Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Meet the Mayor: Jacksonville, Florida's Alvin Brown

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Meet the Mayor: Jacksonville, Florida's Alvin Brown

Article excerpt

When Alvin Brown took office as mayor of Jacksonville, Florida, in July 2011, he represented a new era of leadership for the River City. As the first African American voted into this office and the first Democrat elected to lead the city in 20 years, Mayor Brown ran on the vision of "taking Jacksonville to the next level," and as an outdoor recreation enthusiast, parks and recreation was a major component of his plan. Jacksonville boasts the largest urban park system in the United States, providing facilities and services at more than 337 locations on more than 80,000 acres located throughout the city.

Prior to his mayoral term, Mayor Brown's career spanned the public, private and nonprofit sectors. During the Clinton administration, he served as former Vice President Al Gore's senior advisor for Urban Policy, co-chair of the White House Task Force on Livable Communities and vice chair of the White House Community Empowerment Board, advising both President Clinton and Vice President Gore on a variety of issues related to community revitalization. Later, he served as executive director of the Bush/Clinton Katrina Interfaith Fund, president and CEO of the Willie Gary Classic Foundation and chairman of the board of the National Black MBA Association. Most recently, he served as the executive in residence at Jacksonville University's Davis School of Business.

In June 2012, Mayor Brown announced his "People + Parks Connection" program, which was designed to get Jacksonville residents out and safely enjoying the city's new and improved parks, trails, kayak launches and swimming venues. He has since launched or led numerous events that illustrate his commitment to health and wellness as well as his belief in parks and recreation as a key contributor to the well-being of his city. Recently, he was also appointed to the National Park Service Advisory Board's Urban Advisory Committee, on which he will advise Department of the Interior leaders on ways to connect communities with opportunities in national parks.

Why do you think outdoor recreation is important to the health of both your city and its individual citizens, and what is your administration doing to promote outdoor recreation opportunities?

I am obviously someone who believes in parks and recreation--it's so important for our community. [Our large park system] offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation for our residents and visitors alike. Jacksonville is home to the St. Johns River, which is considered to be the heart of our city. My goal is to help provide more access points to the river so citizens can get out and enjoy it while boating, kayaking, canoeing, paddling, boarding--all the ways people can get out and enjoy the water and Mother Nature. During my tenure, we have designated more than 20 new kayak launch sites on the St. Johns, and we have more in the works. In addition, we recently opened an 840-acre preserve that provides hiking, biking and equestrian trails, as well as access to our waterways. …

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