The St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners announced to Historic City News today that the Bird Island Park Board of Directors and countless community supporters are celebrating the groundbreaking of Bird Island Park.
The park is a passive, nature-themed park to be built behind the Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library, made possible through a unique citizen/government partnership.
Bird Island Park began as a concept in 2002 when some Ponte Vedra residents sought to have a local park built in the community. The residents, led by Virginia Simpson, worked with St. Johns County to identify the vacant piece of land between the library and fire station. The County set aside some money for the park, but the community was asked to raise the majority of the necessary funds.
A non-profit 501c3 organization was formed in 2004, and the Bird Island Park volunteer Board of Directors to date has raised more than $400,000 for the construction of Bird Island Park with tremendous support from numerous businesses and individuals in the Ponte Vedra and northeast Florida community. In December 2008 the Board of Directors officially presented their funds to the County Commission, who then awarded a bid to Hager Construction for $532,092 to construct the first phase of Bird Island Park.
Now under construction, phase one will include the southern half of the boardwalk on the perimeter of the pond, an entrance feature, one gazebo, 100 percent native plantings, a turtle maze, a coastal dune area, a wetland area, pathways, additional parking and improved drainage. The construction is expected to be complete in June, and a community Grand Opening celebration is being planned for early summer.
Virginia Simpson, Chairperson of the Bird Island Park Board of Directors, can hardly believe construction has begun. “Bird Island Park has been a vision for many years. Our Board of Directors, St. Johns County, numerous donors and supporters have all come together to make this park a reality,” she said. “I am forever grateful to all who made it possible and hope to see the community and visitors enjoy Bird Island Park for many years to come.”
St. Johns County Commissioner Phil Mays, who represents Ponte Vedra, visited the park site on Wednesday along with the Board of Directors, several donors and county staff to tour the park location and ceremoniously break ground. He expressed appreciation for the public’s involvement and commitment to Bird Island Park. “The County commends the individuals who had a vision for this park and worked for several years to progress to this stage,” he said. “Bird Island Park is a wonderful example of citizens partnering with the local government for the good of the community.”
While the excitement builds as the first phase is underway, the Board of Directors still has the goal of raising an additional estimated $300,000 for the second phase of Bird Island Park. The additional features will include a storytelling area, children’s interactive art sculpture and play area, the northern half of the boardwalk, a second gazebo and additional art sculptures throughout the park. Anyone interested in making a tax-deductible donation may learn more at www.birdislandpark.org.
Both St. Johns County and the Board of Directors express deep gratitude to the individuals and corporations who have supported Bird Island Park with monetary and in-kind contributions. The cooperative spirit and joint efforts have made the park possible. Every donation, whether large or small, is meaningful and appreciated. A list of corporate donors is below:
Premier Corporate Supporters ($100,000)
MDI Holdings, Inc.
THE PLAYERS Championship
Major Corporate Supporters ($25,000 and up)
Bobby Weed Golf Design
Ponte Vedra Plastic Surgery
Corporate Supporters (up to $25,000)
Bank of America
Berry & Company
Callaghan Marketing & Public Relations
Cathey Portrie Gardens and Design
Florida Bank of Jacksonville
Friends Across the Sea
Manyu’s Boutique, Ltd.
Plantation Garden Circle
Ponte Vedra Bicycles
Ponte Vedra Garden Circle
Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Beach
Ware Group, Inc.
** Other individuals, corporations, and foundations have also made contributions. **
Groundbreaking Photo (holding shovels left to right): Duke Dubose, Hager Construction Project Manager; Terry Grooms, Vice-President of Winn-Dixie Foundation; Christina Abel, Director of Corporate Communications for MDI Holdings, Inc.; Virginia Simpson, Chairperson of the Bird Island Park Board of Directors; Commissioner Phil Mays, St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners; Troy Blevins, Director of St. Johns County Recreation and Parks; Charlene Shirk, Director of Community Relations for THE PLAYERS Championship; Corey Green, PBS&J Engineering. They are surrounded by members of the Bird Island Park Board of Directors and other supporters of the park.