Wayne Wood’s vision for Hemming Plaza includes more green space, more shade, less concrete and planned entertainment every day.
He will have a chance to create that vision as the city council voted Wednesday to approve $1 million in city money toward the first 18 months of a five-year management contract for Friends of Hemming Park, which Wood had a major hand in launching. The Downtown Investment Authority will provide $800,000 and the city’s parks department will chip in $200,000.
The Mayor’s Office issued a prepared release praising the legislation and calling Hemming Plaza a “precious community asset.”
“By joining together with a private partner, we will renew this iconic public space to make it safer, cleaner and more attractive as a venue for community activities,” Mayor Alvin Brown said in a news release.
The city’s parks department previously managed the plaza.
Wood, chairman of Friends of Hemming Park, said he plans on renaming the plaza to Hemming Park, providing “dusk until dawn” security and hiring a social worker to help the frequent visits by people experiencing hopelessness.
Security won’t boot the homeless out of the park, but Wood said bad behavior will not be tolerated.
He also plans to streamline the application process for special events and lower fees. He said the fees will be lower, but there will be a lot more events, which he hopes will generate revenue. In addition to the $1 million supplied by the city, the legislation requires the nonprofit to raise $250,000 for operating expenses.
Wood said he plans to raise that money with cooperate sponsorships, general donations and fees from concessions and events.
Derek Gilliam: (904) 359-4619