by Max Marbut
It was heavy equipment and flying asphalt Tuesday morning when construction began on the new pocket park on Main Street across from the Main Library between Monroe and Duval streets. The park is one element of a seven-block Downtown pedestrian experience enhancement program.
“It has taken about a year to go from idea to implementation,” said Paul Crawford, deputy director of the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission.
The City-owned land was a parking lot, then a staging area for construction equipment used to build the Main Library. The architect who designed the Downtown branch recommended the area be used as an open space with some parking available to accommodate buses bringing students to the library for field trips.
That plan was adapted in order to take advantage of some state funding that was available, said Crawford.
“The main reason we did this was to use a five- or six-year-old Florida Department of Transportation grant that was available for improvements on Main Street.”
In order to completely fund the $1.8 million budget for the project, the FDOT grant was combined with money from the City’s tree mitigation fund and the Parks Department.
The park’s design includes an area for an Art in Public Places installation, said Mayor’s office spokesperson Kortney Mosley.
When the improvements are complete in about six months, in addition to the park, there will be date palms planted on both sides of Main Street from Forsyth to Union streets.