Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Cruise ship opponents challenge validity of JPA study

Buried in the Shorelines community news on jacksonville.com is this story:

MAYPORT – Opponents of a proposed cruise ship terminal not only put a hold on the plans this week with Florida Sunshine Law challenges, they’re also challenging Jacksonville Port Authority figures that say the terminal would have a positive economic impact.

“There’s been a huge economic impact since Jacksonville has owned the property along the waterfront,” said Michelle Baldwin, president of the Mayport Village Civic Association, which has sued to stop the terminal. It’s a negative impact, she said.

The JPA purchased about 8 acres on the waterfront in June. Baldwin, who represents about 70 Mayport property owners, said the negative impact since then includes moving about 20 shrimp boats from their docks, moving a net-rigging shop to Yulee and closing the Mayport Tavern.

“There’s been an impact to the morale of the village and the way we have lived life down here for approximately the past 200 years as a fishing village,” Baldwin said.

The negatives contrast a University of North Florida study paid for and released by the JPA last month that said a terminal in Mayport could have a $500-million impact on the area’s economy in the first six years of operation.

The study also concluded that a terminal at Mayport instead of its current location west of the Dames Point Bridge would have an economic impact on five Northeast Florida counties. In addition, the study says the terminal would create about 5,000 jobs on cruise ships and in service industry businesses.

But Baldwin said the study overlooks the negatives, and Warren Anderson, an attorney with the Florida Public Trust Environmental Legal Institute, which is helping represent the association, said the JPA is refusing to release details on how the UNF study was conducted.

“We’re frustrated because we haven’t had a chance to look at the report and evaluate it with their own economist,” Anderson said.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Jacksonville, Jacksonville City Council, , , , , ,

Will Cruise Ships Pollute the St. Johns?

As the Jacksonville Port Authority Board ponders whether or not to spend upwards of $50 million in an effort to lure cruise ships to Jacksonville, a video from Seattle surfaces that brings into question the potential environmental risk to the St. Johns River (and its tributaries). Seattle, homeport to scores of Alaskan-bound cruise ships, is dealing with its own weighty issues as they struggle with balancing the positive economic impact of cruise line traveler’s with the downside of environmental harm to the infamous Puget Sound. The video is somewhat lengthy, but the story is worth watching as we consider bringing cruise ships into historical Mayport.

Filed under: Jacksonville, , , , , ,

More “local companies first”

Councilman Daniel Davis’ “local companies first” preference legislation is riding a rocky road, with the Chamber of Commerce objecting to it and requesting that a task force be appointed.  Interestingly enough, Councilman Art Graham thinks it’s such a great idea that he is sponsoring a resolution to encourage Jacksonville’s independent agencies to also adopt a “local companies first” policy. Councilman Graham’s bill, 2009-39, will be introduced at City Council this Tuesday night.

Filed under: Jacksonville, Jacksonville City Council, Mayor of Jacksonville, , , , , , , , , , , ,

A great start for Jaxpolitics thanks to our readers

With 2008 on its way out, everyone is doing a story on their top stories and/or their online numbers.  So we thought we would jump in as well.

Jaxpolitics  began on November 1st, as a site to capture our observations and musings on state and local politics.  In the short time since we began, site views have increased from just over 1,000 views for the month of November to over 4,000 views so far this December (those numbers do not include views by the authors of the site).  That’s quite a feat considering we’re not linked to the Times Union, nor are we linked to Sayfie Review  (although, in all honesty, we would like to be….lol).

Definitely, the top story on Jaxpolitics since the inception of our site has been the election of Matt Shirk as Public Defender – with all of our Shirk posts added together getting nearly 900 views in the month of December alone.  Our November 27th post on considering changing Florida’s system of electing the public defender and state attorney, received over 250 views and is the most viewed post for Jaxpolitics.    Our next highest views went to our Mayport Cruise Terminal and Waste Management no bid contract posts.

On behalf of Jaxpolitics, we want to thank you for visiting our site and for providing comments and insight.  It’s been a great ride so far, and we hope it continues.  All of us here at Jaxpolitics wish you a happy and prosperous New Year.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, Jacksonville, Jacksonville City Council, Mayor of Jacksonville, , , , , , , , , , ,

Folio Weekly on Mayport

Folio Weekly has posted their editorial on JaxPort’s proposal to move the cruise terminal to Mayport.  (For what it’s worth, we wish Folio would post more of their material online—it’s much easier than trying to re-type it and properly credit it on our own.)  


We don’t often look to public relations flacks for  straight answers. But occasionally, despite their training and obligations, they let fly with a nugget of truth.

Such is the case with a December 2004 statement by then-JaxPort Authority spokesperson Robert Peek. When asked by The Florida Times-Union about the viability of a cruise ship terminal at Mayport, he responded, “Our analysis shows there is no room at Mayport.” Peek added, “We would need 40 acres of property along the river. There is not 40 acres of undeveloped land at Mayport. We would have to buy homes and businesses.” Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , , ,

Save Mayport Village teams up with Public Trust

The announcement.

the Public Trust, on behalf of the Mayport Civic Association and several Mayport residents, has entered into negotiations with Jaxport. After receiving an initial proposal from Jaxport, the Public Trust consulted with the concerned parties to draft some additional protective measures. These measures were added to the initial proposal and sent back to Jaxport through a mediator. The Public Trust is currently awaiting a reply. The Public Trust believes that the new proposal sufficiently addresses the environmental concerns presented above as well as other related concerns of the citizens of Mayport. It is therefore the hope of the Public Trust that Jaxport will agree to the proposal and thus form a working partnership, one that satisfies all parties involved and truly benefits the City of Jacksonville.

