Jacksonville's James Weldon Johnson Park getting redesigned
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The Friends of James Weldon Johnson Park board just approved a three-year strategic plan Wednesday.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — What does your dream park look like and how could it fit in the heart of downtown Jacksonville?

It’s the first day of action to revamp the city’s oldest public park: James Weldon Johnson Park. The Friends of James Weldon Johnson Park board just approved a three-year strategic plan Wednesday.

The big question is what will the park look like?

“I think that the park will be totally different in three years,” said Liz McCoy, executive director of Friends of James Weldon Johnson Park.

McCoy says 1977 was the last time the park was redesigned. She calls it the heart of the city and to get the heart beating with a new life, a new redesign project now moves forward.

“We don’t have a design currently in our minds,” McCoy said. “We only have talked about what we want and hope for the park to be.”

For this space that hosts more than 300 events every year, McCoy is hoping for a stage with a permanent sound and lighting system and a café with bathrooms. Expect to see a dedication to civil rights leader and poet James Weldon Johnson.

“We also want to be the place where history happens,” McCoy said.

Throughout the years the park has been seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s the site of Ax Handle Saturday and has a historical marker for the Great Fire of 1901. McCoy wants the redesign to amplify its history.

“We want to be the spot where people’s voices are heard,” she said. “And that is what the central park of any city should be.”

The nonprofit will be fundraising and raising awareness about the park’s new name as of 2020. The base of a Confederate monument remains in the center of the park, though the statue of a Confederate soldier was removed in 2020.

Look out for public meetings and a suggestion box in the park. You can also email your redesign ideas to [email protected] or email McCoy directly at [email protected]

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