by Joe Wilhelm Jr.
Downtown Jacksonville will experience a swell in its number of parks Friday.
Jacksonville will join cities nationwide — including New York, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles — in recognizing the importance of green space in their metropolitan areas. Four temporary “parks” will be constructed in parking spaces at four areas Downtown.
“We hope the event will encourage people to take a walk Downtown on Friday,” said Andrea Goldman, senior project associate at The Trust for Public Land. “Each spot has its own creative license to build whatever kind of park they like.”
The idea is to take individual metered spots across Downtown, apply a little creativity and create mini pocket parks. Meters will be bagged and spaces will be reserved for the parks so they won’t have to be driven around the block every two hours. Two spaces will be reserved in front of the Ivy Ultra Bar at 113 E. Bay Street from 4-8 p.m., and two spots will be open in front of HDR, Inc., at the corner of Hogan and Forsyth Streets from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Three spaces near The Jacksonville Landing, at the intersection of Independence Drive and Laura Street will be temporarily converted from asphalt to green space from 4-8. The largest park will be at the corner of Newnan and Bay Streets where Bailey Publishing has donated its parking lot to the event.
Goldman said the Downtown-wide project is simply a demonstration and none of the parks will be judged.
“I got involved through my relationship with the Trust for Public Land,” said Steven Davis, of the American Society of Landscape Architecture. “We’ve got some great sponsors lined up and it should be an interesting event.”
Davis and LMI Landscapes will be in charge of designing the park at the Bailey Publishing lot. He plans on using sod, mulch and outdoor furniture to transform the lot. But, some the park will remain asphalt to serve as a playground court.
Jacksonville Scene and Thursday Night Drinking Club will creating the park at The Landing. People from HDR, Inc. and Ivy Ultra Bar will build the parks in front of their businesses.
The event is being coordinated with the help of the City of Jacksonville’s Office of Special Events.
The event was founded by San Francisco art collective REBAR, which developed the event as a way for the public to explore ”the creative potential of streets.”
The Trust for Public Land is a national, nonprofit, land conservation organization that conserves land for public benefit with projects that have included parks, community gardens, historical sites, rural lands and other natural places. Since the organization’s debut in 1972, it has protected more than two million acres nationwide.