Annual report for Riverside Annual Preservation, 2008.
Annual report for Riverside Annual Preservation, 2008.
ANNUAL REPORT 2008 A NEW FOUNDATION FOR FUTURE GROWTH Riverside Avondale Preservation Since its founding in 1974, RAP has been an advocate for active preservation of our neighborhood’s historical assets. In countless meetings with residents, developers and city officials, RAP has worked to ensure that Riverside Avondale’s unique qualities are maintained. We’re proud of how we’ve been able to shape change in the district, balancing preservation with progress, and helping to bring new vibrancy to areas of the district that had previously been in decline.
Most years, RAP’s work takes place behind the scenes, such as early efforts to guide the design of the Riverside Market Square to ensure that neighboring structures weren’t overwhelmed. But 2008 was different. This was a year in which the organization’s accomplishments were abundant and obvious.
On the preservation front, we’re happy to report the successful sale this past December of the John Gorrie Middle School. Since closing 17 years ago, the historic Mediterranean Revival building had been poorly maintained and has suffered major damage; it represented a big hole in a part of our district that is working hard to revitalize itself. RAP has long sought a better use for the building, and has worked actively with school board officials and interested parties to find creative solutions for its reuse. The new owners have pledged to restore the building to its former glory.
Improved RAP’s organizational fitness to create solid foundation for pursuing grants to meet our mission
RAP has also been busy getting its own house in order. We’ve been undertaking a soup-to-nuts reorganization so as to better meet the challenges we and the district face.
Most notably, we’ve hired a new Executive Director who has brought incredible energy and talent to the position. Under Carmen Godwin’s guidance, RAP has acquired new computers, updated its software systems, and implemented vital upgrades to our historic district and volunteer databases, as well as our membership and donor records. We’ve also undertaken a thorough review and reworking of our operational procedures, organizational structure, Board processes and Bylaws. By adopting a best-practices approach, we are better able to pursue grant opportunities that can help us meet our mission.
After years of effort, we also launched in 2008 a major new Website that is resource-rich and presents visitors with a terrific introduction to the district. Combined with a refocused RAP newspaper that is ably edited by former TU editor Lilla Ross, these changes represent a significant improvement in our ability to communicate with, and receive feedback f r om, our membership.
Worked with City to encourage repair of the Riverside Park fountains and Boone Park playground equipment.
Created Riverside Arts Market Business and Marketing Plan and won City Council approval of a concept that has been in development for 15 years.
On June 24, 2008, after several years of planning and development, the Riverside Avondale Zoning Overlay was officially enacted by the Jacksonville City Council.. The Zoning Overlay will enhance the city’s zoning code by adding special provisions for the Riverside Avondale Historic District that establish guidance for building height, scale and setback, as well as public spaces, parking, density, garages and outdoor cafes.
RAP has also worked with the city to begin a significant reforestation effort. Beginning in December, the city began planting Live Oak, Crepe Myrtle and Drake Elm trees in the right-of-ways on Gilmore, Ernest, Myra and Stockton Streets. Trees will also be installed on Forbes Street from Margaret to Acosta, College and Post from Margaret to Willowbranch, and on Park, Riverside, St. Johns, Herschel, Margaret and McDuff.
Much of RAP’s day-to-day work is dedicated to responding to community concerns. We work hard to listen to all sides and to formulate an effective response. For example, when the absentee owner of a 93-year-old building sought a variance that would have allowed him to install vinyl siding on the structure, RAP rallied stakeholders to fight a change that would have undermined historic preservation ordinances. When homeowners along Post and College streets complained of rising traffic problems, we surveyed area residents and analyzed police report data in an effort to find a resolution. When the owner of a local landmark building wanted to modernize historic signage, we worked to resolve resident concerns about the appropriateness of this change. And we’ve worked with residents to help them voice reservations about proposed High Density zoning changes that could negatively impact our unique village atmosphere.
One of RAP’s founding goals is to maintain our neighborhood’s exceptional quality of life. We believe that the annual tours and festivals we sponsor help reinforce and renew the sense of community that sets our district apart.
Happily, each of our three events this year were outstanding successes. We featured a diverse and much-admired collection of architectural styles during our Spring Home Tour, enjoyed record attendance despite some pretty steamy weather at the Riverside Arts Festival, and sponsored a spectacular Christmas Luminaria.
Painted the historic exterior and repaired wood rot
Professional home inspection completed
Historic assessment and window surveys completed
Removed chain link fence
Formulating plan for significant restoration of house
Artifacts from Buckland Family inventoried and properly stored or prepared for display.
Ohio collection transferred to Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library
Resource Initiative underway to make reference materials more accessible for membership
Buckland House Renewal Although preservation has always been RAP’s mission, because the organization has lived hand to mouth for so long, our own historic headquarters has been neglected. In 2008, we began working toward our goal of making Buckland House a showcase for historic preservation.
Completed intensive visioning process to help chart RAP’s future course
Building a New Foundation Finally, and perhaps most significantly even in this year of major change, RAP has completed a Strategic Planning process that will help both the organization and its membership chart the path to a better, stronger, and more vibrant district. Much of 2009 will be dedicated to building this new foundation.