50:33 AM
Cool.  I didn't realize that Washington Square Park had reopened.  It was still under construction when I visited the city in June.  It will be a stop along the modern streetcar line the city is planning to construct.  Now that was a space you didn't want to walk through, a couple of years ago.  Hemming has nothing on the what Washington Square and the Over-The-Rhine neighborhood surrounding it, used to be.

stephendare

October 22, 2012, 10:56:21 AM
Cool.  I didn't realize that Washington Square Park had reopened.  It was still under construction when I visited the city in June.  It will be a stop along the modern streetcar line the city is planning to construct.  Now that was a space you didn't want to walk through, a couple of years ago.  Hemming has nothing on the what Washington Square and the Over-The-Rhine neighborhood surrounding it, used to be.

No kidding. Although I have spent some very amusing and wondeful times in both that park and Over the Rhine.  The park isnt that far from the Contemporary Art Center, and it is very very similar to Hemming Park in how it fits into the city.

jcjohnpaint

October 22, 2012, 11:06:09 AM
It keeps getting better every day.  I think we need to think about getting rid of some council members instead of some benches. 

Overstreet

October 22, 2012, 11:15:32 AM
Let me get this straight. People are using the park.  They're  just not the right people?

thelakelander

October 22, 2012, 11:20:37 AM
Pretty much.

Debbie Thompson

October 22, 2012, 11:57:47 AM
The meeting is during work hours.  Assuming someone who can attend will bring these pictures and the info about the square in Houston.

Doctor_K

October 22, 2012, 12:03:49 PM
I really wish that, during the public input portion of the meeting, someone would actually challenge them on the whole "the wrong kind of people" and make them publicly state who they feel are the "right kind of people" to be allowed to use this public space.

Make them make their response publicly known and on-record.

Then blog, tweet, and Facebook the shit out of it.

Nothing stirs public awareness and outrage quite like social media and citizen journalism.

(outside the confines of this fine site, of course)

fsujax

October 22, 2012, 12:06:54 PM
Just program the darned thing. How hard can it be? It looks to me the examples being shown above show programming is taking place.

vicupstate

October 22, 2012, 12:31:20 PM
Wouldn't it be easier and cheaper just to put those 'pigeon spikes' that you see on building ledges, on all the chairs and tables in Hemming?   It makes just as much sense, and would accomplish the same thing.

MEGATRON

October 22, 2012, 12:32:36 PM
Let me get this straight. People are using the park.  They're  just not the right people?
Yep, and I agree with the sentiment.

fsquid

October 22, 2012, 12:40:04 PM
Let me get this straight. People are using the park.  They're  just not the right people?

seems like it

Doctor_K

October 22, 2012, 12:47:55 PM
Let me get this straight. People are using the park.  They're  just not the right people?
Yep, and I agree with the sentiment.
And who, in your mind, are the "right" people to use this space?

MEGATRON

October 22, 2012, 01:03:26 PM
Let me get this straight. People are using the park.  They're  just not the right people?
Yep, and I agree with the sentiment.
And who, in your mind, are the "right" people to use this space?
Anyone but homeless people.

thelakelander

October 22, 2012, 01:07:49 PM
How do we know that everyone using the park is homeless?

MEGATRON

October 22, 2012, 01:09:23 PM
How do we know that everyone using the park is homeless?
Not everyone but, when I visit, the majority certainly appear to be homeless.  Would you disagree?

Captain Zissou

October 22, 2012, 01:18:33 PM
How do we know that everyone using the park is homeless?
Not everyone but, when I visit, the majority certainly appear to be homeless.  Would you disagree?

I am often told that I 'appear to be homeless', but it's actually quite the contrary.  I am gainfully employed and I live in Avondale, but I have an affinity for old jeans and hoodies and a great distaste for combing my hair.  I hope you and your enforcers will let me enter the park.  I swear I won't do anything insidious like play a game of Go Fish.

Josh

October 22, 2012, 01:19:21 PM
Let me get this straight. People are using the park.  They're  just not the right people?
Yep, and I agree with the sentiment.
And who, in your mind, are the "right" people to use this space?

According to Councilman Redman, the "right" people are those that are not "intimidating." Pretty sad.

thelakelander

October 22, 2012, 01:20:18 PM
How do we know that everyone using the park is homeless?
Not everyone but, when I visit, the majority certainly appear to be homeless.  Would you disagree?

I don't know.  To be honest, when I pass through, I rarely stare at anyone long enough or ask them if they are homeless or not.  Unless, some one is there with a buggy and all of their belongings, I think it's pretty difficult to come to that conclusion. Nevertheless, its a public park.  Are we now saying you must be employed and own a house to be able to visit a public park?

JeffreyS

October 22, 2012, 01:23:03 PM
Where is the Jacksonville historical society on this?  You know how get how city leaders could make a bad decision on transit based on transits price and public ignorance on the subject.  I do not get how some of our leaders can be so dumb to as to think if you destroy it they will come(and only the people we don't want will go).

MEGATRON

October 22, 2012, 01:25:56 PM
How do we know that everyone using the park is homeless?
Not everyone but, when I visit, the majority certainly appear to be homeless.  Would you disagree?

I don't know.  To be honest, when I pass through, I rarely stare at anyone long enough or ask them if they are homeless or not.  Unless, some one is there with a buggy and all of their belongings, I think it's pretty difficult to come to that conclusion. Nevertheless, its a public park.  Are we now saying you must be employed and own a house to be able to visit a public park?
No, I'm not saying that at all.  However, I have long said that downtown Jacksonville will only become what we all want it to become once the homeless problem is solved.  I don't pretend to have that answer but its the absolute truth and I hate that people in Jacksonville ignore that as a major hindrance to downtown development (at least its not given the proper weight IMO).

thelakelander

October 22, 2012, 02:07:50 PM
Count me in as a part of the crowd that believes downtown's failures have little to nothing to do with the homeless.  It's just much easier to pick on the lowest common denominator than to address the larger elephant in the room.  Downtown's problem is we've ripped apart its economic structure.  It will continue to falter until we strengthen its connectivity with the surrounding neighborhoods, facilitate natural market rate revitalization and implement pedestrian scale strategies that encourage walkability.  Considering that homeless are also people, strategies that de-humanify public spaces only result in completely empty public spaces.

However, fixing Hemming isn't complicated.  It originally worked because it had uses that opened up and integrated with it on all four sides.  Now we've gone from grand hotels and department stores to a public offices with limited operating hours and access points.  We've also replaced it, in terms of programming, with the Landing's courtyard.  Nevertheless, visit the park during Art Walk or an event like Go Skate Day.  The homeless, benches, and mean old chess gangsters aren't a problem then.

Thus, fixing a space like Hemming, doesn't mean removing amenities in an effort to run off people some don't like. You simply have to add things that attract a diverse amount of users on an around-the-clock basis.  That means programming, not only the park itself but better utilizing the spaces surrounding it. San Diego's Gaslamp District is a great example.  Their homeless are still there (resolving homelessness isn't going to occur only at the local level) but there's so many people on those streets, you rarely notice them. 

sheclown

October 22, 2012, 02:12:59 PM
Count me in as a part of the crowd that believes downtown's failures have little to nothing to do with the homeless.  It's just much easier to pick on the lowest common denominator than to address the larger elephant in the room.  Downtown's problem is we've ripped apart its economic structure.  It will continue to falter until we strengthen its connectivity with the surrounding neighborhoods, facilitate natural market rate revitalization and implement pedestrian scale strategies that encourage walkability.  Considering that homeless are also people, strategies that de-humanify public spaces only result in completely empty public spaces.

However, fixing Hemming isn't complicated.  It originally worked because it had uses that opened up and integrated with it on all four sides.  Now we've gone from grand hotels and department stores to a public offices with limited operating hours and access points.  We've also replaced it, in terms of programming, with the Landing's courtyard.  Nevertheless, visit the park during Art Walk or an event like Go Skate Day.  The homeless, benches, and mean old chess gangsters aren't a problem then.

Thus, fixing a space like Hemming, doesn't mean removing amenities in an effort to run off people some don't like. You simply have to add things that attract a diverse amount of users on an around-the-clock basis.  That means programming, not only the park itself but better utilizing the spaces surrounding it. San Diego's Gaslamp District is a great example.  Their homeless are still there (resolving homelessness isn't going to occur only at the local level) but there's so many people on those streets, you rarely notice them. 

clapping my hands wildly in response.

urbaknight

October 22, 2012, 02:19:31 PM
According to the video in the article, there are lots of different types of people in the park. I saw families, downtown employees, some homeless, passers by etc. The place seemed vibrant to me. I myself pass through almost everyday. However I'm pretty near sighted, so I don't look at anyone enough to see who they are. They might think I'm some kind of weirdo or something if I'm caught staring.

Hey didn't they do a survey a few months ago? Yeah they did. I remember because I took part. And didn't like 90% say they disagree with what they're trying to do? Has democracy failed in Jacksonville?

thelakelander

October 22, 2012, 02:38:55 PM
It appears democracy has or is failing.

stephendare

October 22, 2012, 02:44:40 PM
Interesting that Megatron started posting at about the exact same time that BigGuy disappeared.

johnny_simpatico

October 22, 2012, 03:01:59 PM
Thanks for a great analysis. 

