DOWNTOWN SPRUCED UP

Volunteers clean up downtown to keep One Spark headquarters presentable

Volunteers cleaning up Hemming Plaza
Alyssa Bourgoyne
Posted

The city of Jacksonville is in full swing with preparations to make downtown the best possible venue for One Spark 2014.

With news that the world’s crowd-funding festival is going global with a second event in Berlin and more to follow, the city’s volunteer efforts to clean up downtown are ongoing to ensure the headquarters of One Spark remains presentable.

Recently more than 100 volunteers surfaced around Hemming Plaza -the heart of downtown Jacksonville and located directly across from City Hall – and planted new flowerbeds throughout Hemming Plaza.

“We’ve been planning this cleanup for some time and our deadline was to have it done before One Spark to help showcase the city and its beauty,” said Wayne Wood, the founder of Friends of Hemming Plaza, whose volunteers were on hand for the beautification. “We have a really good relationship with One Spark.”

While maintenance is always a challenge for public spaces, public and private investors have come together and donated thousands of dollars to help start the process. Wells Fargo provided a grant of $35,000 as part of the Neighborhood LIFT program.

Indeed downtown is improving, especially the 20 square blocks that will be showcased during One Spark. As the crowd-funding festival closes in on downtown Jacksonville, more efforts are underway to create the best possible venue for One Spark 2014.

Wood’s grand vision is to restore the plaza as one of the city’s top urban park areas. He would love to recreate Hemming Plaza as it appeared in the 1970s before it was paved.

And, there’s more he’d love to add. Wood wants Hemming Plaza to become a city attraction with food, art, beautiful landscaping, shows and events and 24-hour security.

“We want to show the city we care. We (Friends of Hemming Plaza) have a grand vision for the plaza,” he said. “We want to give it more life.”

This story was reported by Ignite Media, an independent news bureau created by University of North Florida students.

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