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Completion Of Southbank Riverwalk Renovations In Sight

Kevin Meerschaert

The reconstruction of Jacksonville's Southbank Riverwalk may be completed way sooner than expected.Last month director of the Jacksonville Public Works Department Jim Robinson talked with WJCT about the demolition of the nearly 30-year-old wooden structure known as the Southbank Riverwalk.

Years of planning leaned towards construction of a new more durable platform. The structure was designed with extended sections for events and a floating dock for recreational boaters and kayakers to come and go.

Due to budgetary constraints, the city was unable to reconstruct the full length of the walk in one project.

The original path stretched from the Friendship Fountain east to the school board property.

“We’ll be demolishing the entire structure in phases but the new improved concrete structure will be built only from the Friendship Fountain around to about midway,” Robinson said.

The 900 feet of unfinished walk was to be fenced off for public safety starting at the Wyndham Hotel until further funding was received.

David DeCamp, director of communications for Mayor Alvin Brown, said Councilwoman Denise Lee disclosed at a committee meeting yesterday that she would support new legislation providing additional money to the Riverwalk.

“The ultimate goal is to get it fully replaced,” said DeCamp. "It’s a key asset to the community; this is going to be a significant upgrade by creating a concrete promenade that will have inlaid brick, additional space for bikers, walkers, joggers to enjoy our riverfront."

If the City Council approves legislation, Jacksonville would be granted the $2 million to complete the undeveloped walk.

The existing contract from the Friendship Fountain to the hotel provides for nearly $15 million.

The project has been under construction since November. The city estimates a finalization by early December.

Other features of the Riverwalk are potentially a Navy Memorial Fountain, pet drinking fountains, shaded lounge structures, LED lighting and more.

“It’s going to enhance our river, it’s going to enhance our downtown, it’s going to enhance the perception that residents and visitors to Jacksonville have to what’s already a great city,” said DeCamp.

You can follow Scott Harrison on Twitter @Sharrison983.

WJCT News Intern Scott Harrison is a Journalism Major at Flagler College. He also reports for the college's campus news website, The Gargoyle.