By Elaine Omann
If legislation introduced by District 11 Council Member Danny Becton is passed, 9A Baymeadows Regional Park will get a new name: Fort Family Regional Park at Baymeadows. Upon the bill’s passage, the city and Perimeter Realty, a subsidiary of Fort Family Investments, will enter into an agreement where the company agrees to pay $100,000 to the city annually for 10 years, for enhancements and improvements to the park. This money is not intended for routine maintenance.
Finding the park requires winding through the neighborhood between the Baymeadows and Gateway exits on the east side of Interstate 295. There are no visible direction signs until one comes to the entrance.
Upon entering the park there are many options for park use, including a soccer field, courts, covered picnic areas, trails, and a lake with a paved trail that follows the edge. At this time the water lilies are ready to bloom in the picturesque lake.
Recently, new tennis courts and pickleball courts have opened. These courts are attracting people from even outside the Southside neighborhood. The courts, which can be reserved at the desk, include a viewing stand and close proximity to the restrooms, vending machines, and parking.
Pickleball is drawing people from all over the city. The sport is increasing in popularity, and at this time, more than one thousand Jacksonvillians have joined in the sport and are members of the USA Pickleball Association. Those playing at the first permanent courts built would like to see additional courts added to meet the demand.
Across the road from the courts a lake is visible and it follows the edge of the park to the open area where covered picnic areas are located. Three young men who were fishing claim there are largemouth bass in the fresh water. They had found the information and location of the park on a fishing website (http://fishingjacksonville.net/jacksonville-fishing-spots/9a-baymeadows-regional-park) which also states that bream are found in the water and that it is a good place to bring children to fish.
The picnic area is large and open. Two technician teams from the Northside of the city had parked their vans and were enjoying a game of hoops and an evening with food after work. This park is large and has facilities that can accommodate a large group.
The open fields are marked for soccer and other types of games that can be played by local teams and neighbors. When not in use for team sports, residents can be seen playing and running with their dogs. People are respectful of this park and regular visitors say it is safe, clean, and friendly for park users.
In the back area where there are swings and equipment for children, a one-year-old was celebrating his birthday with family and friends. Grandma, who lives out of state and found the park online, selected the park because of the variety of activities available.
Visit www.dannybecton.org/parks for updated information on the legislation to change the name of the park and the resultant additional annual funding.
Photo courtesy Elaine Omann
New pickleball courts have opened.