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Historic Green Cove Springs Secures State Funding For Park Improvements

Green Cove Springs

The city of Green Cove Springs is getting state money to refurbish the park that once made it famous.

After decades of disrepair, Spring Park will receive $2.6 million in improvements, including a new concessions building, a concert venue and a children’s water park.

Clay County’s Green Cove Springs has been known throughout history for its role in the 1920s Harlem Renaissance and for its natural beauty.

But Mayor Van Royal said some of the biggest attractions need some work. Last fall, he walked next to the park’s natural spring, pointing out needed repairs.

“We’re going to redo this to where actually it becomes a hard barrier in here at a depth about this much lower," Royal said. "Then the water will come up, bubble over rocks ... so you can actually easily reach in, be a part of it and see what a spring actually looks like in a natural setting.”

Royal said the city tried getting the $250,000 in state funding last year, but a fight between lawmakers made the project an easy target of the governor’s veto pen. But this year, Royal said, the city tried a different approach in Tallahassee.

“We went through the springs restoration process, which this is certainly a springs restoration — trying to protect the springs we have in the state,” Royal says.

The state funding will cover a small piece of the project. Clay County has set aside about $700,000 dollars already, and the city is expected to contribute roughly $1.3 million. The remaining balance will be covered through private donations and other city funds.

“So the entire project is going to be — once it’s all said and done — a total of about $2.6 million,” Royal said.

Once completed, the park will have a large concessions building with a second-floor deck for entertainment, a children’s “splash park” and possibly a kayak and canoe launch where the park meets the St. Johns River.

The project is expected to be completed in September. 

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.