Town gets first tangible peek at Kingsley East Roadway upgrade

Jesse Hollett
Posted 1/18/17

ORANGE PARK – Eight years of deliberation over the inevitable fate of the Kingsley East Roadway project is closer to reality.

Engineers and landscape architects tasked with designing the Town …

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Town gets first tangible peek at Kingsley East Roadway upgrade

Posted

ORANGE PARK – Eight years of deliberation over the inevitable fate of the Kingsley East Roadway project is closer to reality.

Engineers and landscape architects tasked with designing the Town of Orange Park’s most historical road – often referred to as the gateway to the St. Johns River – presented preliminary plans to the Town Council Tuesday. After briefly deliberating about minor errors and difficulties in the plans, the council allowed the plans to move forward from 60 to 90 percent completion.

Between the two intersection cross walks and midblock intersections between U.S. Highway 17 and Reed Street and Astor Street, and River Road, the architects have quite a bit planned.

The $802,000 facelift includes sidewalks on both sides of the road, angled parking along the road, new curbs and gutters, storm water improvements and the installation of a curbed median. The preliminary plans include native and adapted plant species designed to provide color, historical value and low maintenance, while bricked crosswalks and proposed pedestrian level lights will give the road a sense of “arrival.”

“When you’re driving down there right now, it’s very uninviting,” said Brett Kuzoian, landscape architect with St. Augustine-based Castle Bay Design Studio. “It doesn’t say hey, I’ve arrived I think that’s what we wanted to give the street, a sense of arrival, when you turn down Kingsley you’re in a different area it’s a different experience this is something special. We wanted to open up Kingsley and kind of bring out the full potential it has. It’s got a river view – a historic feel.”

Kuzoian hopes to remove clutter in the current Kingsley East Park. This includes roughly six arrow signs and moving the power lines underground to give a better view of the water.

“I think this will be a prescription for future projects, I think if it’s done correctly…the Kingsley Avenue roadway project could be the prescription for how streetscapes are done in the future moving forward for the Town of Orange Park,” Kuzoian said. “I think it’s kind of a landmark project.”

Designers hope to finish the preliminary designs and send the project out to bid before the end of February. Between now and then, the designers will include the design for the raised bulkhead sitting at the end of the three-block road. The bulkhead will lay level with the park, replacing the eight-foot drop, which has been notorious for catching beer bottles and trash from late night partiers.

Designers will also complete the designs for the park itself. Although there are no current plans released, Principal Architect and Project Manager Paul Ina said it could include a gazebo or even be more open than it currently is.

Regardless, Town Clerk Sarah Campbell said talks with Emily Dockery, the town’s events and recreation coordinator brought some excitement into new plans for town events.

“We discussed a number of points that would make this suitable for a number of festival type atmospheres or maybe even the farmers’ markets,” Campbell said. “[We could put] the vendors booths in the parking spaces themselves, then you create this sort of intimate shopping gallery.”

Walkers will pass by native and adapted plants such as cathedral live oak, eastern redbud and firepower nandina.”

“We wanted to give the streetscape just an overall facelift with a little bit of a historical character to the whole design without getting gaudy,” Kuzoian said. “We did some native plantings, native or adapted species of plantings for color and low maintenance while at the same time kid of incorporating the brick accents and some of the pedestrian level lighting to kind of drive home that feel.”

For Ina, however, who has worked on the project for the last eight years, he’s still in shock the project will finally move forward.

“I was telling the councilman today that I can’t believe we’re going to bid this project,” Ina said. “To be honest…we’ve been working on Kingsley for probably about eight years…It was either just put on hold or they couldn’t decide what to do.”

Ina attributes the success this time to the reversal of the town’s normal project workflow. This time, the town held two sessions for public comment before debating what they wanted among themselves. This time, the people decided, Ina said.

“There’s a lot of history in Orange Park, so I think the streetscape as it’s designed or as it’s going will kind of bring some of that back a little bit,” Kuzoian said.

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