From City of Jacksonville Press Release:
Parks, Waterways Improvements Move Forward
Groundwork USA, National Parks Service Advance Initiative for Springfield, East Jacksonville
Jacksonville, Fla., Oct. 29th, 2013 - Jacksonville's community-based initiative to improve parks and waterways in Springfield and East Jacksonville will move forward after being named one of three cities to be supported by Groundwork USA and the National Park Service.
The city’s initiative will receive pilot funding and technical assistance to launch Groundwork Jacksonville to protect and improve the quality of life near Hogans Creek and other areas in the urban core.
“Groundwork Jacksonville can help us work together to enhance the neighborhoods and environment for Hogans Creek, Springfield and East Jacksonville,” Mayor Alvin Brown said. “I’m proud of the partnership and hard work that has led us to this point, and look forward to seeing Jacksonville continue to find solutions that benefit our community.”
The Groundwork Jacksonville Steering Committee was formed by representatives from city government, and environmental, neighborhood and civic groups to explore how public-private partnerships and community-based leadership can help improve historic Springfield, Hogans Creek and adjacent parks. The group later expanded to include East Jacksonville neighborhoods and Deer Creek.
“I am so grateful for the hard work of the city employees and representatives of all the nonprofits who came together to submit this application,” said Christina Parrish, chair of the Steering Committee. “I am convinced that a Groundwork Trust is the ideal vehicle for restoring Henry Klutho’s beautiful Springfield park system and activating the Hogans Creek Greenway, which will be a tremendous asset to downtown Jacksonville and all of the urban core.”
Springfield and East Jacksonville are the most environmentally challenged neighborhoods in the city, with more than 18 large-scale contaminated sites and more than 150 leaking underground storage tanks. Restoring Hogans Creek and the bordering Springfield parks has been a goal of city leaders hoping to recreate the “emerald necklace” championed by famed architect Henry Klutho in the early 20th Century.
“I believe that this grant is going to increase the quality of life for the residents of Springfield, East Jacksonville and the community as a whole, thus creating a safe, nurturing and recreational environment for our children,” said Dr. Johnny Gaffney, who represents Springfield and East Jacksonville on the City Council.
The committee, which is supported by staff from the Mayor’s Office, JaxParks and the city’s Public Works Department, submitted a proposal in December to develop a sustainable partnership to improve Springfield. Representatives of NPS and Groundwork USA visited Jacksonville in May. More than two dozen local organizations submitted letters backing Jacksonville’s application.
"The Hogans Creek park system is a big part of the Springfield community. We're excited to be a part of this collaborative effort,” said Bill Hoff, president of Springfield Preservation and Revitalization (SPAR). "We have an opportunity to do something special with the Hogans Creek park system, and we're looking forward to the process moving forward."
In support of the application, Mayor Brown pledged to provide $50,000 annually to support the program’s development for three years if the City Council approves. The NPS will provide $80,000 to pay for the feasibility study and help Groundwork Jacksonville complete a three-year development process. If successful, a Groundwork Trust would be established as a non-profit eligible to receive grants that could pay for large-scale environmental cleanups such as those needed for Hogans and Deer creeks.
Jacksonville joins Atlanta and Indianapolis as one of three cities nationally selected to potentially join 19 others already in the Groundwork program.
Groundwork USA is a network of independent, not-for-profit, environmental businesses called Groundwork Trusts linked together by the Groundwork USA national office. Locally organized and controlled, Groundwork Trusts provide cost effective project development services focused on improving their communities; environment, economy and quality of life. Services include community planning, project management, design and construction, fundraising, and support for maintenance.
Each Trust represents a strong partnership between government, business, foundations, community groups and residents. Projects serve a common agenda and are designed to accomplish other goals such as job training and environmental education. All projects and activities of Groundwork are carried out through a creative mix of staff and volunteers to leverage resources and engage businesses and residents in the transformation of their own communities.