With the first phase of the 30-mile Emerald Trail around downtown Jacksonville on track to be built by 2020, the nonprofit Groundwork Jacksonville is looking to hire a trail project manager.
The new employee will oversee the design process and will work with a volunteer implementation committee to design the landscape for each facet of the trail.
Kay Ehas CEO, Groundwork JAX, said the job will start out part-time in July but will likely become a full-time position as the pace of the project picks up.
The first phase of the 30-mile trail will include a 1.3-mile Model Project that will connect the south end of the existing S-Line Rail Trail to the intersection of Park and Stonewall streets near the Prime Osborn Convention Center.
Groundwork Jacksonville developed the Emerald Trail Master Plan in collaboration with the PATH Foundation and KAIZEN Collaborative.
The trail will vary at different locations to fit neighborhood needs but almost all of the park will be off-street and will include low maintenance landscaping along with public art.
The trail will eventually link to 18 schools, two colleges and 28 parks among other destinations like restaurants, retail, and businesses, with an additional 20 schools and 21 parks located within three blocks of the trail.
The Hopes and Research
The new green belt for the city will be made for pedestrians and cyclists. It's envisioned to be a way for people to get around without using a car.
Ehas said, “This isn't just a transportation project it’s a health project, an economic project, recreation project, and a nature project. There’s so many benefits”.
Research shows that people who are out in nature for even 10-15 minutes a day improve their stress levels.
Concerns and Answers
Some have expressed concern about ensuring the safety of people using the Emerald Trail once it's completed. Among the question's raised on Wednesday's First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross: What sort of lighting will there be? Will there be call boxes like those on college campuses? Will there be a JSO bike patrol 24 hours a day?
Ehas said lighting is anticipated. "We will want to have lighting where we need it for everyone's safety. There may be call boxes but that's undecided but there will be markers in case you need to call someone and explain your location."
Saturday an Emerald Trail First Mile walk will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., starting at the Prime Osborn Convention Center at 1000 Water Street. Additional information about the walk is available on this Facebook page.
Samantha Kindler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6317 or on Twitter at @kindlersamantha.