Downtown continues to head in the wrong direction by building MORE massive parking facilities near the river and by leveling buildings that contributed to the landscape (even if they were not occupied).  The trend is to develop a scale and environment favorable to automobiles and unappealing to pedestrians. Large barriers exist between downtown and every adjoining neighborhood.  The river of course is a large natural barrier, but the virtual expressway represented by the one-way State and Union Streets could be made more human.  (Why on earth would they locate the main bus transfer station in that hideous place?)
Count me in as a part of the crowd that believes downtown's failures have little to nothing to do with the homeless.  It's just much easier to pick on the lowest common denominator than to address the larger elephant in the room.  Downtown's problem is we've ripped apart its economic structure.  It will continue to falter until we strengthen its connectivity with the surrounding neighborhoods, facilitate natural market rate revitalization and implement pedestrian scale strategies that encourage walkability.  Considering that homeless are also people, strategies that de-humanify public spaces only result in completely empty public spaces.

However, fixing Hemming isn't complicated.  It originally worked because it had uses that opened up and integrated with it on all four sides.  Now we've gone from grand hotels and department stores to a public offices with limited operating hours and access points.  We've also replaced it, in terms of programming, with the Landing's courtyard.  Nevertheless, visit the park during Art Walk or an event like Go Skate Day.  The homeless, benches, and mean old chess gangsters aren't a problem then.

Thus, fixing a space like Hemming, doesn't mean removing amenities in an effort to run off people some don't like. You simply have to add things that attract a diverse amount of users on an around-the-clock basis.  That means programming, not only the park itself but better utilizing the spaces surrounding it. San Diego's Gaslamp District is a great example.  Their homeless are still there (resolving homelessness isn't going to occur only at the local level) but there's so many people on those streets, you rarely notice them. 

clapping my hands wildly in response.
[/quote]

MEGATRON

October 22, 2012, 03:05:58 PM
Interesting that Megatron started posting at about the exact same time that BigGuy disappeared.
Sorry, to disappoint, but I don't know who that is.

MEGATRON

October 22, 2012, 03:07:40 PM
Count me in as a part of the crowd that believes downtown's failures have little to nothing to do with the homeless.  It's just much easier to pick on the lowest common denominator than to address the larger elephant in the room.  Downtown's problem is we've ripped apart its economic structure.  It will continue to falter until we strengthen its connectivity with the surrounding neighborhoods, facilitate natural market rate revitalization and implement pedestrian scale strategies that encourage walkability.  Considering that homeless are also people, strategies that de-humanify public spaces only result in completely empty public spaces.

However, fixing Hemming isn't complicated.  It originally worked because it had uses that opened up and integrated with it on all four sides.  Now we've gone from grand hotels and department stores to a public offices with limited operating hours and access points.  We've also replaced it, in terms of programming, with the Landing's courtyard.  Nevertheless, visit the park during Art Walk or an event like Go Skate Day.  The homeless, benches, and mean old chess gangsters aren't a problem then.

Thus, fixing a space like Hemming, doesn't mean removing amenities in an effort to run off people some don't like. You simply have to add things that attract a diverse amount of users on an around-the-clock basis.  That means programming, not only the park itself but better utilizing the spaces surrounding it. San Diego's Gaslamp District is a great example.  Their homeless are still there (resolving homelessness isn't going to occur only at the local level) but there's so many people on those streets, you rarely notice them.
You may very well be right, Lake.  However, I think there happens to be a population on this message board that, quite frankly, has little to no problem eating their lunch next to a homeless person in Hemming Plaza.  That population is the minority IMO.

Jdog

October 22, 2012, 03:18:07 PM
Count me in as a part of the crowd that believes downtown's failures have little to nothing to do with the homeless.  It's just much easier to pick on the lowest common denominator than to address the larger elephant in the room.  Downtown's problem is we've ripped apart its economic structure.  It will continue to falter until we strengthen its connectivity with the surrounding neighborhoods, facilitate natural market rate revitalization and implement pedestrian scale strategies that encourage walkability.  Considering that homeless are also people, strategies that de-humanify public spaces only result in completely empty public spaces.

However, fixing Hemming isn't complicated.  It originally worked because it had uses that opened up and integrated with it on all four sides.  Now we've gone from grand hotels and department stores to a public offices with limited operating hours and access points.  We've also replaced it, in terms of programming, with the Landing's courtyard.  Nevertheless, visit the park during Art Walk or an event like Go Skate Day.  The homeless, benches, and mean old chess gangsters aren't a problem then.

Thus, fixing a space like Hemming, doesn't mean removing amenities in an effort to run off people some don't like. You simply have to add things that attract a diverse amount of users on an around-the-clock basis.  That means programming, not only the park itself but better utilizing the spaces surrounding it. San Diego's Gaslamp District is a great example.  Their homeless are still there (resolving homelessness isn't going to occur only at the local level) but there's so many people on those streets, you rarely notice them. 

clapping my hands wildly in response.

More clapping. 

urbaknight

October 22, 2012, 03:24:41 PM
A chess tournament would be a cheap and easy event to put on, I'd enter.

stephendare

October 22, 2012, 03:46:36 PM
Count me in as a part of the crowd that believes downtown's failures have little to nothing to do with the homeless.  It's just much easier to pick on the lowest common denominator than to address the larger elephant in the room.  Downtown's problem is we've ripped apart its economic structure.  It will continue to falter until we strengthen its connectivity with the surrounding neighborhoods, facilitate natural market rate revitalization and implement pedestrian scale strategies that encourage walkability.  Considering that homeless are also people, strategies that de-humanify public spaces only result in completely empty public spaces.

However, fixing Hemming isn't complicated.  It originally worked because it had uses that opened up and integrated with it on all four sides.  Now we've gone from grand hotels and department stores to a public offices with limited operating hours and access points.  We've also replaced it, in terms of programming, with the Landing's courtyard.  Nevertheless, visit the park during Art Walk or an event like Go Skate Day.  The homeless, benches, and mean old chess gangsters aren't a problem then.

Thus, fixing a space like Hemming, doesn't mean removing amenities in an effort to run off people some don't like. You simply have to add things that attract a diverse amount of users on an around-the-clock basis.  That means programming, not only the park itself but better utilizing the spaces surrounding it. San Diego's Gaslamp District is a great example.  Their homeless are still there (resolving homelessness isn't going to occur only at the local level) but there's so many people on those streets, you rarely notice them.
You may very well be right, Lake.  However, I think there happens to be a population on this message board that, quite frankly, has little to no problem eating their lunch next to a homeless person in Hemming Plaza.  That population is the minority IMO.

And one supposes that one meets a lot of people who prefer to ski in Alpine resorts.  Its definitely a minority of the population, but then again, they are the type who go to ski resorts, arent they?

Bill Hoff

October 22, 2012, 04:17:12 PM
Banning games is ridiculous. The guys playing chess are NOT the problem. It's the people yelling at bystanders, approaching bystanders, and acting in a disruptive way.

But, removing the fixed seating isn't necessarily a bad idea. If movable seating is set out daily and / or for programming then it'd be fine. It would make the space that much more flexible, and movable seating is actually more user friendly than fixed seating.

Leave the trees & valuable canopy, add better landscaping, add in expensive programming, and give the homeless an incentive/better location to spend their time during the day and POW, there ya go.

I say we stage a RISK convention in Hemming Plaza....that game lasts all day & night.

thelakelander

October 22, 2012, 04:46:35 PM
You may very well be right, Lake.  However, I think there happens to be a population on this message board that, quite frankly, has little to no problem eating their lunch next to a homeless person in Hemming Plaza.  That population is the minority IMO.

Or perhaps the real answer is there is no reason for someone to eat their lunch in the park.  Personally speaking, I worked a block away from Hemming and never ate lunch in it or any other downtown park for two years.  Quite frankly, I had no reason to.  I either ate at a restaurant or at my office desk (where I could play on MJ for the full the hour).  I did hit up a few food trucks earlier this year, but I ended up eating those lunches in my truck where I could listen to sports radio for 30 minutes.  If you want people eating lunch in the park, stick a food truck or two in there for free instead of paying someone to cut down trees, enforce a card game ban, and remove chairs.

MEGATRON

October 22, 2012, 04:47:09 PM
Count me in as a part of the crowd that believes downtown's failures have little to nothing to do with the homeless.  It's just much easier to pick on the lowest common denominator than to address the larger elephant in the room.  Downtown's problem is we've ripped apart its economic structure.  It will continue to falter until we strengthen its connectivity with the surrounding neighborhoods, facilitate natural market rate revitalization and implement pedestrian scale strategies that encourage walkability.  Considering that homeless are also people, strategies that de-humanify public spaces only result in completely empty public spaces.

However, fixing Hemming isn't complicated.  It originally worked because it had uses that opened up and integrated with it on all four sides.  Now we've gone from grand hotels and department stores to a public offices with limited operating hours and access points.  We've also replaced it, in terms of programming, with the Landing's courtyard.  Nevertheless, visit the park during Art Walk or an event like Go Skate Day.  The homeless, benches, and mean old chess gangsters aren't a problem then.

