March 7, 2021
In The Public Interest
photo of stage area with park behind
Credit: Robert Arleigh White

Metro Park — Death by 1000 cuts?

Riverfront Parks Now opposes breaking up Metro Park

On Wednesday, February 17 at 2pm, the Downtown Investment Authority (DIA) will consider Resolution 2021-02-02. If approved, DIA will grant Iquana Investments — a Shad Khan company — access to the Kids Kampus to conduct environmental testing on the property, a required precursor to commercial development.

According to a recent Florida Times-Union article, Iquana and the Jaguars intend to build a Four Seasons Hotel on the Kids Kampus property. https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/local/2021/02/12/jaguars-four-seasons-hotel-plan-doesnt-depend-met-park-land-swap/6741376002/

Comprising the western 8-acre portion of what locals consider Metropolitan Park, the Kids Kampus is not protected by the City’s standing agreement with the National Park Service to forever keep the Park from being commercially developed. That agreement covers just 14.3 acres adjacent to WJCT, commonly referred to as the “festival lawn.”

The entire current park property — the festival lawn and the Kids Kampus — comprises 23 acres along the river, and in its heyday hosted Jacksonville’s impressive JazzFest, Shakespeare at the Met, the Symphony’s Starry Nights, as well as additional outdoor music festivals featuring Southern Rock and Country. The Kids Kampus was a popular destination along the river for families with children.

Riverfront Parks Now, a growing coalition of 10 civic organizations representing thousands of citizens, is asking the public to oppose the DIA resolution, recognizing that commercial development of the property will rob locals of the opportunity to maintain public access and ownership, and to create something distinctive, inviting, and resilient.

Information on how to participate in the DIA meeting, which will take place on Wednesday, February 17 at 2pm, may be found at Riverfront Parks Now website: https://www.riverfrontparksnow.org/2021/02/its-time-to-save-all-of-metropolitan-park/

The coalition has developed an alternative vision for the St. John’s downtown Northbank, one that challenges assumptions made by Jacksonville’s developer class and is informed by the City’s on-going flooding challenges. Other cities, according to RPN’s research, have successfully created iconic downtown riverfront parks that protect property from flooding, allow for public gatherings, and spur economic development. Access RPN’s presentation: https://www.riverfrontparksnow.org/2020/12/presenting-riverfront-parks-now/

Written by
Sherry Magill

Sherry Magill is a community leader and retired private foundation executive. She is a co-founder of Jaxlookout.

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Written by Sherry Magill

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