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Jax Daily Record Monday, Feb. 8, 201612:00 PM EST

50 years ago: City seeks federal funds to clean up St. Johns River and for housing aid

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by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

City Highways and Sewers Commissioner Henry Broadstreet set in motion a proposal to provide construction plans and financing for a $24.2 million pollution control program for the St. Johns River.

The action came with City Commission approval of Broadstreet’s motion to appoint Goodbody & Co. to work out the financing and selection of Fred Wilson and Associates to design construction plans.

The Wilson engineering firm also would be responsible for the city’s application for federal matching funds for the river cleanup program.

The three-phase project was anticipated to begin in 1966 and continue through 1970.

The program would remove nearly 25 million gallons of pollution entering the river each day.

The first phase, budgeted at $1.6 million, would reduce pollution flowing into the St. Johns River from McCoy’s Creek and the Willow Branch truck sewer line. Broadstreet said funding already was appropriated.

The second phase was a $935,000 project to reduce pollution from Hogan’s Creek, Smith Branch and the Mayflower Street sewer line. That segment was scheduled for 1967-69.

The third phase, scheduled for 1968-70, was a $10 million St. Johns River trunk sewer line along the Riverside-Downtown area.

Broadstreet said application for federal funds would be made within weeks for Phase 2 and in March for Phase 3.

• Mayor Lou Ritter invited to his office representatives of the new Department of Housing and Urban Development to discuss the possibility of Jacksonville being certified for federal housing aid.

Herbert Wooten, assistant director of community programs for the HUD regional office in Atlanta, said the discussion covered an overall community improvement program.

The goals of the program were to use all means available to eliminate slums and to provide adequate housing for all families.

Programs available included urban renewal, public housing, code enforcement and Section 221 of the Federal Housing Act, which involved mortgage insurance for housing sponsored by nonprofits.

Wooten said the code enforcement provision involved two-thirds federal aid to a community to bring housing in selected areas up to minimum standards set by the city.

Ritter said federal funds could lead to Jacksonville becoming a “slum-free dream city” and he was committed to the effort even if the funds were not granted.

“If Jacksonville never gets into these federal aid programs, we still need a workable program,” he said. “A workable program merely gives a modern city the modern tools to meet the needs of the present and the future.”

Ritter said qualifying for federal aid would involve adopting municipal codes for building, plumbing, electric, fire prevention and code enforcement.

Also needed would be an ongoing comprehensive planning program and neighborhood studies.

Ritter said an agency would have to be created to administer relocation of people who were displaced by highway or slum clearance projects.

• The Jacksonville Port Authority moved into its new 60,000-square-foot warehouse.

The $201,000 structure was the last additional storage space that would be built before a comprehensive improvement program was slated to begin.

The three-section warehouse was put into immediate use to store coffee that arrived at Talleyrand Docks and Terminals.

More than 17,000 bags of coffee were moved into the warehouse.

“We had more coffee coming in than we had places to put it,” said authority Managing Director Dave Rawls.

The rebuilding program was scheduled to start in July soon after bonds, approved in a 1965 referendum, were sold for the first phase of construction.

• Nearly two years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 went into effect, racial equality remained an issue in Jacksonville.

U.S. District Judge Bryan Simpson took under advisement a petition asking acceleration of racial desegregation in Duval County public schools, for integration of school faculties and for budgeting school funds on a nonracial basis.

Final arguments on the motion comprised review of testimony given in November in federal court.

Earl Johnson, attorney representing the NAACP, said the testimony proved school boundaries had been deliberately drawn so as to separate blacks and whites and that applications by blacks for transfers to nearby white elementary schools usually were turned down by the school board.

Johnson also said there were no integrated faculties in the Duval system.

Elliott Adams, attorney for the school board, and Fred Kent, attorney retained in connection with the integration suit, said the board was doing its best to conform with a court-approved plan of integration.

Adams told Simpson while no teaching staffs had been integrated, the board had assigned advisers for a number of schools on a non-racial basis.

Kent said a system as large as Duval’s had to “operate on some orderly basis” and school attendance areas were essential.

But he admitted there might be areas reflecting some gerrymandering.

Simpson said desegregation was not proceeding as quickly as it should and perhaps desegregation should begin from the top grades down as well as from the bottom up.

Kent said he hoped if Simpson ordered the change, the school board would be given at least one year to work out a new school program based on separating the fast learners from the slow learners.

Simpson and Kent agreed during the hearing the slow learners were predominately black.

Kent said unless the program was changed, the dropout rate would “be increased tremendously.”

• A Criminal Court jury took only seven minutes to find Okey Lawrence guilty of robbery.

Lawrence was arrested shortly after midnight Dec. 11 after a woman spotted him standing under a palm tree eating fried chicken she said he had stolen from her.

The defendant had been released from state prison about 5 p.m. the previous day.

Assistant State Attorney John Helms said Lawrence followed Frances Chamberlain into the parlor of her home at 344 E. Adams St. about 11 p.m. Dec. 10 and snatched her purse and a box of chicken she was carrying.

Chamberlain later spotted him eating the chicken near the police station, Helms said.

Judge Hans Tanzler set March 7 for sentencing.

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