Programs designed to encourage use of parks and amenities
Today Mayor Alvin Brown announced the People + Parks Connection designed to get residents out and about in Jacksonville’s parks; to hike new and improved park trails, launch kayaks from newly designated sites and swim safely in Jacksonville pools, rivers and beaches.
The initiative includes new signage and directional blazing on nearly 45 miles of trail at seven parks and 3 ½ miles of new trails at two parks. It also includes 10 newly designated kayak/canoe launch sites on the St. Johns River, its tributaries and the Intracoastal Waterway.
In addition, the mayor announced his Waterproof Jacksonville program, which this summer will include at least two weeks of swim lessons at every outdoor public pool in an effort to reduce accidental drowning.
The mayor’s trail initiative provides a 21st century experience for hikers, who will be able to click on QR (quick response) codes at trail kiosks at 10 parks that will link them to a trail map and a video welcome by the mayor followed by a brief video tour of the park led by the park naturalist.
“We want people to feel more comfortable hiking, biking or horseback riding on our trails,” the mayor said.
The mayor announced partnerships with the Sierra Club Northeast Florida Group and SORBA Jax, the local affiliate of the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association.
The Sierra Club will begin leading monthly trail hikes on the second Saturday of the month as well as help with trail projects.
“I'm delighted we're kicking off this collaboration for "2nd Saturday Outings" in City of Jacksonville Parks & Preserves,” said Tom Larson, treasurer of Sierra Club Florida. “Getting people into our outdoors and helping them appreciate what we have and where we are is a main part of our mission: Explore, Enjoy, Protect.”
SORBA Jax is creating new bike trails at Tillie Fowler Regional Park, where the mayor made his announcement, and has built and maintained bike trails at Hanna Park. The group is working with JaxParks to develop bike trails as well as more challenging bike features in other parks throughout the city.
As for the newly designated kayak/canoe launch sites, the mayor said access is essential for residents to be able to get out on the water and enjoy one of Northeast Florida’s most important natural resources and what amounts to a gigantic water park. Access is important as well for small businesses that provide equipment and services for outdoor recreation and eco-tourism.
With the Waterproof Jax program, JaxParks will rotate its swimming instructors to every public pool this summer to provide every child in the city an opportunity to learn to swim. Previously, instruction has been offered at only10 outdoor pools.
“When I talk about making Jacksonville a destination, I’m talking about programs and initiatives like these that build upon our community’s assets and highlight the best of what Northeast Florida has to offer,” said Mayor Brown. “By highlighting our region’s assets, and improving access to them, we make one of the biggest park systems in America into one of the best.”