Nonprofit Seeks Funds to Rebuild Westside Playground – The Resident Community News Group, Inc.
Avondale-based nonprofit, Friends of Jacksonville Playgrounds, is launching its most aggressive fundraising effort yet. The organization is seeking to raise more than $195,000 in private funds to supplement the city budget to demolish and rebuild the now-closed Ringhaver Park Playground located off 118th Street on the west side along the Ortega River and near the Yukon and Naval Air Station.
The site has been closed since 2019 due to flooding and deteriorating equipment, deeming it unsafe for children to play, according to Kim Clontz, founder of Friends of Jacksonville Playgrounds, who says the playground is on the city’s list of “playgrounds in need,” for several years.
“I remember taking my girls there about 10 years ago,” Clontz said. “But when I pulled into the parking lot last summer and saw how sad the space looked – chained doors, faded and moldy equipment and no kids playing – it broke me. the heart.”
Jill Enz, Chief of Natural and Marine Resources for the City of Jacksonville, and a consultant from gaming company Kompan worked with the nonprofit to design a fully wheelchair-accessible playground, including a play structure. 30 foot climbing and sliding boat called “The Giant”. , musical equipment, swings and low level play for anyone with a walker or wheelchair, all on a poured rubber surface. The demolition of the old playground, site preparation, installation and labor, in addition to the cost of equipment will cost over $650,000 to complete, a budget that will require public and private funding .
Friends of Jacksonville Playgrounds is a charitable organization dedicated to the art of play. The goal of Friends of Jax Playgrounds is to coordinate the components and various players involved to make a playground dream come true.
Other projects for the nonprofit include its first project at Boone Park in Avondale and six more projects at Pine Forest Elementary School Playground in San Jose, Whitehouse Playground in Whitehouse, Huffman Boulevard Playground in Sandalwood, Bruce Park in Arlington and Warrington Park and Lonnie C. Miller Playground on the Northside.
The city acquired the land comprising Ringhaver Park in 1971, 1972, 1996 and 2000. The park is named for Lambert C. Ringhaver (1910-1976), whose family made a memorial donation for the initial development of the park, which grew from 36 acres in 1977 to 576 acres in 2003. Mr. Ringhaver was the founder of Ring Power Corporation and served as president of the Florida Forestry Association, trustee of the University of Jacksonville and president of the Greater Jacksonville Open for two terms . The multipurpose park is home to the Westside Soccer Club and the Ortega Stream Valley Natural Area, which includes an 826-foot boardwalk along the Ortega River and a jetty that can be used to launch kayaks and canoes.
To learn more and support the efforts of Friends of Jacksonville Playgrounds, visit www.jaxplaygrounds.org.