Thus, fixing a space like Hemming, doesn't mean removing amenities in an effort to run off people some don't like. You simply have to add things that attract a diverse amount of users on an around-the-clock basis.  That means programming, not only the park itself but better utilizing the spaces surrounding it. San Diego's Gaslamp District is a great example.  Their homeless are still there (resolving homelessness isn't going to occur only at the local level) but there's so many people on those streets, you rarely notice them.
You may very well be right, Lake.  However, I think there happens to be a population on this message board that, quite frankly, has little to no problem eating their lunch next to a homeless person in Hemming Plaza.  That population is the minority IMO.

And one supposes that one meets a lot of people who prefer to ski in Alpine resorts.  Its definitely a minority of the population, but then again, they are the type who go to ski resorts, arent they?
You can disagree if you want to, but I work downtown and most all my coworkers would not eat in Hemming Park.  If you want it to succeed, it has to appeal to a broader spectrum of folks than those on this message board. 

thelakelander

October 22, 2012, 04:48:15 PM
^Programming is what appeals to a broader spectrum.  Creating a pedestrian hostile place doesn't appeal to anyone.

stephendare

October 22, 2012, 04:50:53 PM
For the record, DVI is mostly on the side of goodness and light when it comes to this issue.

They just sent us an email asking us to remember the presentation that they prepared for best practices---and a link to their website discussion of it here:  http://downtownjacksonville.org/blog/2012/10/22/hemming-plaza-applying-best-practices-to-jacksonvilles-downtown-plaza/

as you will see, they recommend taking out the seating and replacing it with labor intensive portable seating and removable tables and chairs.

Dog Walker

October 22, 2012, 04:54:19 PM
We sat in Hemming Plaza for about thirty minutes yesterday evening waiting for a 5:30 dinner time appointment.  We saw a couple of really intense chess games with spectators and a great, enthusiastic dominoes game that was being enjoyed by everyone within earshot.  Best one I've seen since living in Tampa.

Nobody was disturbing us or each other.  Lots of litter around that needed picking up.

strider

October 22, 2012, 05:57:12 PM
We sat in Hemming Plaza for about thirty minutes yesterday evening waiting for a 5:30 dinner time appointment.  We saw a couple of really intense chess games with spectators and a great, enthusiastic dominoes game that was being enjoyed by everyone within earshot.  Best one I've seen since living in Tampa.

Nobody was disturbing us or each other.  Lots of litter around that needed picking up.

So, perhaps we take the funding these so called "representatives" of ours want to waste and hire a few people to pick up the trash more often?

The truth is even Redman, Daniels and the other one are simply responding to their own fears.  And some unknown others who are even more fearful of the homeless are backing their play.  FEAR.  Not what to base laws and policy on, though there are indeed many laws that are fear based.  Doesn't make it the best or the right thing to do.

By not being afraid, people like JefferyS makes the "Walk of death" video that shows Hemming Plaza being exactly what it should be, a social place.  By not being afraid, Dogwalker sits in the plaza and gets to see a little interesting slice of life being played out.  By being very afraid, Megatron misses out on it all.  SO do many more who can't get past their fear and just take that walk.

There is nothing wrong with Hemming Plaza. It is Downtown that ails and only time and common sense help to commercial development will heel it.

stephendare

October 22, 2012, 05:59:25 PM
unfortunately you will appeal to a far smaller sample of jax residents that the couple of hundred thousand readers of this website, megatron if you destroy all the public amenities.

Perhaps your friends don't like poor people, but they will certainly not like them any more in an uncomfortable, hot, chairless environment.  To believe otherwise requires a pretty gigantic leap of faith.

MEGATRON

October 22, 2012, 06:01:33 PM

By not being afraid, people like JefferyS makes the "Walk of death" video that shows Hemming Plaza being exactly what it should be, a social place.  By not being afraid, Dogwalker sits in the plaza and gets to see a little interesting slice of life being played out.  By being very afraid, Megatron misses out on it all.  SO do many more who can't get past their fear and just take that walk.

Or, you can be realistic.  Shape it and work it how you want.  However, if you want to attract people to downtown, you are going to have to appeal to a broader audience than Dogwalker and JefferyS.  Would you not agree?

MEGATRON

October 22, 2012, 06:03:44 PM
unfortunately you will appeal to a far smaller sample of jax residents that the couple of hundred thousand readers of this website, megatron if you destroy all the public amenities.

Perhaps your friends don't like poor people, but they will certainly not like them any more in an uncomfortable, hot, chairless environment.  To believe otherwise requires a pretty gigantic leap of faith.
Don't get me confused with the crowd that wants to tear out the seating.  I am not in that boat.  I just wanted to see the City being proactive about moving the homeless away from downtown.

And, Stephen, love the website and, for good reason, you are very proud of it, but couple hundred thousand??? 

stephendare

October 22, 2012, 07:12:47 PM
unfortunately you will appeal to a far smaller sample of jax residents that the couple of hundred thousand readers of this website, megatron if you destroy all the public amenities.

Perhaps your friends don't like poor people, but they will certainly not like them any more in an uncomfortable, hot, chairless environment.  To believe otherwise requires a pretty gigantic leap of faith.
Don't get me confused with the crowd that wants to tear out the seating.  I am not in that boat.  I just wanted to see the City being proactive about moving the homeless away from downtown.

And, Stephen, love the website and, for good reason, you are very proud of it, but couple hundred thousand???

actually its a bit more, and thanks!  Our numbers in from April register over 500k unique visitors.  MJ's readership has grown much larger than any of us anticipated.

I think the city should have been proactive when Wanda Lanier tried to solve this problem 10years ago, so we definitely agree on that issue!

Ralph W

October 22, 2012, 09:01:37 PM
It seems to me that if the few chess and/or card players and the others who may or may not be homeless are taking up all the available seating and tables, leaving none for the anointed, there should be additional seating and tables installed.

If there are real problems with the people currently perceived to be hogging all the space or intimidating the sheeple then the police need to be on foot and in the park to tone down the threat. There is no law on the books making fun and games illegal. At least not yet. That's a can of worms I would think our council reps would want to keep closed.

Coolyfett

October 22, 2012, 09:36:07 PM
For the record, DVI is mostly on the side of goodness and light when it comes to this issue.

They just sent us an email asking us to remember the presentation that they prepared for best practices---and a link to their website discussion of it here:  http://downtownjacksonville.org/blog/2012/10/22/hemming-plaza-applying-best-practices-to-jacksonvilles-downtown-plaza/

as you will see, they recommend taking out the seating and replacing it with labor intensive portable seating and removable tables and chairs.

They used to do that down in Atlanta at this place called Woodruff park near Underground. Seats were in place at 7am & gone at like 9pm

MEGATRON

October 22, 2012, 09:56:37 PM
unfortunately you will appeal to a far smaller sample of jax residents that the couple of hundred thousand readers of this website, megatron if you destroy all the public amenities.

Perhaps your friends don't like poor people, but they will certainly not like them any more in an uncomfortable, hot, chairless environment.  To believe otherwise requires a pretty gigantic leap of faith.
Don't get me confused with the crowd that wants to tear out the seating.  I am not in that boat.  I just wanted to see the City being proactive about moving the homeless away from downtown.

And, Stephen, love the website and, for good reason, you are very proud of it, but couple hundred thousand???

actually its a bit more, and thanks!  Our numbers in from April register over 500k unique visitors.  MJ's readership has grown much larger than any of us anticipated.

I think the city should have been proactive when Wanda Lanier tried to solve this problem 10years ago, so we definitely agree on that issue!
That's fantastic. Congrats!

tufsu1

October 22, 2012, 10:44:19 PM
Cool.  I didn't realize that Washington Square Park had reopened.  It was still under construction when I visited the city in June.

yep...it opened a few weeks before I visited in early August

ronchamblin

October 23, 2012, 03:59:17 AM
Thank goodness most of us on this forum agree with the idea of keeping the tables and benches in the park, and too, keeping as much as possible, the oak trees.  And to ban the ability to play games and cards in the park is seen by most as being a desperate move, but a stupid move.  There are better ways to resolve any problems with the park other than destroying the essence of it.

This being said, I’ve always wondered about any “real” motives for suggesting the removal of the amenities at the park, that is, by those who suggest doing so.  Does any of this have to do with ideas of white hegemony, with racial prejudices?  Is any of this related to the fact that we have in the city core, only two blocks away, one of the largest Baptist churches in the nation?  I’ve never been in the church, thank goodness, as I cannot live a lie, but if the church is not all white, is there a covert wish by many within it, that it was?

Are too many of the decisions made in our city, the ones which defy understanding by sensible folk, the ones which allow many of us to suspect hidden controlling entities, made by a group which covertly pulls a great many of the significant strings?  And are these individuals partly responsible for the city’s relative stagnation over the decades?

If there is a pressure toward stagnation, a desire for it, why would anyone desire it?  Or is it that the stagnation is a consequence of some other necessity, which must be accomplished for some reason by those pulling the strings?  And is the other necessity that of gaining and maintaining personal wealth and power, or religious impact upon the population of sinners?

Are there selfish individuals who will sacrifice the economic well-being within the city, who will sacrifice a strong vibrant city, who will allow for the jobless to remain so, so that they can establish and secure their personal wealth or power, or religious comfort?  Will some wish to trash the park for their own self-interests? 

