A mess from our dear friend and president...
Date: Wed, 15 Oct 2008 19:29:24 +0000
October 14, 2008
have heard a very impressive presentation from the Jacksonville Port Authority.
This presentation, although only about 30 minutes long, will impact what is left of almost 500 years of tradition. Generations,
a way of living, and a way of life for about 300 residents, will forever change.
to what is said, and what is not. As you do ask yourselves; what is the cost of progress? What are we willing to sacrifice?
What is the ultimate cost, and what do we have to gain?
as a nation, in these times of elections, are rejoicing in lower fuel prices like we haven’t been able to in many months.
Some of us are rejoicing in the hope of change-no matter who our elected candidate may be. Sometimes change is a very good
thing, sometimes not.
am not only a resident and business owner from Mayport Village, but their elected representative
as well. What I am not, to my misfortune, is one of the multitudes of generations here that have raised their families and
made their living in this small place; because only they can really appreciate the history of this remarkable village.
publications by the many former governments have all described Jacksonville as having begun in Mayport, and indeed it has.
The federal government has printed three different stamps commemorating Mayport, a silver half dollar has been struck honoring
the founding of Mayport; and Charlie Bennett created the Timucuan Preserve
in honor of the Indian tribe that greeted our ancestors two years before St Augustine became a city. Yet in Mayport, with
the same history of which St Augustine is so proud, we are now faced with the possibility of becoming a 1400 foot concrete
slab to house three different foreign flagged ships for an estimated 156 days a year from predawn to late in the day. <
the past decade the City Council approved and spent $9,700,000.00 to revitalize Mayport in a fashion that would preserve and
protect its uniqueness and rich history while insuring the coexistence of the fishing industry. As recently as 2006 the city
passed an ordinance stating that Mayport is a fishing village and anyone moving here will sign a document acknowledging that
way of life. Elaborate plans were drawn to build Condominiums keeping the ground floor for shops only, and five new homes
have been built in price ranges up to $750,000, all in reliance of that building code. Despite a large opposition, local residents
compromised by raising the height limit to 50 feet and things were coming back with a hope of a brand new future that also
preserved the past. Now all of that is subject to being scrapped for the sole reason that the Jacksonville Port Authority
purchased land they shouldn’t have because it doesn’t fit within the confines of the comp plan, their own mission
statement or the purpose of the revitalization steps that City Council has already taken. That was then and this is now. Because
of the complications created by executing this purchase prior to the aforementioned issues, the entire project is misleading
at best. You are viewing a small scale development that is anything but. The 7.04 acres reflected only covers purchased land
on which the development will happen; not the fill, dredging, submerged lands, extra lane improvements on Ocean Street, required
bike pathway on same, storm water management ect. All these things combined with the 7.04 acres places this grossly over the
10 acres which demands a large scale development. In a development of this size, ma gnitude, and impact you just can’t
make it up as you go along. The City Council was misled once before as to the Port Authority’s true intentions when
they took over the ferry operations in an emergency session. This cannot happen again.
is the purpose of hundreds of pages of comprehensive planning if it can
just be changed at will to serve a choice few that have the power, resources and desire to subvert the processes? To date
there have been well over 2000 changes to the 2010 plan and our city is in the process of devoting thousands of dollars and
man hours (hugely volunteer man hours) on a 2030 comprehensive plan. This cruise terminal that is being proposed in Mayport
will require Land Use Amendments, Text Amendments, Zoning Variances, Army Corp Exceptions, Deviations of DCA intentions and
more that completely circumvents what has been done and recorded to protect the citizens of this community.
Port Authority’s proposal will improperly place a beautiful but unregulated foreign flag vessel that spews 33,000 parts
per million sulfur and nitrogen emissions so dangerous to health that Californian legislators, as late as July 2008, banned
that type of fuel from being used within 24 miles of the California coast.
