Just weeks after the approval of Jarboe Park’s master plan, a new trailhead building and recreational trail in the park is already in the design phase.
The city of Neptune Beach and Ish Brandt Beautification Committee are working together to create a trailhead and a 1,050-foot long paved trail connecting Jarboe Park to the East Coast Greenway. The trailhead building will include permanent restrooms and a directional kiosk sign. The new recreational trail will start from the building and run along Florida Boulevard from Fifth Street to A1A.
Neptune Beach Deputy City Manager Amanda Askew said the city’s overall goal is to connect the recreational trail to the city’s section of the East Coast Greenway, which ends at Camellia Terrace and Florida Boulevard.
Both the trailhead and trail are funded by a $160,000 Recreational Trails Program grant, which is funded by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Federal Highway Administration. The city received the grant late summer, and is a joint effort by Neptune Beach Mayor Elaine Brown, Ish Brandt Beautification Committee President Josh Messenger and the city of Jacksonville. They worked with Colin Moore, city of Jacksonville grant writer, who found and applied for the grant.
Brown said the trailhead building and trail has always been part of the park’s master plan. She talked with the director of Northeast Florida Girl Scouts about tearing down the Beaches Little House for the trialhead building. The Girl Scouts transferred ownership of the building to Neptune Beach in early November.
While the building will be torn down, the city is also working on funding to add a multipurpose room and kitchenette to the trailhead building. It will be open to use by the public for a small rental fee.
“This fits perfectly into it because it gets us the building and one of the trails,” said Brown. “So it’s a wonderful asset to us as we’re redoing the park.”
The trailhead building is currently in the design phase and Brown said the city council should get renderings in a few weeks. The final decision on the design and build of the facility will be up to the city council.
Messenger said the long term plan with the city has been to collect enough money to either renovate the Girl Scouts building or tear it down and build a brand new facility. This trailhead and trail will give the park much needed restroom facilities and connectibility.
He worked closely with Moore and Buck Pittman, of Jacksonville’s Pittman Landscape Architecture and designer of Jarboe Park master plan, in the grant writing process. Some of the park’s earlier concepts were driven by the grant.
Messenger said the grant would kickstart development of Jarboe Park and prevent the plans from going on a shelf once it was approved. The city was able to secure the grant by presenting the building and trail as part of a larger redesign of Jarboe Park, with the grant money kickstarting the redesign.
“The community deserves it. It really does,” said Messenger. “It has the potential, and it will be such a beautiful space where you can go and have a cup of coffee, read a book and watch children play on safe equipment and just have a great leaning environment, too. It’s really exciting.”
The Ish Brandt Beautification Committee is also working on private fundraising to keep redevelopment of Jarboe Park going. It has some fundraisers in the works and Messenger said he’s already gotten interest from members of the community willing to donate.
Along with the grant, the Ish Brandt Beautification Committee raised a total of $13,500 toward park redevelopment. It was raised through a combination of funding from the city, the Ish Brandt Beatification Committee and in-kind contributions from Buck Pittman. Neptune Beach City Manager Andy Hyatt is also seeking proposals to fund the redevelopment plans from the direction of the city council.
The final Jarboe Park master plan was passed by the city council on Nov. 6. The master plan includes features such as parking lots, a children’s garden and community garden area, a 36,000 square-foot event and multi-use lawn, eight Pickleball courts, two tennis courts, a basketball court, a 10-foot wide multi-use path around the perimeter of the park, pavilion space for Green Market, and a separate playground area for younger and older children.