Or is the issue more of a religious one?  After all, we should all be aware of the extremes to which religious zealots will go, if they “believe” that a particular god is on their side, and that the god desires or promotes some condition or action.  Given the great power of religious conviction, a power allowing some to achieve a quite confident position, readying them to do their god’s will, allows us to understand how they can make decisions causing the rest of us to question their sanity.  History is strewn with unique and powerful religious beliefs which have produced the most amazing and sometimes destructive behaviors, leaving the sensible and rational to run for safety until the religious, by some miracle, realize their absurdities, or simply have nothing more they wish to destroy, or no more witches to burn.   
 
But I digress.  Given the decades of relative stagnation in our city, our failure to achieve core revitalization, allows me to suspect that there might be a consistent, perhaps subtle, but powerful and successful, force or cause which allows for, and permits, the lack of progress.  And I suspect that if the lack of progress is not desired directly by anyone, or any group, then it must be an unfortunate consequence, a byproduct, although without intent, of the process or effort of the wealthy, the powerful, or the religious, to maintain their positions of stability and privilege in the status quo. 

Some might call the above scenario the “good old boy” syndrome of perpetual stagnation.  Wealth, power, and religion, when grouped together, can be a powerful force, and those within the citadel of power seek only to maintain the strength of it, by whatever means, even at the expense all things good and needed for the average citizen, or the city core.   

   
 
 

Overstreet

October 23, 2012, 07:39:51 AM
I think First Baptist Church is so big that someone involved will likely be a member of FBC but to think the church  wants to chase the homeless out of Hemming is excercising your own fears, paranoia and conspiracy fobias. 

Ever since I moved here in the 80s the city has been fooling around with Hemming Plaza .................to make downtown better.  It qualifies as green space comparitively....people use it legally. I say leave it alone.

One thing I've noticed it that there are always homeless and poor. Numbers flux a little, but they are always somewhere. We have them in Mandarin.  Sure be charitable but work on problems that can be fixed. If you want more middle class downtown it isn't Hemming Plaza that has to change. 

ronchamblin

October 23, 2012, 08:32:43 AM
I think First Baptist Church is so big that someone involved will likely be a member of FBC but to think the church  wants to chase the homeless out of Hemming is exercising your own fears, paranoia and conspiracy phobias. 

Ever since I moved here in the 80s the city has been fooling around with Hemming Plaza .................to make downtown better.  It qualifies as green space comparatively....people use it legally. I say leave it alone.

One thing I've noticed it that there are always homeless and poor. Numbers flux a little, but they are always somewhere. We have them in Mandarin.  Sure be charitable but work on problems that can be fixed. If you want more middle class downtown it isn't Hemming Plaza that has to change. 

Not inclined to carelessly fabricate or fear conspiracies necessarily.  But I'm grabbing at straws to understand what is going on, and therefore am throwing out possibilities.  The probabilities associated with the possibilities are the questions some might offer advice upon.

When you say, "leave the park alone", I agree wholeheartedly. 

Agree on your last statement.  It's much more than Hemming.  My point is that there must be something subtle, perhaps two or three things, but powerful enough to have caused over decades, and to continue to suppress to this day, the solid movement of Jax's core to one of vibrancy economic power.  Until we discover, recognize, and address those factors...... apparently we've not done so yet.... there seems to be little hope for forward motion.  Does it have anything to do with the FBC?  I don't know.  Is it possible for FBC to have some affect on the situation?  Of course.  But to what degree?  I don't know.  Zero perhaps.  Or is it 30 or 40 percent? 

The point is that I think the real cause or causes must be found and addressed.  I've been offering possibilities, things which might have been overlooked so far.  Are any of them highly probable causes?  Don't know at this point.

John P

October 23, 2012, 08:57:18 AM
It is fine to take things way like games and tables but what are they going to ADD? That is the question. You cannot take away things until tthe park becomes what you want it to. You have to add value to workers, residents, and visitors.

thelakelander

October 23, 2012, 08:59:59 AM
It's much more that Hemming.  My point is that there must be something subtle, perhaps two or three things, but powerful enough to have caused over decades, and to continue to suppress to this day, the solid movement of Jax's core to one of vibrancy economic power.  Until we discover, recognize, and address those factors...... apparently we've not done so yet.... there seems to be little hope for forward motion.  Does it have anything to do with the FBC?  I don't know.  Is it possible for FBC to have some affect on the sitiation?  Of course.  But to what degree?  I don't know.  Zero perhaps.  Or is it 30 or 40 percent? 

The point is that I think the real cause or causes must be found and addressed.  I've been offering possibilities, things which might have been overlooked so far.  Are any of the highly probable causes?  Don't know at this point.

FBC and the other churches should be viewed as economic assets, IMO.  My view on the downfall is much less sinister.  It basically revolves around the law of unintended consequences.  What made downtown originally work is that it was a self sustaining economic engine where the maritime industry met the railroad.  Both of those industries employed thousands and still do today.  Those economic engines clustered together within a compact pedestrian scale setting creating a market for nearby housing, dining, retail, industry, etc. The pedestrian scale design of the overall area made public spaces like Hemming (and even Hogans Creek) full of activity.

However, we've relocated these industries and pulled up the streetcar tracks that connected them with the city's residential districts.  Not because the desire was to kill downtown but because we wanted to clean up the waterfront (and being duped by GM).  Thousands of employees went along with those relocations and over time, the businesses they support left as well.  In the meantime, instead of addressing the basic concept of clustering complementing uses within a pedestrian scale setting, we've continually attempted to single out results of this economic scattering, we've focused on trying to resolve the unintended consequences.  We've demolished empty buildings simply because we thought this "blight" kept people from coming downtown.  We've widened roads simply because we figured high speed auto capacity kept people from downtown.  We've ripped down historical urban black neighborhoods, simply because some were intimidated by them (hmm, Hemming Plaza talk today?).  We've spent big money on sexy revitalization projects that were designed to turn their back to downtown's streets.  We've also pulled out pedestrian scale amenities because we figured since the 1980s, the homeless has become the problem keeping people away.

Millions spent on attempting to fix the unintended consequences of destroying a highly connected pedestrian scale community and not a single ounce of time spent dealing with the basic concept of developing a core for pedestrians instead of automobiles.  We're doing the same with Hemming today.  We're focusing on a result of failed policies by creating more failing strategies instead of addressing the basic needs and desires of a pedestrian scale setting.

A lot of that is planner talk but summing this up, simply program the space for a diverse population and find ways to integrate the surrounding land uses with it to stimulate pedestrian scale synergy between the space and adjacent land uses.  Snyder Memorial, City Hall, the skyway station, the old Shelby's spot?  All of these structures offer the possibility of better utilization to generate more foot traffic in the area, supporting potential programming opportunities within the park itself.

fsquid

October 23, 2012, 09:15:44 AM
Curious, has any city wanted to rip up a downtown park in the last two decades?

thelakelander

October 23, 2012, 09:39:31 AM
The City of Tampa completely shut down Herman Massey Park at the intersection of Franklin and Tyler Street in downtown a few years back. 


You can see the trees of this park in the right side of this 2008 image.

The area was completely deserted and that park was littered with homeless.  They've since remodeled it and now it includes a big Confederate Park style iron fence around it.  Now it's just empty.

Quote
The 20-year-old park may not have been as quiet as the city preferred before closing it off with a chain-link fence in August 2005. In 2004, the park made headlines on separate occasions after people were arrested for feeding the homeless.

The homeless people who often slept in Massey Park felt even more alienated when the city fenced off the grounds, lending it as a staging area for the construction crews building condos.

After $83,700 in renovations — plus a new rose garden, courtesy of the Tampa Rose Society — the city staged a grand reopening, with Iorio and other city officials taking the first public stroll through the new Massey Park.

An ornamental iron fence now surrounds the park, and it will be locked between dusk and dawn. The granite benches, formerly cracked and damaged by skateboarders, were replaced and dotted with raised metal frogs that will put a damper on skater tricks. A dog waste bag dispenser is available, encouraging downtown residents to visit with their pets.

full article: http://www.tampabay.com/news/growth/article898568.ece

Ocklawaha

October 23, 2012, 09:59:57 AM
What an inspiration from Tampa! Let's place a 20' high plexiglass wall around Hemming Plaza and declare it a "City Park Museum!" This is an idea that would get rid of the homeless crowd and preserve the park. The museum won't even need a access door, since the city has decided not to maintain right-of-ways and such anyway. We can all watch from the street as film crews for the TV series, "Earth Population Zero National Geographic ... This is LIFE AFTER PEOPLE." Hells bells, Jacksonville will be famous!  ::)

fsujax

October 29, 2012, 09:53:54 AM
Looks like Channel 4 is airing a news special tonight on the 10 o'clock about the park. Jim Piggot reporting. should be entertaining. Has anyone else seen the previews to the story?

acme54321

October 29, 2012, 09:56:16 AM
Yep, they kept showing him getting harassed by some bum that was talking all crazy.

ronchamblin

October 29, 2012, 10:23:23 AM
Jerry Moran called last night, after seeing the individual engaging Jim Piggot.  Jerry says that the fellow talking to Jim, perhaps aggressively I don't know, was the same fellow, named Robert, who trashed my patio, dropping the pile of feces onto it.  He is also the same fellow who dumped all of our trash into someone's pickup truck parked in front of my business.  This retaliation occurred after I banned him from our place for being loud and a nuisance to my customers.  Although Robert has walked by my place recently, he avoids coming onto the premises.  Hopefully he has released all his anger, and will not trash my patio again.     

