Who We Are

Riverfront Parks Now is a citizen-led initiative consisting of representatives from non-profit organizations including Duval Audubon Society, Garden Club of Jacksonville, Greenscape, Jacksonville Urban League, Late Bloomers Garden Club, League of Women Voters, Memorial Park Association, Scenic Jacksonville, Sierra Club of Northeast Florida, and the St. Johns Riverkeeper.

The initiative is led by a seven-member steering committee, along with representatives from each of the coalition non-profits. Steering committee:  Barbara Ketchum, chair, Nancy Powell, project manager, Jimmy Orth, Susan Caven, Michael Kirwan, Barbara Goodman, and Ted Pappas

How We Started:  Taking a fresh look at our Downtown Riverfront

The seeds of Riverfront Parks Now were planted among resiliency and revitalization conversations in early 2020.  Given the flooding from Irma and sea level rise, a small group began to meet regularly to discuss how we can make our city more resilient to flooding and sea level rising.  How can we make our city more inviting and beautiful, and one that people visit more frequently and spend more time when they are there?

At the same time, we recognized a number of converging factors that allowed for a fresh look and sense of urgency about our riverfront opportunities.  In 2019, both the Landing and the old Courthouse were torn down, and in 2020 the development rights expired on the Shipyards.  An analysis showed that more than 50% of the riverfront was now city-owned, in contrast to the remaining riverfront in Duval County that is 90% privately owned. Other key events showed a need to act with a sense of urgency.

  • A bill had been filed by the city to attempt to sell back Metropolitan Park in order to give the property to Shad Khan’s development company.

  • A City Council resiliency special committee was formed to address sea level rise.

  • The pandemic brought unprecedented grief, but also ushered in a renewed awareness of the importance of public green space for cities.

View a map of publically owned riverfront property downtown

We set about to learn from other cities, and what we found was that in almost every city with a river or waterfront, these cities have created significant, iconic waterfront parks and extensive green spaces for all to enjoy.  And these places have become the centerpiece for a revitalization of the core city.

Our Mission

All Great Cities Have Great Parks

Jacksonville has a unique, once in a lifetime opportunity to turn downtown city-owned property into an iconic riverfront for all. Imagine a gathering place for the community that stimulates surrounding economic development and makes our city more resilient for generations to come.

We envision a connected network of extensive public green space and active parks along Jacksonville’s downtown riverfront that maximizes public access, reconnects the community to our river and creates a sense of place.

Benefits

  • Creates opportunities for recreation and community engagement, improves wellness and public health.

  • Attracts residents and businesses, spurs private investment and job growth, enhances property values.

  • Provides critical infrastructure to ensure resiliency for downtown.

Guiding Principles

  • Create an inviting and inclusive waterfront for all.

  • Involve the public in creating a shared vision.

  • Integrate resiliency and sustainable design.

  • Use riverfront public spaces as a catalyst for economic development.

  • Ensure a commitment to ongoing improvements and maintenance.