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Councilwoman Boyer Discusses How To Improve Downtown Jacksonville's Riverfront At Meeting

Jacksonville city leaders are inching closer to a plan to revitalize the downtown Riverwalks after Hurricane Irma dealt them quite a blow last fall.

Councilmember Lori Boyer is working on a number of ideas for bringing more people to the Northbank riverfront downtown and on the Southbank:

“Provide connections across the river, provide connections to facilities people want to use and make it an experience where as you’re walking, you’re moving from one gem to another along a strand, interested and excited about what the next place may hold,” she said.

Boyer’s working with consultants who envision pocket parks, filled with native North Florida greenery, benches and placards explaining the history of the area.

Boyer also wants to finish repairs to the Southbank’s Friendship Fountain, adding more light fixtures that would create a synchronized light show in concert with a plan to add new LED lighting around the Times-Union Center across the river.

But first, Boyer said, the city needs to fix damaged Riverwalk stretches that have deteriorated following last year’s historic floods.

“City Council and the Waterways Commission members have been pushing those questions for months, trying to determine exactly where we are on the repairs, particularly on the docks at the Landing and the Performing Arts Center,” she said. “Those seem to be the worst.”

She said city leaders have been trying to wrangle federal emergency funds owed them to get the job done. 

Boyer says the plan is to then solicit private donations to build her so-called “gems,” with minimal city investment.

An update on hurricane-damaged waterways is scheduled for Wednesday’s Waterways Commission meeting.

Boyer didn’t have any cost estimates available Tuesday for the various projects cited in this story.

Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk

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.