Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Mayport Cruise Terminal up for public hearing and vote

From the TU:

ISSUE: Mayport cruise ship terminal

 What it means: There will be a public hearing and vote on three separate bills that pave the way for a cruise ship terminal to be built in Mayport. The bills address the land use, zoning and Jacksonville Port Authority master plan changes.

 Bill No. 2008-892, 2008-893 and 2008-970

Let’s follow the JPA’s trail of folly to figure out how the Cruise Ship Terminal ended up being proposed for Mayport.

The problem:  the Port wanted to expanded their operations (Mitsui and Hanjin) without enough available land.  Hmmm…let’s see, they said, we can just move the Cruise Terminal and put Hanjin where the Cruise Terminal was located.  But where to put the Cruise Terminal?  Where?  Where?  They had to have a piece of land for Hanjin.

Let’s take a look at the places the POrt has considered for the Cruise Terminal.  First, they decided to put the Cruise Terminal near the Timucuan Preserve at the Joe Carlucci Boat ramp, but they neglected to tell Barbara Goodman, the federal overseer for the Preserve.  She fought it like a cat taking a bath.  The Heckscher Drive Community Club and  Save Our River Environment joined her.  My favorite quote from the battle is Neil Armingeon, the St. Johns Riverkeeper, who said at the time:  “The Port is either very ignorant or very naive.”   I would submit they are both.

Then, they decided on a piece of property owned by a Mr. Zion.  Unfortunately, they neglected to tell Mr. Zion first ,and as it turned out, he was not a willing seller.  JPA tried a quick take of Keystone Coal owned land, but the cost for the land ran into the tens of millions of dollars, and so they dropped that.  They also tried leasing land from the Navy.  You can read about that here.

Having lost those battles, the Port wandered the shores of the St. Johns River looking for a place for the Cruise Terminal that wouldn’t raise such a fuss for ships 20 stories high (with tall stacks that belch smoke and clanging bells and loudspeakers that call for passengers) along with a parking garage 5 stories high.  When along came the Mayor’s old friend, John Rood, and his company Vestcor. 

JPA  bought Vestcor’s property without so much as a blink and began their efforts in earnest to bring the Cruise Terminal to Mayport.  Unfortunately, they forgot to talk to the Mayport residents first.  Business as usual for Port officials.  And now the Mayport residents are in the fight of their life to preserve the fishing village.

City Council will take up the matter tonight.  I wonder how willing any of them would be to have the Cruise Terminal in their back yard?

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