New Park for Jacksonville (FL)

DUVAL COUNTY, 9/16/02: Working through the City of Jacksonville’s Preservation Project, the Trust for Public Land has acquired and conveyed to the city a 68-acre parcel of land in the east portion of Duval County, on Beach Boulevard just east of Southside Boulevard. TPL purchased the property and conveyed it to the city late last week.

“This acquisition will provide much-needed parkland to an underserved area,” said Susan Grandin, director of TPL’s Northeast Florida Office. “It’s a great piece of property and will make a wonderful neighborhood park.”

Commonly known as Beach & Peach, the site is located on the south side of Beach Boulevard, between Peach Drive and Eve Drive East. The property is one of the few open spaces in this mostly commercial and multi-family neighborhood, and has been used by residents for everything from dumping trash to dirt-biking. An abandoned warehouse sits on the north side of the site.

The city’s purchase of the property means that it will become a public park complete with restrooms, hiking trails and picnic pavilions. A seven-acre pond that is already a popular fishing spot will get a small pier and canoe launch. A large dirt mound on the property will remain, with added paths for hiking and bicycling. An exercise path will be constructed around the pond, with exercise stations and signage describing native plants and animals on the site.

Mark Middlebrook, director of the Jacksonville Preservation Project, says the acquisition is part of the city’s plan to acquire land in the city’s urban core. The parcel is on a heavily traveled four-lane road, in an area dominated by commercial activity.

“This park will be an oasis of green in a sea of concrete,” Middlebrook says. “It meets the mayor’s goal of providing the kinds of experiences you get in a national park right in our city neighborhoods.”

“A seventy-five acre park in an area with this kind of density is almost unheard of,” says Suzanne Jenkins, City Councilwoman from District 4, where the site is located. “It’s a way of preserving natural beauty in an urban corridor – great for the neighborhood, and also great for the commercial corridor.”

This is the fifteenth acquisition and conveyance TPL has completed in the past two years for the City of Jacksonville and its Preservation Project.

About TPL: Founded in 1972, the Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit organization working exclusively to protect land for human enjoyment and well-being. TPL helps conserve land for recreation and spiritual nourishment and to improve the health and quality of life of American communities. Operating in Florida since 1975, TPL has helped save more than 250 sites as community parks, waterfronts, historic sites, greenways and trails. The Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money magazine recently named TPL the nation’s most efficient large conservation charity for the second year in a row, based on the percentage of funds dedicated to programs.