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Jax Daily Record Friday, Jan. 27, 201712:00 PM EST

Boyer working on plan to ensure waterways interests working together

by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

With miles of oceanfront coastline and the St. Johns River running through Duval County, Jacksonville has more waterfront than most communities.

And it has the water-related government agencies, private organizations and grassroots advocacy groups to prove it.

Representatives from those interests packed the Lynwood Roberts Room at City Hall on Thursday for updates on projects and a preview of what’s in store this year for the city’s predominant commerce and recreation resource.

“Water born – water driven” is the working name for City Council President Lori Boyer’s initiative to make sure all parties with a stake in waterfront opportunities are working together to achieve the greatest results.

“Jacksonville is shaped by the water around us,” she said. “My goal is to make sure we’re all talking to one another and putting the pieces together.”

The results of a survey of more than 750 residents were outlined by Margo Moehring, executive director of the North Florida Regional Planning Council.

The results will be used to update the Duval County Maritime Management Plan.

Moehring said 89 percent of respondents said they had used a water access facility — boat ramp, park, fishing pier, etc. — at least once and 65 percent had done so within 30 days of the survey.

Public boat ramps are the amenity most often used, with 62 percent indicating they launched a boat in the 30 days leading up to the survey.

Waterfront parks were second at 57 percent, followed closely by riverwalks at 56 percent.

Docks were used by 46 percent of those surveyed and 24 percent used a kayak launch.

Several city projects were updated by Brian Burket, natural resource and recreation specialist with the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department.

He said the boardwalk extension along the river from Blue Cypress Park to the Arlington Lion’s Club is complete and new floating docks have been installed at Wayne B. Stevens Park in Ortega.

Motorists traveling over the Mathews Bridge will soon see construction activity under the bridge at Exchange Island, which is getting floating docks.

A trail system has been established and an Eagle Scout built picnic tables on the island, which was created decades ago from dredge spoil.

Downtown Investment Authority CEO Aundra Wallace said a consultant will soon be retained to develop riverfront design standards.

That will be very important, as the city has issued a request for proposals for the Shipyards and Metropolitan Park properties on the Northbank.

“The Downtown riverfront is critical to our image as a city,” Boyer said.

A new Downtown riverfront attraction is getting closer to reality, according to attorney Dan Bean, president of the Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association.

He said the USS Charles F. Adams will be put in dry-dock in Philadelphia on March 7, where it will be prepared to be towed to Jacksonville and moored at the Shipyards property, creating the only warship museum attraction in Florida.

Bean said the permits have been secured for the pier and the Cold War-era guided missile frigate could arrive by May.

The gazebos along the Northbank Riverwalk at Hogan and at Pearl streets near the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts will be getting some enhancements later this year.

Downtown Vision Inc. CEO Jake Gordon said the organization received a $12,500 grant from the Urban Land Institute that will be used for the project.

The project is in the early planning stages, but the concept is “to make people stay there longer,” Gordon said.

A portal for waterfront information and updates has been set up on the city’s website.

It can be found by going to, then clicking on City Council under the Government header, then clicking on Hot Topics, then Waterway/Waterfront Activation.

Boyer said the portal is available for groups or anyone interested in promoting waterways and activities to share information and learn the status of projects and meeting schedules.

“We want to provide a one-stop shop,” she said.

[email protected]

(904) 356-2466

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