In the summer of 2020, St. Johns Riverkeeper joined with Scenic Jacksonville, Greenscape of Jacksonville, the Late Bloomers Garden Club, and the Garden Club of Jacksonville to form the Riverfront Parks Now coalition. We realized that Jacksonville was facing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to turn downtown, city-owned property along the St. Johns into an iconic riverfront for all.
The group envisioned a connected network of extensive public green space and active parks along the downtown riverfront that prioritizes public access and reconnects the community to our river. We also recognized the importance of green spaces along our riverfront to provide a buffer that could help protect downtown from sea level rise and storm surge.
With the coalition now at 14 community organizations, the advocacy efforts of Riverfront Parks Now has helped convince City leaders and the business community of the value of investing in public spaces, especially those along our waterways. Late last year, Mayor Lenny Curry and the Jacksonville City Council passed a budget that includes nearly $100 million in capital spending to extend the riverwalk, improve bulkheads, and invest in destination riverfront parks, civic spaces, and marinas along downtown’s riverfront. At the recent Riverfront 2025 meeting to update the community on these exciting investments, nearly 400 people attended in person and over 100 online. There is clearly demand for access to our amazing St. Johns River!
As an outgrowth of the coalition, a new nonprofit, Riverfront Parks Conservancy, has been launched to provide support for the riverfront parks and riverwalk in downtown Jacksonville. Barbara Goodman, former St. Johns Riverkeeper Board member and retired Superintendent of the Timucuan Preserve, will Chair the organization’s Board.
Riverfront Parks Now has demonstrated the importance of community engagement, advocacy and collaboration. A special thanks is owed to Nancy Powell, the Executive Director of Scenic Jacksonville, for leading the coalition and leading the charge for a riverfront for all. Thanks to the efforts of this important coalition, you will have many more opportunities within the next few years to Get Your Feet Wet along the riverfront in Jacksonville!
Recent News Coverage
Mark Woods: Will hotel be Four Seasons? Bigger question is what rest of riverfront will be Florida Times Union, February 12, 2023
Riverfront 2025: Plans revealed for Riverfront and Downtown Jacksonville development Action News Jax, February 9, 2023
Riverfront 2025: City officials discuss plans for evolution of downtown Jacksonville News4Jax, February 8, 2023