Ocklawaha

October 29, 2012, 12:31:26 PM
I think the intellectual disconnect falls with the local media and corresponding public perception of Hemming Plaza being 'Robert,' and 'Robert' being Hemming Plaza.

urbaknight

October 29, 2012, 12:56:43 PM
I saw the preview to the story. And I ask myself, could that encounter be staged? Sure there are some behavior problems, but I haven't had any real problems when I walked through. I even buy a hotdog and sit around occasionally. I think the media and the city are trying to conspire to do away with the park.

fsujax

October 29, 2012, 12:59:47 PM
I am sure piggot did something to get them talking. He loves sticking that microphone in peoples faces.

Charles Hunter

October 29, 2012, 07:59:06 PM
I might go "off" if Pig.got stuck a microphone and camera in my face while I was relaxing in the park.

ronchamblin

October 29, 2012, 08:31:54 PM
I think the intellectual disconnect falls with the local media and corresponding public perception of Hemming Plaza being 'Robert,' and 'Robert' being Hemming Plaza.

Absolutely Ock.  Robert, if he is to be the biggest item on the piece, is certainly not of great essence to the issue.  We will see. 

Bill Hoff

October 30, 2012, 10:56:17 AM
Here is Piggot's video...

http://www.news4jax.com/news/Channel-4-Attacked-in-Hemming-Plaza/-/475880/17187106/-/l3ggtt/-/index.html

I'm familiar with the agressive man with the white beard. He has mental health issues.....most of the problems in the park are related to individuals with mental health issues.

That is a very difficult nut to crack, as they are the least likely to use a day center or other services offered to them. The 80's saw funding for mental health slashed, and services never recovered. Many of these individuals would ideally be in a supervised care facility for those with mental health issues. Which is next to impossible to provide in this situation.

Speaking of which, a homeless day center will not compete for homeless with Hemming Park. It's purpose is not to empty Hemming Park and the Main Library of homeless people, but to be a connection point to services. Easier access, etc. Opening a day center does not equate to a problem free Hemming Park, so they shouldn't be seen as connected in that way.

Speaking of which x 2, JSO is not on the same page with everyone else about what a homeless day center is. The Sheriff sees it as a release point for homeless trouble makers, but that's not what the day center would be. Two totally different facilities/programs. On a similar note, it doesn't appear that the City Council committee working on this issue is on the same page with anyone about the issues/solutions to Hemming Park. They need a life line and are currently lost at sea.

Speaking of which x 3, the site of the day center is for the PILOT program only, and would probably move if/when a permanent day center is established.

City leaders, JSO, social service providers, and planners/civic activists need to be at the same table discussing these issues. Everyone going their direction has not and will not work to address the long-term issue of how to best care for our homeless citizens, and how that affects Downtown.

Bill Hoff

October 30, 2012, 11:08:54 AM
.

jtwestside

October 30, 2012, 11:22:30 AM
Here is Piggot's video...

http://www.news4jax.com/news/Channel-4-Attacked-in-Hemming-Plaza/-/475880/17187106/-/l3ggtt/-/index.html

I'm familiar with the agressive man with the white beard. He has mental health issues.....most of the problems in the park are related to individuals with mental health issues.

That is a very difficult nut to crack, as they are the least likely to use a day center or other services offered to them. The 80's saw funding for mental health slashed, and services never recovered. Many of these individuals would ideally be in a supervised care facility for those with mental health issues. Which is next to impossible to provide in this situation.

Speaking of which, a homeless day center will not compete for homeless with Hemming Park. It's purpose is not to empty Hemming Park and the Main Library of homeless people, but to be a connection point to services. Easier access, etc. Opening a day center does not equate to a problem free Hemming Park, so they shouldn't be seen as connected in that way.

Speaking of which x 2, JSO is not on the same page with everyone else about what a homeless day center is. The Sheriff sees it as a release point for homeless trouble makers, but that's not what the day center would be. Two totally different facilities/programs.

Speaking of which x 3, the site of the day center is for the PILOT program only, and would probably move if/when a permanent day center is established.

"The 80's saw funding for mental health slashed, and services never recovered." The problem is much more complex than that. And even if services were cut then the issue started with the push to stop forcible treatment. (I'm not saying it should be started again, but if you've become a vagrant and you're living on the street I think forced management is much more humane.) You also say yourself they are the least likely to seek help, so throwing all of the money in the world at it wouldn't help. The BBC actually has a great program that examines the same period in their history called "Mental: A History of the Madhouse" if you can find it somewhere it's worth watching.

I was at the library and Hemming Plaza on Saturday. Hemming plaza smelled of urine, and it and the library were full of homeless.  I don't know what the solution is. But if banning tables and games would help I'm all for it. All of the good intentions in the world aren't going to make a bit of difference for most of the people using park on a regular basis. It's either going to be inviting to them and they are going to go there, or it's not and they wont.

To anyone who doesn't think there is a problem I would like to know when the last time you have gone and enjoyed a Saturday afternoon in the plaza?

Regarding FBC. I've always thought it was odd how they build walkways over downtown, yet have mission trips to the Philippines. I guess helping someone right outside your door isn't as sexy.

duvaldude08

October 30, 2012, 11:23:28 AM
Our local media pisses me off. Its like they went to Hemming Plaza and provoke these people, just so they could have a story. We are our own worse enemies in this city. Our local media is terrible.

duvaldude08

October 30, 2012, 11:26:49 AM
Here is Piggot's video...

http://www.news4jax.com/news/Channel-4-Attacked-in-Hemming-Plaza/-/475880/17187106/-/l3ggtt/-/index.html

I'm familiar with the agressive man with the white beard. He has mental health issues.....most of the problems in the park are related to individuals with mental health issues.

That is a very difficult nut to crack, as they are the least likely to use a day center or other services offered to them. The 80's saw funding for mental health slashed, and services never recovered. Many of these individuals would ideally be in a supervised care facility for those with mental health issues. Which is next to impossible to provide in this situation.

Speaking of which, a homeless day center will not compete for homeless with Hemming Park. It's purpose is not to empty Hemming Park and the Main Library of homeless people, but to be a connection point to services. Easier access, etc. Opening a day center does not equate to a problem free Hemming Park, so they shouldn't be seen as connected in that way.

Speaking of which x 2, JSO is not on the same page with everyone else about what a homeless day center is. The Sheriff sees it as a release point for homeless trouble makers, but that's not what the day center would be. Two totally different facilities/programs.

Speaking of which x 3, the site of the day center is for the PILOT program only, and would probably move if/when a permanent day center is established.

"The 80's saw funding for mental health slashed, and services never recovered." The problem is much more complex than that. And even if services were cut then the issue started with the push to stop forcible treatment. (I'm not saying it should be started again, but if you've become a vagrant and you're living on the street I think forced management is much more humane.) You also say yourself they are the least likely to seek help, so throwing all of the money in the world at it wouldn't help. The BBC actually has a great program that examines the same period in their history called "Mental: A History of the Madhouse" if you can find it somewhere it's worth watching.

I was at the library and Hemming Plaza on Saturday. Hemming plaza smelled of urine, and it and the library were full of homeless.  I don't know what the solution is. But if banning tables and games would help I'm all for it. All of the good intentions in the world aren't going to make a bit of difference for most of the people using park on a regular basis. It's either going to be inviting to them and they are going to go there, or it's not and they wont.

To anyone who doesn't think there is a problem I would like to know when the last time you have gone and enjoyed a Saturday afternoon in the plaza?

Regarding FBC. I've always thought it was odd how they build walkways over downtown, yet have mission trips to the Philippines. I guess helping someone right outside your door isn't as sexy.

Ive been to Hemming Park recently and did NOT smell urine

jtwestside

October 30, 2012, 11:31:06 AM
Our local media pisses me off. Its like they went to Hemming Plaza and provoke these people, just so they could have a story. We are our own worse enemies in this city. Our local media is terrible.

Provoke? HA so you think that is a normal reaction from any human being? That's the whole point isn't it? We should all just (if we're unfortunate enough to be there) just shuffle through as fast as possible, not engage and sure as hell not make eye contact with them, as to not "provoke".

jtwestside

October 30, 2012, 11:32:24 AM
Here is Piggot's video...

http://www.news4jax.com/news/Channel-4-Attacked-in-Hemming-Plaza/-/475880/17187106/-/l3ggtt/-/index.html

I'm familiar with the agressive man with the white beard. He has mental health issues.....most of the problems in the park are related to individuals with mental health issues.

That is a very difficult nut to crack, as they are the least likely to use a day center or other services offered to them. The 80's saw funding for mental health slashed, and services never recovered. Many of these individuals would ideally be in a supervised care facility for those with mental health issues. Which is next to impossible to provide in this situation.

Speaking of which, a homeless day center will not compete for homeless with Hemming Park. It's purpose is not to empty Hemming Park and the Main Library of homeless people, but to be a connection point to services. Easier access, etc. Opening a day center does not equate to a problem free Hemming Park, so they shouldn't be seen as connected in that way.

Speaking of which x 2, JSO is not on the same page with everyone else about what a homeless day center is. The Sheriff sees it as a release point for homeless trouble makers, but that's not what the day center would be. Two totally different facilities/programs.

Speaking of which x 3, the site of the day center is for the PILOT program only, and would probably move if/when a permanent day center is established.

