Today in Hemming Park, Jacksonville philanthropists Steve and Anne Pajcic presented a $75,000 challenge gift meant to inspire others to support efforts to revitalize Hemming Park, to Dr. Wayne Wood, Friends of Hemming Park board president, and Vince Cavin, Friends of Hemming Park CEO.

Friends of Hemming Park has done a remarkable job in turning this park from an eyesore into an energized and attractive showplace in less than one year, said Steve Pajcic, prominent local attorney.

This park is the centerpiece of our downtown, and everyone in this city benefits from its revitalization. We strongly support the creative efforts of Friends of Hemming Park, and we challenge other donors from both the corporate and private sectors to match our gift.

The improvements in this park are wonderful, but it is very important to sustain these efforts, said Anne Pajcic, wife of Steve Pajcic. It takes money from both the City of Jacksonville and from private donors to make sure that Hemming Parks success continues long-term.

We are grateful to the Pajcics for their significant support and encouragement for our work to make Hemming Park a place we can all be proud of, Wood said. We have made great strides in turning this park around, but we still have much work ahead of us. Steve and Anne have thrown down a challenge today to encourage other donors to support our efforts and assure that this success continues.

The Pajcics unrestricted $75,000 gift will be used for operations and improvements in Hemming Park. The Pajcics were inspired to donate to Hemming Park after the City of Jacksonville withheld scheduled payments to Friends of Hemming Park due to confusion over the language in the original 2014 ordinance establishing the management contract for the park. The agreement includes a $250,000 fundraising requirement for Friends of Hemming Park. The final agreement wording was not inclusive of concessions and event revenues as part of the $250,000 fundraising goal. The issue was resolved by the Jacksonville City Council in an 18 to 1 vote August 11, restoring language for concessions and event proceeds to be included in Friends of Hemming Parks fundraising goal.

We are thrilled to receive this significant donation from Steve and Anne Pajcic, and we appreciate the validation it shows for our efforts in Hemming Park, Cavin said. It comes at a perfect time in which we are trying to demonstrate to the community that Hemming Park is leading the renaissance in downtown Jacksonville. It is a new day in the park. We are enlivening it with activities and entertainment every day and with special events every week.

To learn more about Steve’s law firm Pajcic & Pajcic, visit their website