Henry L. Brown Kooker Park on the eastside of Jacksonville is set to undergo over $150,000 of renovations.

The park’s namesake spent 30 years running youth athletic programs for inner city kids at the 5-acre site just

off Martin Luther King Jr. Expressway. Brown coached thousands of young athletes at the park from

1973 until his death in 2003.

Those who coach there now say Brown would be proud of how the community is bringing it back to life.

Kooker Park declined sharply after Brown passed and the Boys & Girls Club moved its programs out.

Community leaders, including some who played there as children, began revitalizing the park about

seven years ago. Now, with leadership from LISC Jacksonville and Operation New Hope and grant

funding from ESPN and the NFL Foundation’s Grassroots Initiative, the facility is about to take a big step

forward.

The almost century-old park will receive $125,000 worth of improvements including removal of the existing irrigation, scoreboard enhancements, new sport cages, and more.

The improvements are expected to be completed by September, just in time to host the Little League

Vikings’ games this fall. The project will be a big shot in the arm to the urban renewal efforts LISC

Jacksonville has been leading on the Eastside, said Janet Owens, president of LISC Jacksonville.

“There are many working hard to make Jacksonville’s Historic Eastside a great place to live, work and

play again,” Owens said. “We are all very thankful to the Jacksonville Jaguars and ESPN for seeing the

potential role this park can play in those crucial community revitalization efforts.”