Emerald Trail and Jacksonville Riverfront Selected to Join High Line Network

The Jacksonville projects are among 10 new members of the High Line Network, a community of nonprofit leaders representing industrial reuse projects, urban parks and public spaces. This is the first time that two intersecting projects have been added to the High Line Network at the same time. See news release.

Members of the High Line Network commit to creating a world where people have access to vibrant public spaces that center local communities, build civic connections, support environmental resilience, and foster equitable community development.

“Vibrant parks and public spaces are an integral part of our strategy for growth and development in Downtown Jacksonville and capitalizing on the momentum we’re already seeing,” said Lori Boyer, CEO of the Downtown Investment Authority. “Membership in the High Line Network allows our community’s leaders to access world-class peer-learning opportunities that we can apply to helping our parks system be as welcoming and active as it can be.”

“This membership is an exciting new resource to help our Parks become the world-class public spaces that we know they can be,” said Daryl Joseph, Director of the City of Jacksonville Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department. “We’re grateful to our nonprofit partners at Groundwork Jacksonville, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund and the Riverfront Parks Conservancy for their tireless work in enhancing and promoting our parks system. We look forward to continuing to work together for the benefit of all Jaxsons.”

The High Line Network membership is exclusively open to nonprofit organizations reusing infrastructure as public spaces, in all stages of development. Groundwork Jacksonville, the city’s nonprofit partner in building the Emerald Trail and restoring McCoys Creek and Hogans Creek, is the membership lead for the 30-mile Emerald Trail.

“We have reached out to many High Line members over the years, such as Miami Underline, Atlanta Beltline and Houston’s Buffalo Bayou to learn from them, so we are excited and honored to now be a member of this great network. This opportunity will provide so many new resources and access to experts who have successfully accomplished many of the things we aspire to achieve,” said Kay Ehas, CEO of Groundwork Jacksonville. “While we have much to learn, I hope to also provide value to others as we share our experiences along this ambitious journey to build the Emerald Trail, restore our urban creeks and strengthen our urban neighborhoods.”

The Emerald Trail will connect to the Riverfront in four places – on the Eastside at Hogans Creek, along Hogan Street at Riverfront Plaza, Brooklyn at the outfall of McCoys Creek and at the Riverside Arts Market. “Jacksonville is fortunate to have two projects accepted to the High Line Network that share a common goal of creating an active, vibrant, resilient and connected downtown. I think this will heighten our collaboration and lead to increased benefits for the community,” added Ehas.

The Jacksonville Riverfront membership will be co-led by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund and the newly-formed Riverfront Parks Conservancy, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the stewardship, activation, enjoyment and ongoing improvement of the riverwalk and downtown riverfront parks. Working through a Friends of the Park Agreement with the City of Jacksonville, The Conservancy will collaborate with City of Jacksonville Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, and all other organizations working to make downtown riverfront a more accessible, vibrant place for all to enjoy. This selection is the latest mark of progress along the Riverfront since the unveiling of the Riverfront Activation Plan in August 2022.

“The duPont Fund, the Riverfront Parks Conservancy, and JaxParks are establishing partnership frameworks for an activated Riverfront and the shared resources and expertise of the High Line Network will be pivotal as we navigate this new approach to elevate the Downtown Riverfront,” said Sondra Fetner, Director of Placemaking for the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. “Jacksonville has a unique opportunity to harness the collective power of our City departments, nonprofit organizations and Downtown businesses to fully activate our incredible Riverfront.”

Leading the group as Chair of the Board and Interim Director is Barbara Goodman, a respected parks administrator with more than 30 years of National Park Service experience. The Conservancy is in the process of building its Board of Directors and fundraising to hire a full-time executive director. The Conservancy will launch a new website in the coming weeks, available at www.riverparkjax.org.

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund is a private foundation that works to expand access to opportunity and create inclusive growth for the people, organizations and communities that Jessie Ball duPont knew and loved. We envision a world in which every member of those communities feels they belong, and is engaged in shaping the future of their community. We use our grantmaking, investments, research and partnerships to increase equitable access to opportunities and resources for members of society who have historically been excluded, and placemaking to
build stronger communities where all voices are heard and valued. Learn more at www.dupontfund.org.