"The 80's saw funding for mental health slashed, and services never recovered." The problem is much more complex than that. And even if services were cut then the issue started with the push to stop forcible treatment. (I'm not saying it should be started again, but if you've become a vagrant and you're living on the street I think forced management is much more humane.) You also say yourself they are the least likely to seek help, so throwing all of the money in the world at it wouldn't help. The BBC actually has a great program that examines the same period in their history called "Mental: A History of the Madhouse" if you can find it somewhere it's worth watching.

I was at the library and Hemming Plaza on Saturday. Hemming plaza smelled of urine, and it and the library were full of homeless.  I don't know what the solution is. But if banning tables and games would help I'm all for it. All of the good intentions in the world aren't going to make a bit of difference for most of the people using park on a regular basis. It's either going to be inviting to them and they are going to go there, or it's not and they wont.

To anyone who doesn't think there is a problem I would like to know when the last time you have gone and enjoyed a Saturday afternoon in the plaza?

Regarding FBC. I've always thought it was odd how they build walkways over downtown, yet have mission trips to the Philippines. I guess helping someone right outside your door isn't as sexy.

Ive been to Hemming Park recently and did NOT smell urine
I'm guessing after a heavy rain.

stephendare

October 30, 2012, 11:35:50 AM
Here is Piggot's video...

http://www.news4jax.com/news/Channel-4-Attacked-in-Hemming-Plaza/-/475880/17187106/-/l3ggtt/-/index.html

I'm familiar with the agressive man with the white beard. He has mental health issues.....most of the problems in the park are related to individuals with mental health issues.

That is a very difficult nut to crack, as they are the least likely to use a day center or other services offered to them. The 80's saw funding for mental health slashed, and services never recovered. Many of these individuals would ideally be in a supervised care facility for those with mental health issues. Which is next to impossible to provide in this situation.

Speaking of which, a homeless day center will not compete for homeless with Hemming Park. It's purpose is not to empty Hemming Park and the Main Library of homeless people, but to be a connection point to services. Easier access, etc. Opening a day center does not equate to a problem free Hemming Park, so they shouldn't be seen as connected in that way.

Speaking of which x 2, JSO is not on the same page with everyone else about what a homeless day center is. The Sheriff sees it as a release point for homeless trouble makers, but that's not what the day center would be. Two totally different facilities/programs.

Speaking of which x 3, the site of the day center is for the PILOT program only, and would probably move if/when a permanent day center is established.

"The 80's saw funding for mental health slashed, and services never recovered." The problem is much more complex than that. And even if services were cut then the issue started with the push to stop forcible treatment. (I'm not saying it should be started again, but if you've become a vagrant and you're living on the street I think forced management is much more humane.) You also say yourself they are the least likely to seek help, so throwing all of the money in the world at it wouldn't help. The BBC actually has a great program that examines the same period in their history called "Mental: A History of the Madhouse" if you can find it somewhere it's worth watching.

I was at the library and Hemming Plaza on Saturday. Hemming plaza smelled of urine, and it and the library were full of homeless.  I don't know what the solution is. But if banning tables and games would help I'm all for it. All of the good intentions in the world aren't going to make a bit of difference for most of the people using park on a regular basis. It's either going to be inviting to them and they are going to go there, or it's not and they wont.

To anyone who doesn't think there is a problem I would like to know when the last time you have gone and enjoyed a Saturday afternoon in the plaza?

Regarding FBC. I've always thought it was odd how they build walkways over downtown, yet have mission trips to the Philippines. I guess helping someone right outside your door isn't as sexy.

that is the point, jtwestside, removing the tables and banning games will not help.

jtwestside

October 30, 2012, 11:44:58 AM
Here is Piggot's video...

http://www.news4jax.com/news/Channel-4-Attacked-in-Hemming-Plaza/-/475880/17187106/-/l3ggtt/-/index.html

I'm familiar with the agressive man with the white beard. He has mental health issues.....most of the problems in the park are related to individuals with mental health issues.

That is a very difficult nut to crack, as they are the least likely to use a day center or other services offered to them. The 80's saw funding for mental health slashed, and services never recovered. Many of these individuals would ideally be in a supervised care facility for those with mental health issues. Which is next to impossible to provide in this situation.

Speaking of which, a homeless day center will not compete for homeless with Hemming Park. It's purpose is not to empty Hemming Park and the Main Library of homeless people, but to be a connection point to services. Easier access, etc. Opening a day center does not equate to a problem free Hemming Park, so they shouldn't be seen as connected in that way.

Speaking of which x 2, JSO is not on the same page with everyone else about what a homeless day center is. The Sheriff sees it as a release point for homeless trouble makers, but that's not what the day center would be. Two totally different facilities/programs.

Speaking of which x 3, the site of the day center is for the PILOT program only, and would probably move if/when a permanent day center is established.

"The 80's saw funding for mental health slashed, and services never recovered." The problem is much more complex than that. And even if services were cut then the issue started with the push to stop forcible treatment. (I'm not saying it should be started again, but if you've become a vagrant and you're living on the street I think forced management is much more humane.) You also say yourself they are the least likely to seek help, so throwing all of the money in the world at it wouldn't help. The BBC actually has a great program that examines the same period in their history called "Mental: A History of the Madhouse" if you can find it somewhere it's worth watching.

I was at the library and Hemming Plaza on Saturday. Hemming plaza smelled of urine, and it and the library were full of homeless.  I don't know what the solution is. But if banning tables and games would help I'm all for it. All of the good intentions in the world aren't going to make a bit of difference for most of the people using park on a regular basis. It's either going to be inviting to them and they are going to go there, or it's not and they wont.

To anyone who doesn't think there is a problem I would like to know when the last time you have gone and enjoyed a Saturday afternoon in the plaza?

Regarding FBC. I've always thought it was odd how they build walkways over downtown, yet have mission trips to the Philippines. I guess helping someone right outside your door isn't as sexy.

that is the point, jtwestside, removing the tables and banning games will not help.

Lets try it first. If it doesn't it's easy enough to put them back. I'm personally not seeing anyone else wanting to address the problem head on. I HATE the idea of removing the tables and especially of an ordinance  that banned "games" which should be the reason for the park in the first place. I was even telling my family that on Saturday, but we all agreed that at least it was a start. These are not citizens using public spaces. These are vagrants who make the park unusable for others.

stephendare

October 30, 2012, 11:55:39 AM
jtwestside
we have already tried it.

Weve been trying it for 20 years already

It hasnt worked

Its only made things worse.

simms3

October 30, 2012, 12:21:36 PM
People, can you quit complaining of the smell of urine?  Every major downtown in America where there are constant people milling about and social services provided has smells, often bad smells.  I am sitting here in my office in SF in the heart of downtown, which I get to after a mile long walk, and I probably pass more homeless people on the way than in the entire city of Jacksonville.

If there were a reason to be DT and enjoy it, people would go despite the homeless, and that's the bottom line.  Hemming Plaza may always be like Pioneer Square in Seattle, which is a homeless hangout, and we may just need to accept that.  The city has already basically ruined any chance of Hemming Plaza becoming anything remotely close to Union Square SF or Union Square NYC (well I don't expect there to be 5 story deBeers flagship jewelry stores anywhere in Jax anytime soon, but I also don't expect Hemming Plaza to be totally usable by the general public either in any capacity).

stephendare

October 30, 2012, 12:35:48 PM
simms where you at?

Kaiser Soze

October 30, 2012, 12:37:29 PM
We should put the homeless to work on chain gangs.

jtwestside

October 30, 2012, 01:19:54 PM
I was waiting for someone to mention San Francisco! Which BTW is my favorite city in the union. I've been many times in the past few years. They are famous for their homeless problem (and yes it is a problem.) I was actually assaulted by a homeless man in union Square San Francisco with my family the last time I was there.  I know one thing they've tried recently were one-way tickets back to wherever you're from. 

http://www.sfgate.com/homeless/

Stephen, what exactly have we tried? I always see a bunch of "Oh we should move homeless services here or there ... etc". Have we tried eliminating homeless services? Have we tried not feeding the homeless? I guarantee you they would not starve in the street, they would move on.

stephendare

October 30, 2012, 01:30:00 PM
yes.

we have tried that.

In fact it was illegal to distribute food to the homeless anywhere near hemming park for almost a year. 

We pulled all of the benches out of downtown.

We turned off the public water fountains.

We closed Hemming Park at night for the first time in a hundred years.

We closed all the public bathrooms in downtown.

We closed the homeless shelter that operated out of the Snyder Memorial 14 years ago.

And the result is apparently that its so dangerous that you were nearly attacked and killed in San Francisco. ;)

stephendare

October 30, 2012, 01:32:48 PM
of course, the city in its wisdom, knew better than we did once upon a time:

http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2007-apr-hemming-park-changes-may-effect-laura-street-corridor

stephendare

October 30, 2012, 01:33:50 PM

urbaknight

October 30, 2012, 02:03:23 PM
I prefer the sheriff's idea for dropping the homeless off in the middle of nowhere, than the city's idea of a day center downtown.

The chaingang was a good idea too.

I'm not talking about the honest to goodness people who are down on their luck, they help themselves with the public services to get back on their feet. These services are available to everyone that needs them; and any one of us may need them someday.

