Hemming Plaza enhancement agreement announced

Published On: Jun 18 2014 04:30:13 PM EDT

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown met Wednesday with representatives from the Downtown Investment Authority, City Council and Friends of Hemming Park to announce an agreement has been reached to manage Hemming Plaza.

"This public-private partnership to re-imagine and revitalize Hemming Plaza is great news not only for downtown," said Brown. "It's also great news for our entire city and for everyone who visits Jacksonville."

The City Council Hemming Plaza committee -- chaired by council member Denise Lee -- played a key role in assisting efforts to enhance programming at the park, according to the city. Brown applauded the group's leadership in making sure that Hemming Plaza becomes all that it can be.

"As the downtown representative, this is part of my district and ever since I've been in office; Hemming Park is something I saw we needed changed," said council member Don Redman. "This is our goal and I thank the mayor for his tenacity."

The city said Friends of Hemming Park will run the historic 1.5 acre public park in the center of downtown. The group's key priorities will include making the park safe and inviting, beautification, and increasing and organizing events.

The city of Jacksonville and DIA will invest $1 million for the first 18 months of a five-year management contract. City officials said this includes $200,000 from the city's Parks Department budget and $800,000 from the DIA. As part of the agreement, Friends of Hemming Park is required to raise $250,000 for the first term of 18 months.

Hemming Plaza was established in 1857 and is Jacksonville's oldest public park.

The proposed agreement will be filed with City Council for final approval.


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