Southside Estates

Civic Association

Jacksonville, Florida







Topics for the Next Meeting



7pm, on the first Monday of every month.  However, sometimes there are changes.  So, be sure to check with Secretary Betty Wells at .



Bring Friends

   Two Speakers:

  Home Security Options, detailed by District Force Security Group.

  Vote on SECA’s 2019 projects.

    Committee reports: (1) Wawa’s $20k “park” donation, (2) Patton Rd Landscape Buffer, (3) Peach Dr apartments, (4) Benolken Parkway and (5) “Little Southside” traffic.

Mon, Oct 01, 2018


The Annex of Restoration Church (Regency Church) on Arnold Road, near the southeast intersection of Atlantic Blvd and Southside Blvd.  A map is below.



You don’t have to be a member to attend.  But, if you join in December, your membership lasts through the next year.



Questions?  Email to





Code & Zoning Violations


Your Vigilance Matters.  If you see a Zoning or Code violation, take personal action.  Such personal responsibility will protect our property values and the quality of life in Southside Estates.

To learn about Jacksonville Zoning please review this website.  And, to discover what the City will enforce, please visit this website.

Most important: To file a complaint begin the process at this website.




Protect Against ID Theft

The best way to achieve ID protection is to freeze your credit, because the thief’s most profitable scam is to open accounts and loans in the victim’s name.

In mid-2018 the freeze process became free at all three credit agencies.

Online it takes about 10 minutes at each agency.  Here is how to do it:

1.   Go to Equifax (800.685.1111); Experian (888.397.3742); TransUnion (888.909.8872), and follow the instructions.

2.   Be prepared to answer certain questions, like the last 4 digits of your main bank account, previous home addresses and model years of past-owned vehicles.

3.   Be prepared to create a 6-digit PIN.  For a mobile phone number you can use your landline if you wish.

4.   Save all the User Names and Passwords that you create, and save them in a safe place forever – you will need them to unfreeze your credit.

5.   Do all of this a private network, not a public computer.



Past Projects


The Flowering Trees of Southside

The following letter, published June 27, 2017 by the Florida Times-Union, tells the history of the Boulevard trees:

Travelers on north Southside Boulevard are now cheered by the beauty of crape myrtles which line the avenue for two miles – the flowering trees have finally reached their magnificent maturity – many towering at 20 feet and all dazzling with color.

This breathtaking City gateway, vital to a resurgent Regency Square, wasn’t always like this.  For a generation this state road remained barren and bleak – FDOT had a responsibility to landscape this state property, to lessen its impact on nearby homes, but wouldn’t do it.

The breakthrough came in 2003, when FDOT assented to a landscape installation negotiated for years by adjoining Southside Estates Civic Association and then-councilman Lynette Self.

Local council district discretionary funds, not FDOT, would finance the planting of over a thousand trees.  The community could have chosen another park, or expanded a community center, but it wanted these boulevard trees to protect adjacent property values and life quality – and to help revive a declining Regency Square area.

Another boost came this spring when our heroes, the City’s Mowing and Landscape Maintenance Division, replaced numerous dead trees to create a spectacular, uninterrupted landscape vista.

The control of blight is a recent civic priority, but blight has always plagued the City.  Some cures take many years.  If it were not for the perseverance of a homeowners group and a city councilman, begun 20 years ago, we would not have the blight-killing roadway trees that have reached their stunning prime this year.  By all means, see this sensational community treasure.

Philip Wemhoff





Skip (left) & children he enlisted to create a butterfly garden.


A Tribute to Skip Benolken

Virtually alone, former SECA president Skip Benolken created Overpass Park at Ivey Road.

Without his extraordinary efforts the park today would be a weed-covered wasteland.  Mr Benolken personally acquired all of the donations, grants and volunteers needed to create the park – and he did the lion’s share of the labor.

We hope to begin an effort to have the park named after Mr Benolken, who was a great benefactor to our Community, a model for all citizens.  Colin Ross “Skip” Benolken, 1935-2015.

'Overpass Park' brightens community

By Sandy Strickland, Florida Times-Union | Wednesday, March 10, 2004.  More press coverage here and here.

Just call him a walking billboard.

Most days, Skip Benolken dons an eye-catching orange shirt that proclaims in bold black letters that "Nice people don't litter."

He heads to Southside Boulevard, where he picks up trash in a small pocket oasis dubbed Overpass Park. It sits in the shadow of the pedestrian overpass at 2505 Southside Blvd. at Ivey Road.

Yellow pansies help the beautification efforts at the park.  But Benolken and members of the Southside Estates Civic Association do far more than clean up debris. They mow, trim and weed their adopted park. They plant shrubbery. And they plan to involve students from nearby Southside Estates Elementary School in the planting of a 2,500-square-foot butterfly garden.

The project goes back to 2002 when the Florida Department of Transportation built an overpass so some of Southside Estates' students and people who use an adjacent school park wouldn't have to cross the heavily traveled boulevard. As part of the agreement, the DOT landscaped the site where a house was razed to make way for the ramp.

Skip Benolken has collected 60 bags of leaves that he will spread on shrubbery beds at Overpass Park. The leaves help keep weeds out and moisture in.