But the lazy ones that cause problems and harass people and panhandle should be punished somehow. (Weather it's isolating them from the population or, an it was mentioned, make them work in a chaingang. Isn't there an island we can put them on?) Taxpayers should not have to be subjected to their BS.

stephendare

October 30, 2012, 02:06:11 PM
I prefer the sheriff's idea for dropping the homeless off in the middle of nowhere, than the city's idea of a day center downtown.

The chaingang was a good idea too.

I'm not talking about the honest to goodness people who are down on their luck, they help themselves with the public services to get back on their feet. These services are available to everyone that needs them; and any one of us may need them someday.

But the lazy ones that cause problems and harass people and panhandle should be punished somehow. (Weather it's isolating them from the population or, an it was mentioned, make them work in a chaingang. Isn't there an island we can put them on?) Taxpayers should not have to be subjected to their BS.

When exactly was the last time you were downtown, urban knight?

urbaknight

October 30, 2012, 02:15:53 PM
I'm here in the main library right now. I personally haven't had many problems in Hemming plaza. I do have some in the rest of downtown though. It seems to either happen every time I turn a corner in a given day, or it doesn't happen at all. But if the homeless are the true issue, let's just find a way to get rid of them. I don't think they're any more of a problem than anywhere else. It's just perception combined with the lack of people and activity dt. I just think we should do whatever we can to change the situation.

stephendare

October 30, 2012, 02:20:31 PM
I'm here in the main library right now. I personally haven't had many problems in Hemming plaza. I do have some in the rest of downtown though. It seems to either happen every time I turn a corner in a given day, or it doesn't happen at all. But if the homeless are the true issue, let's just find a way to get rid of them. I don't think they're any more of a problem than anywhere else. It's just perception combined with the lack of people and activity dt. I just think we should do whatever we can to change the situation.

the solution is really very simple.

Restore the amenities of downtown and require that the various shelters that benefit from all of their services being in close proximity to house their clients during the day.

Right now all of the shelters force all of their residents out into the daylight shortly before dawn and they arent allowed to come back until the evening---in short:  all the business hours.

Its the elephant in the room, because no one wants to challenge the not for profits to help solve this issue.

urbaknight

October 30, 2012, 02:31:22 PM
And that's a real shame, we paid for those amenities with our taxes. Just because a a few "undesirables" are using them they cut them off! I have noticed the drinking fountains and the bathrooms on the riverwalk are nothing more than ornaments, to the untrained eye they look inviting enough, but they're just a farce and we paid to have them for public use. I think the city leaders owe the taxpayers a great deal more than they care allow. Maybe I'm lashing out unjustly at the homeless. But I think both parties are to blame, the city and the homeless.

simms3

October 30, 2012, 02:34:35 PM
simms where you at?


101 California :)

stephendare

October 30, 2012, 02:36:52 PM
simms where you at?


101 California :)

I know you just got there and all, but you do realize that there are different districts in the city, ;)

Are you working in the Financial District, Market Street, or the Tenderloin?

simms3

October 30, 2012, 02:50:06 PM
simms where you at?


101 California :)

I know you just got there and all, but you do realize that there are different districts in the city, ;)

Are you working in the Financial District, Market Street, or the Tenderloin?

Side convo, 101 Cal is the curved glass building (johnson/burgee designed) near Embarcadero in the middle of the fin. district (5th highest in the city, my view is from 31st floor).  I have walked through the Tenderloin (during day and at night) and prefer to avoid it if humanly possible (the countless homeless there ARE sometimes *very* violent).  I stayed 1 block off of Market last night on 4th, where we own some property (3 buildings, including the Hotel Palomar at the corner of 4th and Market).  The rest of the week I will be staying at our corporate apt on the top floor of a high rise on Russian Hill. :)

JayBird

November 07, 2012, 10:13:54 AM
So I read the Downtown Jacksonville blog to find that they blame the revitalization of Hemming Plaza on the fact that the hardest part is attracting people to downtown.  Why not instead of trying to attract, they serve the people there already?  The Main Library has a steady stream of people coming and going, Chamblins Bookstore (my fave, even better than Strand Bookstore in NYC) attracts plenty, not to mention all those who work in the St James Building, First Baptist Church (only a block away), and the US Courthouse as well the new shiny courthouse for Duval County. 

So I say that to ask this, is it possible to have too many people in the kitchen?  You have Downtown Vision, the new DIA, City of Jacksonville Parks & Recreation Department, and a group of local business trying to keep away blight.  They are all going towards the same goal, but I wonder if they are on the same road ...

http://downtownjacksonville.org/blog/2012/11/06/small-ways-to-make-a-difference-in-hemming-plaza-picnic-in-the-plaza

thelakelander

November 07, 2012, 10:45:25 AM
Quote
So I read the Downtown Jacksonville blog to find that they blame the revitalization of Hemming Plaza on the fact that the hardest part is attracting people to downtown.

I'd disagree with this notion.  For example, does the Landing's courtyard struggle to find people to visit it?  Does the Northbank Riverwalk?  How about Memorial Park?  These places work because they either have uses in them that draw a diverse population or they have uses surrounding them that seamlessly integrate with them.  Dealing with Hemming really has nothing to do with getting a suburbanite to come downtown or increasing the Northbank's population to 5,000 people.

Hemming's problem is strictly an urban design and programming issue.  For example, the transition from retail/hotel use to government offices on the west/north sides of the park have created permanent dead zones that don't contribute to consistent foot traffic the space once enjoyed.  Furthermore, despite MOCA Jax and the library being across the street, there's really no connection in activity that extends or takes advantage of the park.  Something as simple as a small playground area catering to children and school groups visiting the library and museum would have a significant impact on the park's use.  The same goes for something as simple as rolling in a group of food trucks along the dead zones on a daily basis.  These things can happen literally overnight without increasing downtown's population first or bribing a suburbanite to come down for a few minutes.

Mathew1056

November 07, 2012, 11:34:03 AM
Quote
So I read the Downtown Jacksonville blog to find that they blame the revitalization of Hemming Plaza on the fact that the hardest part is attracting people to downtown.

I'd disagree with this notion.  For example, does the Landing's courtyard struggle to find people to visit it?  Does the Northbank Riverwalk?  How about Memorial Park?  These places work because they either have uses in them that draw a diverse population or they have uses surrounding them that seamlessly integrate with them.  Dealing with Hemming really has nothing to do with getting a suburbanite to come downtown or increasing the Northbank's population to 5,000 people.

Hemming's problem is strictly an urban design and programming issue.  For example, the transition from retail/hotel use to government offices on the west/north sides of the park have created permanent dead zones that don't contribute to consistent foot traffic the space once enjoyed.  Furthermore, despite MOCA Jax and the library being across the street, there's really no connection in activity that extends or takes advantage of the park.  Something as simple as a small playground area catering to children and school groups visiting the library and museum would have a significant impact on the park's use.  The same goes for something as simple as rolling in a group of food trucks along the dead zones on a daily basis.  These things can happen literally overnight without increasing downtown's population first or bribing a suburbanite to come down for a few minutes.

I agree 100% with the idea that Hemming Plaza struggles because the former retail properties have transitioned to government use. A person can easily imagine the differing intent and demographic of someone traveling to either of these two types of destinations. Someone making a trip to city hall is not necessarily planning on spending money in the Hemming Plaza area. If enough retail space existed around the park, and a critical mass of desirable stores anchor the location, a whole different kind of person makes the trip specifically to spend money locally.

I was recently questioned on the value of City Halls location in such a prominent spot with great retail potential. The questions made me think about the need to have city hall in such a structure. I guess it being located in a beautiful building, such as the St. James, portrays some kind of power. I can't help but think utilitarian and imagine the offices in the now empty Duval County Courthouse. Reestablishing the St. James building as a retail location would restore the plaza closer to its original character and function.

kreger

November 07, 2012, 11:40:35 AM
City Hall might as well move to the First Baptist Church.

JayBird

November 07, 2012, 12:02:21 PM
Good to hear that I wasn't the only one who thought this completely erroneous.  Bringing more retail into the immediate area would help, and yes Lake, I agree that more should more done to welcome those already there.  Put out some tables with umbrellas and chairs, set up a coffee stand/snack kiosk and people will get books from the library and enjoy them in the park.

thelakelander

November 07, 2012, 12:36:44 PM
Quote
people will get books from the library and enjoy them in the park.

Unfortunately, the only problem with the reading books in Hemming is that we built a similar environment within the library itself on the second floor.



We've basically cannibalized ourselves on that one.

Noone

November 07, 2012, 02:15:45 PM
Councilwoman Lee is the chair of the subcommittee that is looking at this issue. When is the next meeting? Has anyone contacted her?

Lunican

November 17, 2012, 12:20:34 PM
Inhospitable Park Bench of the Day: The Pay and Sit



http://vimeo.com/1665301

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/technology/2012/11/inhospitable-park-bench-day-pay-and-sit/3930/

Ocklawaha

November 17, 2012, 01:57:54 PM
Lunican, PLEASE don't give these  bubblehead, cretinous, imbecilic, ratbag, schnooks, any more great ideas! I have to admit though, that sharing this concept might allow us to screen the first candidates for a renewed American eugenics movement.

Spence

November 18, 2012, 04:26:13 AM
City Hall might as well move to the First Baptist Church.

