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NEA-Palatka Aquifer Project

Project Synopsis

The "Aquifer" concept serves as a metaphor for city planning that nourishes and sustains the vitality of this river town. Much of Florida rests on a network of underground streams from which water often surfaces in the form of springs. This metaphor is translated to the project goal of gaining a sense of visual unity within the community through the repetition of unique design elements. For example, lighting, seating, landscaping and signage created for the riverfront will also appear in pocket parks and sculpture gardens throughout the historic commercial district and the adjacent neighborhoods. Continuing with the aquifer metaphor, a road corridor study will provide a plan that entices motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists to flow into and through the central business district.


  • Initiate New Annual Event Entitled River Reflections, an Interactive Projection over Water.
    This project section involves the Florida School of the Arts (Flo Arts) Lighting Designer Robert O'Leary and his students working in conjunction with area artists and the City of Palatka. Dr. Nader Tehrani, Head of the MIT Architecture and Planning Department will visit and act as speaker, consultant and resource.
    Participants will project images on a form that will float above the St. Johns River. Two facets of river-related qualities remain paramount to the event: reflectivity and motion. Painting and technology will be fused to gain a poetic sense—with the possibility for drama and the epiphany that implies. Patterns of light and rhythms of currents are inherent river qualities. Images of river grasses, bubbles, fish and meanders as well as topography and mapping will provide inspiration. Thoughtfully chosen sound and imagery—at times meditative, at times exciting—will deepen respect for the St. Johns River. Interactive presentation features will introduce a human element. Based on early enthusiastic responses, the event may later take on "chapters" devoted to natural history, river portraits, and the City's river-related heritage.
  • Plan Waterfront Sculpture Garden and Install First Piece of Art.
    The City has had no significant sculpture since the late 1920's Doughboys and Sailor–the four St. Johns River Bridge sentries on US 17. The intent of the sculpture garden is to design an environment to encourage stimulating conversation and reverie. After presentations to the community on Art in Public Places and visits by working sculptors, and garden planning, the Arts Council will form a Selection Committee with the Palatka Main Street Director as Advisor. The Committee will solicit submissions for sculpture designs and will choose the work. Upon City Commission approval, the work will be installed with landscaping.
  • Complete Selection Waterfront Design Elements: Seating, Lighting, and Kiosks. Plan Dissemination throughout City.
    Palatka has significantly progressed in realizing community and City Commission approved downtown riverfront plans developed with Michael Redd, Urban Designer. Beside State Road 17, a major city entryway crossing the St. Johns River, plants, trees, sidewalks, and lights have been installed. Kiosks, related to historic Palatka, are currently being designed but require setting and lighting features. Seating elements, an interactive fountain, and walkways require selection and specifications. An important goal is to select design elements, which can be carried forth to other green spaces within the downtown commercial and residential areas (Reid's Gardens / North Historic District), and (The Hammock / South Historic District). Ultimately, places throughout the city will exist for family and friends to congregate, enjoy nature, and a work of art.

Source: " NEA Our Town Grant Application – Palatka Aquifer Project," Christy Sanford, Thad Crowe, Charles Rudd, Jonathan Griffith and Denise Aiken, 2012.

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  1. City of Palatka
    201 N 2nd Street
    Palatka, FL 32177
    Phone: 386-329-0100
    Fax: 386-329-0106
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