But some of the plants got scraggly looking because there was no way to water them, said Benolken, who decided it would be an ideal project for the civic association. To accomplish its goals, the association was awarded $3,500 from the Mayor's Neighborhood Matching Grant Program. Residents and businesses chipped in $3,500, with another $3,800 coming from the tree mitigation fund.

In November, an underground irrigation system was installed. With money left over, ligustrum, beauty berry, viburnum, chicksaw plum trees, cassia, coontie palms and a flowering shrub known as abelia were planted along the south fence line.

Skinner Nursery donated half of the plants, said Benolken, who took over as association president from longtime activist Chris Gilmore. Benolken has been collecting bags of leaves to help keep weeds down and the moisture intact. The association hopes to add park benches, special lighting, a walkway and a sign.

[Read the remainder of the story here.]







JSO Community Walk.  JSO’s Community Walk on September 26, 2017 was a complete success.  A week earlier JSO officers distributed this handout to residents.

Shown above are the officers and residents who participated.  Philip Wemhoff took the photo.

As we walked through the Patton and Orr neighborhoods, JSO officers knocked on doors, to ask residents about their crime concerns.  And, Association members offered help, and encouraged membership.

Some current Code violations are listed here, although JSO cannot address most Code infractions.







Boulevard Plan.  Eventually, Southside Boulevard (SR115) will become 6 lanes.  Above, a 40 foot center median creates a true boulevard look.  Also, there are high side berms to shield the neighborhoods from noise and view.  This Community-designed plan, published by JTA (available here), mitigates the 6-lane impact.  Please take notice of:

  The Community’s preferred plan, named “O1n”, which is shown on pages 58, 64 and 99.

  Note the Traffic Calming plan for “Little Southside Boulevard, page 69, which might use the calming Mini-Circles and Speed-Tables shown on page 83.

  Very important and informative are commentaries authored by the Community on pages 83, 95 and 108.







Tree Service Company.  Some of us have had good experiences with the following tree services:

      Budget Tree Service at 904.278.4917, who does not haul away debris, but will place it at the curb.  Budget’s insurance certificate is available here.

      Avoid Integrity Tree Surgeons, 904.487.0197,, which did not finish a job.

Caution.  With ALL tree companies, agree on a price in advance, and make it clear from the start that there will be no payment until the job is done COMPLETELY.













Recent Projects





December 4, 2017: Holiday Dinner Meeting.  The spaghetti-plus dinner, prepared by Sandra Stokes and Betty Wells, was very well received.

Councilman Scott Wilson attended the meeting, and pledged his commitment to the landscape project near Patton Road, saying “I’m all in.”

He said that, if the City administration couldn’t install the (approximately) 13 large magnolias, he would file legislation to accept a Wawa donation or to tap the Tree Mitigation Fund.  The landscape plan can be found here.







Plaque for Overpass Park.  Using a City grant, SECA plans a plaque to honor the extraordinary work of two past presidents.  The final artwork can be found here.

Some of Mr Benolken’s history is described on this page.  Information about Ms Gilmore can be found here.






Peach Drive Apartments (Proposed).  An apartment complex of about 155 units is proposed for a 14.5 acre site east of Peach Drive.

An entrance would be created at 3154 Peach Drive, shown as the protrusion in the aerial photo above.  So, all vehicles would access the site via Peach Drive.

Residents would be affected on Peach, Kline, Leahy, Forest and Live Oak.  SECA hopes to conduct a survey of property owners on those streets.



Storm Debris Update.  As you may know, there have been THREE major debris pickups in the SECA neighborhoods.  An earlier Florida Times-Union story on the pickup is here.



Wawa at Shopping Center Site.  A gas station convenience store is planned for the Southside Estates Shopping Center.  The only current building to remain is the entertainment lounge on the north.  For more details download the images here.

Beginning in August 2017 SECA requested of Wawa a treed buffer between Patton Road and the Wawa site.  Here are the communications, and here is the 5-page report which argues for the buffer.  Controlled lighting was also sought, as explained in the referenced documents.

Wawa board chairman Richard D Wood, Jr will visit the site in September 2017 to evaluate our request.



Mailboxes.  The Association formally opposes curbside mailboxes, which foster identity theft, collisions with vehicles and unsightly neighborhoods.  Learn about your rights here, from the 2016 USPS Postal Operations Manual, Section 631.6, page 326.





The Boulevard Crape Myrtles.  Over-pruning by FDOT contractors damaged boulevard trees in 2010, 2013 and 2014.  This led to an Association demand for improved FDOT pruning standards.  Download the new FDOT standards here.



Control Illegal Signs.  Please help remove this deliberate form of litter, which decreases our property values.  Public roadways belong to all citizens and may not be used for these “illegal billboards.”  And, there is no need for unlawful signs in the age of Craig’s List.



AC & Heating Savings.  At the 08Jan2018 meeting, physicist Philip Wemhoff described ways to lower energy bills at little or no cost.

To learn more about the topic, read the reports here and here.  To learn about Mr Wemhoff’s work, see the reports here and here.

Also, determine whether your AC works OK by following these simple instructions.