For Immediate Release Contact: Michele Luthin
Memorial Park Association
Memorial Park balustrade repairs planned for 2020
City of Jacksonville waiting for FEMA funds
Jacksonville, FL, November 5, 2019 – Hurricane Irma’s September 2017 temper tantrum may be a faint memory to many Jacksonville residents but the impact of her swath of destruction lingers yet in Memorial Park, where visitors are raising concerns about the current state of disrepair along the park’s seawall.
The iconic balustrade, which lines the river’s edge, was destroyed during the Category 2 hurricane Sept. 11, 2017. After being flooded, the park’s centerpiece sculpture, Life, was evaluated in March 2018 by the professional team at McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory Inc., which noted salt deposits in the pores of the bronze. The sculpture was reconditioned with great satisfaction in June 2018, but the park’s historic, decorative, concrete balustrade has yet to be replaced.
According to Daryl Joseph, City of Jacksonville Parks Director, in order to be reimbursed through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund, the plans to replace the balustrade must be reviewed by local, state and federal engineers, as well as environmental and historical experts prior to proceeding with the construction. “We are anticipating completion in Summer 2020,” said Joseph at an Oct. 24 town hall event hosted by District 14 Councilwoman Randy DeFoor.
The Parks Department said in an email that after the plans are approved a 30-day bid process will commence, followed by approximately three months for execution of the contract. “Construction should take less than six months after they start,” the email noted.
Supporters of Jacksonville’s World War I memorial, which represents the entire State of Florida, have expressed additional concerns about the park’s appearance, citing overflowing trash bins, landscaping needs and the plywood still left covering the excavation area in front of the fountain where the parchment scrolls listing the names of those known Florida Fallen in 1924 were unearthed in September 2018.
Michele Luthin, Memorial Park Association board member, indicated that the nonprofit relies on volunteers to keep an eye on the park’s needs, including daily replenishing of pet waste bags. Additionally, park visitors may email email@example.com to inform the association of issues that need to be addressed.
Memorial Park Association plans to re-bury the World War I scrolls – a list of more than 1,600 names of men and women who died during or after service in the Great War – as soon as the archival process is complete.
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About Memorial Park
The six-acre Olmsted Brothers designed park is located in historic Riverside at 1620 Riverside Avenue and was established in 1924 to honor all those Floridians who died in service during World War I. The U.S. Department of the Interior acknowledged the park as significant by listing Memorial Park in the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places in 2017, shortly after the United States World War I Centennial Commission designated the park’s bronze sculpture, Spiritualized Life, as a World War I Centennial Memorial.
About Memorial Park Association
Established in 1986, the Memorial Park Association is a nonprofit with the mission to enhance, promote and preserve Memorial Park as the premier historic park in the City of Jacksonville. In 2012, Memorial Park Association enlisted Atlanta-based landscape architect David Sacks, to create a Master Plan to rehabilitate Memorial Park to its original grandeur. In 2018, MPA achieved its capital campaign goal of $1.5 million to implement this Master Plan.
About The 1924 Florida Fallen Scrolls Project
During the Dec. 25, 1924 dedication of Memorial Park, scrolls listing 1,220 names of men and women who died in service during World War I – the Florida Fallen – were placed in a lead box, which was soldered shut and placed in a copper box, also soldered shut, then interred to honor and remember those fallen. In September 2018 the scrolls were unearthed, and their condition evaluated at St. Augustine-based L.A.M.P, by a paper conservator. The scrolls were then released to a leading authority, Dr. R.B. Rosenburg, Associate Dean and Professor of History, College of Arts & Sciences, Clayton State University, Morrow, Georgia, for the purpose of comparing those names listed on the scrolls to a list he had compiled at the request of MPA. His research resulted in a new tally of more than 1,600 Floridians to be counted among the Florida Fallen.