An open letter to the City of Jacksonville,
The vision for Bay Street as an Entertainment District is/was, in my mind, to be host to big parties.
That has never happened really (other than the yearly Florida/Georgia Game).
The city has not put forth the effort to figure out how to do it.
I question the city leaders (past/ & perhaps even present) political will on this as well. But, it's never too late to change.
Example: Why not put a Jazz Fest stage under the trees at the old City Annex by the Hyatt? That is a perfect location.
Lots of shade (a good thing).
Example: Partner with Bill Warner and do a parade of the classic cars he brings to the Amelia Island Concours every year.
Example: Do a go cart race downtown.
Example: Do an arts and crafts/bazaar as an annual event.
Example: In general, be CREATIVE and give people a reason to go Downtown.
The Jaguar games (and any big event at the Sports Complex/Arena) are all about routing of traffic (cars = tailgate parties = traffic to the stadium) and have never been about pedestrian foot traffic. Bay Street is a thoroughfare for these big events and nothing else. That is a crying shame. Need to offer good alternatives to parking at the stadium and actually walking (I've heard that exercise is good for you, go figure).
Consider making Bay Street only for pedestrians and bicycles on the big events day? Or perhaps allow tailgating on Bay Street and then walk to the game? That would create the energy we need to make these events more viable than they are now. We aren't, as citizens, being given the full nature of what these events can do for Downtown. Bay Street is a pass through in and out. That is ludicrous!
So, I took it upon myself to produce my vision of what Bay Street should/could look like. Yeah I threw a party for the visiting Tartan Army (Scottish hardcore fans). We can learn something from our Scottish fans about having a good time and still acting like gentlemen as well (yes they can drink us under the table and have had more practice, lol).
It took the Scottish (and USA football/soccer fans) to show what we could look like every Jaguar game day. If we weren't so used to driving to and from the stadium and the traffic was more of a pedestrian variety.
No cones?! No police on every corner?! Why was this? How come (?) as we had 44,000 at a game and no cones on Bay Street or many police manning the intersections blowing whistles? Traffic still exited from the stadium in a timely fashion.It worked better without the cones and cops
. It made it easier to stop and get out of your car and party if you chose to. It also was better for the pedestrians (I walked from the stadium back to East Bay Street myself).
But mainly, the difference was more pedestrian foot traffic. We had a crowd that came before and after the match. That would not typically happen. Foot traffic, with publicity & promotion (thanks Times-Union!) is essential to changing the landscape down there.
Thanks to the city (or to whoever got us the match Saturday). More please.We need to have more entertainment in our entertainment district!
This shows how it could be. No fights, no issues, just people having a good time and WALKING up and down Bay Street.
This is how you fix Downtown. More events not centered on car traffic so much. Give an incentive to park and walk to the Jags games please. And rethink (with the Sheriff on board) how to change their (JSO's) mentality as regards traffic flow to and from the stadium. If that does not change, any efforts at programming events is a waste of time. That is the key element that must change. You need to challenge their argument for cones and all. It does not have to be that way.
And please remove the huge and ugly overhead directional signals. They aren't needed and do no good. We are worse off with them as it gives the impression of a freeway and not a pedestrian friendly street.
This was the type of event the Chamber and City should be hungry for. Got to get after it. Time is now. Nobody is getting any younger. Less talk, more action!
These videos and photos are the proof it can work.