Filed under: Jacksonville, , , , ,

City finances “challenged”

Although a recent Council Auditor report reveals an $11 million dollar surplus,  the Council Auditor’s closer look at City finances reveals the surplus is because many city departments are actually losing money by $11.7 million.  Most notably, Jacksonville Municipal Stadium has been operating at a $1 million deficit; the city’s building inspection program lost about $1.3 million overall; and, the city’s IT department is losing about $6.3 million.  (Rhetorical question to Kevin Holzendorf:  How do you lose $6.3 million in the computer department?)

Peyton’s response?

The mayor’s office said it is watching closely but actually believe the city is doing well considering the economic climate.

Mayor John Petyon told Channel 4 that city leaders know rough times are ahead. He did not talk about layoff, but the possibility looms. Also, there will be scheduled increases in new fee that could help the situation.

 “I think 2009 is going to be a challenging year, economically. I am not so sure we have hit the bottom yet. Certainly businesses are challenged, families are challenged, government is challenged and this government is challenged quite frankly. All of us are going to have to make decisions on priorities,” Peyton said.

Let’s take a closer look at what was revealed in the Council Auditor’s report about the City and its independent agencies.  Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Jacksonville, Jacksonville City Council, Mayor of Jacksonville, , , , , , , , ,

Bulldozing History

SaveMayportVillage.net has provided us with a press release that sheds a historical light on what they believe will be lost if impending cruise terminal legislation is passed.

Is one of our national treasures soon to be trashed, and for no good reason? Can we stop our country’s historic Village of Mayport from being paved over?

The City Council of Jacksonville, Florida, may be about to destroy our nation’s FIRST settlement seeking religious freedom, and the site of the First Thanksgiving, between these French Huguenot settlers and the local Timucuan Indians? The Jacksonville (Florida) Port Authority wants to do exactly this in order to create a terminal for Carnival cruiseships, and Jacksonville’s City Fathers just may approve their request to alter our publicly-app roved Comprehensive Plan in order to do it. The situation looks grim for both American history and democracy.

Mayport Village, a part of Jacksonville, Florida, is the nation’s oldest settlement founded in search of religious freedom (1562) – older than St. Augustine, and half a century older than Plymouth or Jamestown. The Village is under immediate threat of being bulldozed into oblivion by Florida’s notorious growth machine. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Jacksonville, Jacksonville City Council, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cruise terminal: Look at Commodore Point

In a letter to the editor in the TU, the writer (a retired city planner) suggests a different location for the cruise terminal – Commodore Point.  The writer asks several questions and so we are posting his letter here in the hopes that Jeff Price from Jaxport will post answers that can be shared with all.

One only has to visit San Diego, Seattle or Vancouver to experience the benefits that cruise terminals can have on downtown areas.

 Cruises from those cities begin and end in the downtown areas of those cities.

 They add charm and offer new dimensions of excitement and activity, while complementing the nearby businesses.

Jacksonville may have a potential site for its cruise port that would lend many of these qualities to its downtown.

Commodore Point is a string of unrelated riverside developments, and the apparent end of the pleasant downtown riverfront. 

Just north, lies the expansive Talleyrand cargo port facility, with its 38 feet of depth at dockside.

Locating the cruise terminal in this area could fit in with the existing facilities, and complement the tourism potential of the nearby sports complex.

Its location would enhance Jacksonville’s downtown and would not likely be opposed by any of its neighbors.

As during the 2005 Super Bowl, additional cruise ships could be periodically brought in to uniquely augment downtown hotel accommodations during major events.

This location would be at the locus of several transportation corridors and is easily accessed by the public transportation that serves the sports complex.

The principal limiting factor seems to be not enough clearance beneath the Dames Point Bridge to permit access for the largest ships.

Has a study been done of suitable sites in this area and of the effect of limiting the largest ships from the site?

Has a cost/benefit study been done of the engineering feasibility of modifying or rebuilding the bridge to allow the additional clearance for the largest cruise liners?

Even with an extreme cost of rebuilding the bridge, it is possible that the advantages of the central location could prove less expensive than acquiring waterfront property in Mayport, building suitable access to it, disrupting the local community that opposes it and adding long lines of heavy automobile traffic snaking through 20 miles of residential areas.

Surely, this beautiful city deserves another look at this alternative before forging ahead with plans for a controversial Mayport terminal.

A downtown location could be a terrific asset to Jacksonville, and Mayport certainly could be better served by a more suitable village waterfront development, and/or as a quaint tourist destination, as well.


retired city planner, Orange Park

Filed under: Jacksonville, Jacksonville City Council, , , , ,

Port Ordered to Pay Attorney’s Fees

Supporters of property owner’s rights would consider this a win for property owner’s in America.  The “chilling effect” to which Mr. Ferrin refers just might be a “wake-up call” to Governments who attempt to abuse eminent domain.

A judge has ordered the Jacksonville Port Authority to pay $10.5 million to lawyers who defended Keystone Coal Co. during the port’s unsuccessful effort to acquire property in a condemnation lawsuit.

Port Authority Executive Director Rick Ferrin said today in a statement the port will appeal the decision. He said the amount is excessive and will have a “chilling effect” on government entities using condemnation.

Filed under: Jacksonville, , , , ,

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