A few of the things we need to be asking are what effects are these changes going to have on this community as a whole
in the long run? What will this massive fill and dredging operation do to our aquatic ecosystem, what effect will the added
Nitrogen emission have on our river? Because as we all know, what goes up must come down. Why does the Jacksonville Port Authority
refuse to install Shore Power when Carnival Cruise Lines has said that they
would use it if offered, just as they do in Seattle and Juno Alaska? When they compare the emissions to being no worse than
that of JEA (w hich doesn’t blow directly over a residential neighborhood) why doesn’t someone let them know that
might not be something they should WANT to compare themselves to?
What about traffic congestion? Cruise ships arrive at 7:00 am but they don’t tell you that they rarely start
to clear customs until about 9:30 am. The third lane for the short distance on Ocean Street in Mayport may help congestion
in the village itself but they are silent on the 3.2 mile approach on A1A into Mayport Village that is the main access for
the proposed terminal, a major access to the Naval station, the most frequented public boat ramp in Jacksonville, the only option for Ferry riders AND IS ONLY 2 LANES without even a bicycle pathway,
through our sensitive wetlands. Ne ver mind 300 residents plus the people employed in the fishing industry, trucks that transfer
its product and the multitude of local buyers.
it’s being said there is no other option for the Cruise industry in Jacksonville, but there is. The Jacksonville Port
Authority won a lawsuit in 2004 to put their permanent terminal at Pine Island. Coincidentally, right now there is a request
by a land owner to change 104 acres of that same property to WD/WR, and WITHOUT OPPOSITION when it was presented to the Waterways
Commission last week. The proposed land use change of WD/WR isn’t even a necessity under the current zoning in Mayport
because it is already zoned for the loading and unloading of boat passengers (even though the intention of that zoning had
nothing to do with the scale of a cruise terminal), but just a desire of the Port to avoid pot ential future issues in the
comp plan. Or is it?
say they are working with fishermen to coexist with them but only a quarter of the vessels are left of the ones that were
here when the port purchased the property, and subsequently the dockage, and they have gone because the Port Authority has
driven them away. They are the first to admit that they are not in the fishing industry and don’t want to be, however
they feel that they have the authority to deem who is worthy of staying and who must leave. I wonder from whom they obtained
this ultimate knowledge. They didn’t ask me. They didn’t come to a civic association meeting and ask them. They
didn’t walk up and down the docks or streets and ask the fishermen or their families. The Port Authority is quick to
imply they are working with locals residents and businesses when in reality it is court ordered mediation to which they are
referring, not a willingness on our part to invite them into our neighborhood, or willingness on theirs to compromise key
do they feel the need move the two 108 year old buildings that are still in operation today at 4610 Ocean Street off of the
The necessary river
security system that will require all vessel to operate no faster than minimum speed 1500 feet from a moored cruise ship (156
days) will greatly curtail the offshore fishing from the Mayport boat ramps since the nose of the proposed 953 foot ship is
about at the boundary of Singlton’s restaurant and 1500 feet would extend well past the entire boat ramps. Coast Guard
and Homeland Security regulations require a 100 yard distance from cruise ships. The proposed fill area of the terminal coupled
with the breadth of the ship itself will put the ship very nearly on the edge of the actual channel. How is that going to
work, especially if you consider the increased cargo traffic? < /FONT>
With the distinct probability
of a nuclear fleet coming to Mayport wouldn’t Jacksonville be better served economically to stay the course with the
revitalization plans currently in place?
I have been here for about
13 lucky years.
In those 13 years I
have learned more than I ever dreamed to, even if I had been afforded the best education, which I was not. I am writing this
because all of that is nothing compared to what I have learned since last September, 2007. There are two ways to describe
and approach what I have learned. In one hand, I have established, worked, and sustained a small business that has supported
4 children and me in a way that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to do with my formal education or in an employed
position within someone else’s company. In the other hand I have had a crash course in Land use, Comprehensive plans,
text amendments, city and state regulations, EIS, DRI, DCA, EPA, ACE, CPAC and countless other abbreviations, press releases
and last but not least politics. I never thought the first would lead me to the last, and frankly I wish it didn’t but
I am very grateful. I am grateful to live in a country where I can do both, and in a country where I can still believe the
only way for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing.
With sincere hope for
President, Mayport Village