Mayor Expands Park-Based Crime Prevention Initiatives

May 18, 2015  
Mayor Alvin Brown announcing further expansion to the Summer Urban parks Initiatives and hours at community senters and gymnasiums to help combat youth crime and violence in an event at Westside Park

Hours Extended at 14 Community Centers and Gyms 

As part of continuing efforts to stop gang violence, Mayor Alvin Brown today announced he will expand summer hours at 14 community centers and gyms, and add four additional parks to his Summer Urban Parks/Rec ‘n Roll initiative. 

The expansion is as follows:
 

  • Hours will be extended until 9 p.m., Monday through Friday at the following community centers: Balis, C.T. Brown, Dinsmore, H.T. Jones, Julian Barrs, Oceanway and Windy Hill.
 
  • Hours will be extended until 10 p.m., Monday through Friday at the following gyms: Cecil, Cuba Hunter, Emmett Reed, Legends, M.L. Gibbs, and Robert Kennedy.
 
  • Also, the Charlie Joseph Senior Center near Panama Park will open to youth from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday. The center, which until now only served seniors, previously closed at 5 p.m.
 
  • The four parks that will join 18 others already announced as part of this summer’s Rec ’N Roll program are Burnett Park, Criswell Park, Mitchell Center and Westside Park.
 
“We must take every action to provide opportunities for our young people and prevent violence in Jacksonville. Expanding hours at local parks enhances the chances for our children to grow and develop, and continues my commitment to enhance our quality of life,” said Mayor Brown at Westside Park, one of the parks where summer programs will expand.
 
“It’s certainly timely and appropriate that we extend the hours, especially during the summer months when kids don’t have as much to do. Parents will be able to know their kids are safe,” said Councilman Warren Jones, whose district includes three of the parks added for Rec ’N Roll.
 
Jones said parks historically have provided positive activities and places that help young people stay out of trouble. He said he spent every day at the park when he was a boy.
 
Expanded hours at the community centers will provide teens with a place to play ball, games and other activities under the supervision of adult staff. The four new Rec ‘N Roll sites will be supervised by coaches and retired coaches who will referee games, supervise activities and provide mentoring to participants.
 
Today’s action is the latest step in Mayor Brown’s effort to give young people positive alternatives and safe places to gather with adult supervision when school is out. 
 
At the January 2015 Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast, Mayor Brown announced that he would re-open five community centers (Blue Cypress, Joe James, Lew Brantley, Lewis-Cobb and Westside) and extend the hours of operation at another center (Johnnie Walker) for afterschool and summer programming.
 
The mayor also announced in January that he would expand his Summer Urban Parks/Rec ‘n Roll initiative from 10 parks in 2014 to 18 parks in 2015.  The program provides adult-supervised recreation activities for eight weeks in high-crime neighborhoods. Within a half-mile radius of all but one of the parks, crime rates declined during the time the Rec 'N Roll Jax program was in operation during the summer of 2014.
 
Last week, Mayor Brown, local attorney Steve Pajcic, and Edward Waters College President Nat Glover announced that the 2015 Summer Urban Initiative/Rec ‘n Roll parks will be Bruce, Carvill, Charles Clark, Clanzel T. Brown, Grunthal, Johnnie Walker, Julius Guinyard, Lem Merrett, Panama, Pine Forest, Ray Greene, Tallulah, Thomas Jefferson, Warrington, Willowbranch, Woodstock, and Yancey. The mayor also said the U.S. Department of Justice agreed to provide a team to assist Jacksonville, including resources from the National Gang Center.