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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Aug. 18, 202011:50 AM EST

Bill withdrawn to reimburse grant money for Metropolitan Park

Finance Committee Chair Matt Carlucci says any transfer of the park must involve the public.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

City Council’s Finance Committee voted unanimously Aug. 18 to withdraw Ordinance 2020-0555.

If enacted, it would have appropriated $1.725 million to reimburse the state and federal governments for grants awarded in 1981 that were used to create Metropolitan Park.

Brian Hughes, Mayor Lenny Curry’s chief administrative officer, said the bill no longer is needed because it was introduced to start a dialog with state and federal partners.

“The dialog continues,” Hughes said.

He explained that the property along the St. Johns River near TIAA Bank Field has state and federal encumbrances that would be at issue if the park is incorporated into the proposed Shipyards development project.

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan is the master developer for the Shipyards and adjoining Lot J property.

“The (state Department of Environmental Protection) and the city continue to review potential swap values,” Hughes said.

Committee Chair Matt Carlucci said Metropolitan Park was established when the late former Mayor Jake Godbold was in office with the intention that the space would forever remain a public park.

“There was a promise it would be the people’s park in perpetuity,” Carlucci said.

Hughes said that any land swap to include the park property with the Shipyards project would be a discussion by the Downtown Investment Authority and the city.

“We can’t just split that thing up without involving the public. We’re playing with a sacred piece of property,” Carlucci said. 


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