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Jacksonville's Cancer Survivors Park
By Gary Crumley, RLA, and Catherine Lewis, Sandy Toes Society


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Staff volunteers assisted team captain and lead designer Gary Crumley, RLA, with the layout of Jacksonville's Richard Bloch Cancer Survivors Park prior to the volunteers' arrival. Florida State College at Jacksonville enlisted Warden Construction to clear the site, install large palms and lay mulch. Volunteers brought their own tools.
Photos: Sandy Toes Society


Florida State College at Jacksonville's downtown campus received a mass of volunteers to renovate the landscape at their Richard Bloch Cancer Survivors Park. Kevin White, chair of the Jacksonville chapter of ASLA, recruited volunteers to work together on solving the challenges faced by an aging urban park built in 2000.

The Bloch Gardens for Cancer Survivors group had built several of these parks around the country as a means of celebrating the survivor's journey, providing hope in the face of cancer. Funding for maintaining the park had dried up. Administrators and staff met with White and Crumley last spring to come up with a plan. Their list of maladies was extensive and challenging.

The bronze sculptures were in need of cleaning and restoration. The pumps for the water feature there had become untenable with constant maintenance and breakdowns. Vagrants used the park at all hours, even when closed. Locks and security were added but at the expense of aesthetics and accessibility. The plant material was aged and in some places non-existent. The irrigation dribbled. No one was enjoying what the park had turned into. The costs to maintain it were too high. A committee was formed to approach the plan for restoration. Dr. Marie F. Gnage, campus president, brought in her administrative staff to the meeting. Charles Stratmann, Ray McEwen, James Copeland and some volunteers from the college helped create a renovation plan from the original drawings provided by Site Options, Inc.

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The Richard Bloch Cancer Survivors Park bronze sculptures were cleaned and restored.


As an alum of the college, Crumley offered to produce the site inventory and construction plans. In the mid-1990s he had created a master plan for a botanical garden there on the campus for his bachelors of landscape architecture degree from the University of Florida.

"I dove into the project head on, enlisting the help of UF ASLA student chapter president Shelby Harden to help draw the inventory sheets," said Crumley. "Upon completing a site analysis of the park, a conceptual plan using Florida friendly materials was created."

The plan was gladly received by the campus committee and $10,000 was raised to begin phase one. Warden Construction, a long-time contractor with the Florida State College campus, helped get the site ready using a demolition plan. Some plants were preserved; some were transplanted elsewhere on campus; some were removed due to poor growth or aesthetic appearance. Gravel used in the park had to be removed as a ground cover, a painstaking effort. Vaughn Paul with Warden Construction planted large trees and palms. After three days of preparations, the irrigation system was repaired and re-established to 100 percent coverage.

Plants arrived by the truckload and were queued in place, awaiting the arrival of the volunteers. A security guard watched overnight to protect the new plants from growing legs during the night.


As seen in LASN magazine, April 2016.






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