LOLFOMCROTFLMFAO

Cheshire Cat

April 15, 2013, 12:53:14 PM
Here is Nevada's answer to a growing population of homeless mentally ill.  This has also been done to some degree here in Jacksonville in the past.  Our problem with this issue goes way beyond Hemming Park and engulfs the entire community.  Right now in Jacksonville our biggest mental health provider is the jail.  How very sad is that fact and the reality that people just don't seem to want to rally behind the needs of those with mental illness.  Believe you me I have been among those trying several times in the past.  Even tried to set up a program where groups could adopt a person in a sort of guardianship to at least make sure that they get into homeless shelters and get proper medication on time.  The result?   A lot of agreeing and not much action.  I wonder when will it be time to address this serious issue?  We have done nothing to address the situation since folks were release from closing institutions in the sixties. 

http://www.sacbee.com/2013/04/14/5340078/nevada-buses-hundreds-of-mentally.html?fish

Quote

Nevada buses hundreds of mentally ill patients to cities around country
By Cynthia Hubert, Phillip Reese and Jim Sanders
chubert@sacbee.com

Last Modified: Sunday, Apr. 14, 2013 - 7:58 am

Over the past five years, Nevada's primary state psychiatric hospital has put hundreds of mentally ill patients on Greyhound buses and sent them to cities and towns across America.

Since July 2008, Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas has transported more than 1,500 patients to other cities via Greyhound bus, sending at least one person to every state in the continental United States, according to a Bee review of bus receipts kept by Nevada's mental health division.

About a third of those patients were dispatched to California, including more than 200 to Los Angeles County, about 70 to San Diego County and 19 to the city of Sacramento.

In recent years, as Nevada has slashed funding for mental health services, the number of mentally ill patients being bused out of southern Nevada has steadily risen, growing 66 percent from 2009 to 2012. During that same period, the hospital has dispersed those patients to an ever-increasing number of states.

By last year, Rawson-Neal bused out patients at a pace of well over one per day, shipping nearly 400 patients to a total of 176 cities and 45 states across the nation.

Nevada's approach to dispatching mentally ill patients has come under scrutiny since one of its clients turned up suicidal and confused at a Sacramento homeless services complex. James Flavy Coy Brown, who is 48 and suffers from a variety of mood disorders including schizophrenia, was discharged in February from Rawson-Neal to a Greyhound bus for Sacramento, a place he had never visited and where he knew no one.

The hospital sent him on the 15-hour bus ride without making arrangements for his treatment or housing in California; he arrived in Sacramento out of medication and without identification or access to his Social Security payments. He wound up in the UC Davis Medical Center's emergency room, where he lingered for three days until social workers were able to find him temporary housing.

If_I_Loved_you

April 15, 2013, 01:59:24 PM
Any City in Americathat is found out doing this should be billed several thousand dollars for each homeless person bused out!!!

sheclown

April 15, 2013, 05:32:02 PM
And totally inhumane, to say the least.

Noone

April 17, 2013, 03:33:35 AM
Hemming Plaza DIA subcommittee meeting today at 1:30 first floor City Hall.

Dog Walker

April 17, 2013, 06:30:22 PM
There are plans by the City to cut down all of the Laural Oaks in Hemming Plaza because the are "two old" at 25-30 years.

edjax

September 25, 2013, 09:50:44 PM
The council did vote to provide $200,000 for maintenance and programming for Hemming Plaza for the upcoming fiscal year beginning 10/1.  This was by amendment from Councilwoman Lee. 

thelakelander

September 25, 2013, 10:18:47 PM
Great news!

Ralph W

September 25, 2013, 10:46:39 PM
The JAX CASH MOB is a popular event, as are the Creek cleanup outings, as are the various Pub Crawls. Also, don't forget One Spark. These events tend to bring out a fair number of people, some I recognize thru various postings here on MJ, who appear to be interested in supporting, in general, Jacksonville and in particular, Downtown Jacksonville.

Hemming Plaza would be a good choice for adoption by a joint effort of the Cash Mob, Creek cleaners and Pub Crawlers.

Imagine a crowd of glove clad, bag toting, weed pulling, brush trimming, gum scraping Friends of Hemming descending enmass on the Plaza for a cleanup blitz. Then trucking across the street to the Chamblin Book Mine for lunch and libations. To be fair, they'd have to do it again, trucking to support another downtown business at a later date.

This should demonstrate to the powers that be that somebody cares, it's not all lip service or complaining and it could be a training lesson on efficient use of time and manpower to the city crews and their managers who should be able to plan and execute similar efforts throughout the rest of the city. This last is a snide comment about the sad state of other neglected locations including the areas surrounding Stanton as has been in the news lately.

Would it work? How about some of the established organizers running it up the flag pole to see if anyone salutes.

Ocklawaha

September 25, 2013, 10:55:41 PM
As a 'salute' to the City Councilman that waved his hands over the crowd and called us Noise, I suggest we name the group N.O.I.S.E.!

Use our favorite Noone's phrase for it: NO ONE IS SERIOUSLY ENGAGED!

I'm all in... ha ha, I'll beat the place into submission with my cane! ;D

Noone

September 25, 2013, 11:38:18 PM
 Glad your feeling better Ock :)

I-10east

November 11, 2013, 07:55:11 PM
Don Redman is still hellbent on removing those chairs & tables out of Hemming Plaza...

www.actionnewsjax.com/mediacenter/local.aspx?videoId=4651473&navCatId=20896

JeffreyS

November 11, 2013, 08:02:25 PM
Can he please be done with politics already? What a burden he is on this community.

tufsu1

November 11, 2013, 10:31:52 PM
Reality is Redman can be seen downtown and often listens to constituents....cant say that about many otger council members

stephendare

November 11, 2013, 10:58:07 PM
Reality is Redman can be seen downtown and often listens to constituents....cant say that about many otger council members

the exact same thing can be said of the other crazy people in need of a drink and a long bout of therapy living in Hemming Park.

tufsu1

November 11, 2013, 11:16:28 PM
Guess I can still be classy and respect the office even when I disagree with the man

stephendare

November 12, 2013, 12:01:52 AM
Guess I can still be classy and respect the office even when I disagree with the man

among the more bizarre things youve posted.

the man is a total tool. illiterate, intolerant and not fit to be sent to a glue factory.

the office doesnt imbue him with any pnumbra of respectability that his actions fail to bring him.

thats a personal opinion.

nice use of the word 'classy' though. ;)

Noone

November 12, 2013, 05:35:34 AM
The council did vote to provide $200,000 for maintenance and programming for Hemming Plaza for the upcoming fiscal year beginning 10/1.  This was by amendment from Councilwoman Lee. 

2013-695 ready for a Jacksonville city council vote.

Will an amendment be attached to 2013-384 for 24/7 Public Access to Hogans Creek? Applicants were supportive.

LPS- Let People Succeed- Unlock the gate to our RIVER.

PALMS FISH CAMP - A million bucks and you never even open the door. Sign me up!

Governor Scott, RICO guys snap out of it. The favorite of any CRA/DIA in the USA plan the Jim Love, Kevin Kuzel 26' Berkman floating dock compromise (ShipyardsIII) misrepresented by OGC to the Jacksonville Waterways Commission during the 2013 FIND grant application process. Our property tax dollars. We are so LOST.

So many more add your own.
DIA Downtown Experience Committee update was rescheduled to Dec. DIA meeting two days out.
Jacksonville Waterways Commission meeting two day out. Anyone see an agenda? Backroom deals! Anyone want to donate a buck to 2009-442? Artificial Reef Trust Fund.

No Shoes
No Shirt
No Money
No Problems- Visit Jacksonville

PS
Still have an open contest on the new Waterway signage that was never before Waterways and if you post and share it with all of us I'll treat you to lunch at Chopstick Charley's and we will use Uber to get there. This contest is a month old because councilman Redman was made aware of it last month at Waterways. Here is a clue. It's next to the River and it's in our new DIA zone.



Noone

November 21, 2013, 04:58:13 AM
It was announced at the 11/20/13 DIA Board meeting that there will be a meeting today at 3 pm rm. 825 Ed Ball bldg. on Hemming Plaza. I got the impression that a final decision will be made. Anyone else aware of this?

Noone

February 24, 2014, 02:28:42 AM
Another Thread worthy of a bump. DIA meeting in two days 10 am. This is where the decisions will be made.

heights unknown

March 08, 2014, 11:58:42 AM
Waste, fraud, abuse, mismnagement, we will all be dead and gone IF Jax ever gets it together; the way that Russia is saber rattling, China is making noise, and other hot spots in the world could cause world war 3, we all will be a part of the upper atmosphere BEFORE any of these plans, proposals, etc. even get close to come to fruition.

stephendare

March 08, 2014, 11:59:28 AM
Waste, fraud, abuse, mismnagement, we will all be dead and gone IF Jax ever gets it together; the way that Russia is saber rattling, China is making noise, and other hot spots in the world could cause world war 3, we all will be a part of the upper atmosphere BEFORE any of these plans, proposals, etc. even get close to come to fruition.

just takes one good election

edjax

March 08, 2014, 02:18:53 PM
^^and a lot of good viable candidates.  Where are they??
View forum thread
Welcome Guest. You must be logged in to comment on this story.

What are the benefits of having a MetroJacksonville.com account?
  • Share your opinion by posting comments on stories that interest you.
  • Stay up to date on all of the latest issues affecting your neighborhood.
  • Create a network of friends working towards a better Jacksonville.
Register now
Already have an account? Login now to comment.