Improvements Coming to Community Park, Nichols Park, and MLK Memorial

By Jeremy Coumbes on September 28, 2022 at 3:02pm

Jacksonville’s two largest parks will see some needed attention this fall after a pair of major storms and one small fire over the last year.

The Jacksonville City Council approved funding for sprucing up both a memorial and a major sign in Community Park during last night’s regular meeting.

Parks Superintendent Adam Fletcher asked the council for permission to use leftover capital improvement funds for improvements to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the Jacksonville sign by the Ferris wheel.

Fletcher says making improvements to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial has been on his radar for a while now. He says the Jacksonville Chapter of the NAACP has asked if something could be done to improve the area around the memorial, and this year his department finally has the extra funding to make it happen.

It just needs a facelift. It’s the first memorial you really see when you pull into Community Park off of Main Street. So we want to upgrade that, make it little a little prettier, put some flowers around it, put some new lighting in there to shine on the memorial. And the benches there, they need to be upgraded.

So we’re going to do it tastefully, and keep our maintenance in mind with some perennials that we don’t have to replant every year and clean up after every year. We will do a lot of mulching and just make it pretty and make some color there. There’s a lot of green grass all around it and I want some color around the memorial.”

The Jacksonville sign will also receive new and improved lighting fixtures as well as some new landscaping. Fletcher says the old boxwood bushes between the sign and the Ferris wheel will also be replaced as they were nearing the end of their lifespan, but a recent fire near the sign damaged the bushes to the point of needing to be replaced.

I don’t know per se if it was really vandalism that really caused that. We’ve been having somewhat of a homeless problem in Community Park. There’s a power outlet back there and it was probably just an easy place for them to use as a power source.

It wasn’t a very large fire and it was contained very quickly and it didn’t spread anywhere. It did damage three of our big bushes back there so they are in needing to be replaced now.”

Fletcher says the extra funds were available this year after a large mower he budgeted for was put on backorder until into the next fiscal year, so this year’s budget had the room to make the improvements.

Also approved last night was the annual fall tree planting program the Parks Department undertakes each year. Fletcher says the focus this year will be on replacing trees at Community Park and Nichols Park after both parks suffered major tree losses in the last year.

We lost probably about forty-five trees between last October’s storm and just this one recently. So I’m hoping to get about fifty to seventy new trees with this purchase. But it all kind of depends, I’m going to try to do the best that I can and get as many trees as I can for the money. We’re probably going to split them up pretty evenly just because we have been losing trees in Community Park as well.”

Fletcher also updated the council on plans to install security cameras in the various parks around Jacksonville. He says the project has been paused for now, as the city is planning to update cameras at City Hall.

Fletcher says he would like to utilize the same system for the parks, so when an emergency happens, alerts will go straight to the dispatch center instead of to him or his office, which would then need to call it in to dispatch anyway.