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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Jan. 11, 200712:00 PM EST

Infrastructure Task Force completes action plan

by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

by Max Marbut

Staff Writer

“We stand adjourned.”

With those three words, Steven Halverson, president and CEO of The Haskell Company and chairman of the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission’s Infrastructure Task Force, concluded the group’s goal to produce recommendations and action steps for Downtown development. The task force has created a 34-page document that details ways to improve parking, traffic circulation, stormwater management and transportation issues as they apply to future development projects.

The task force recommended the formation of a Downtown Transportation and Parking Committee (DTPC), which would be comprised of representatives from agencies including the JEDC, Public Works, JTA, Metropolitan Planning, Parking Facilities and Enforcement, Traffic Engineering and Downtown Vision, Inc. (DVI), to monitor future trends and implement policies to adapt to changes.

The task force believes the DTPC would coordinate efforts between the various agencies, enhancing occupancy of existing parking facilities and and improving placement and operations of future parking locations.

JEDC Executive Director Ron Barton said having the DTPC in place would help streamline future development processes.

“We haven’t used the JEDC to move policy forward as well as we could have,” said Barton. “The existing system creates an organizational disconnect. We should synchronize policies and directions among various City agencies like parking and the JTA. It would also give us more clout when we have to lobby for change.”

Other task force recommendations include, but are not limited to:

• DVI should work with a local architect/design firm to create a universal parking sign that would cost less than $5,000, be approved by the Design Review Committee and be mounted on every Downtown parking garage in the core. The sign would indicate if the garage is open or closed and whether space is available for daily, evening or event parking.

• JTA should evaluate peripheral lot pricing to get more long-term parkers to use lots outside the Downtown core. JTA should also work with the parking division to designate parking areas in the core that peripheral-lot patrons could use two to four days a month when their vehicles are needed closer to their work places.

• The JEDC and the parking division should be allowed to monitor parking demand and have the authority to adjust rates for all public parking through administrative means rather than legislative.

Bob Carle, Chief of the Parking Facilities & Enforcement Division, said the precedent was set to implement the recommendation when parking charges at the city government’s monthly garages were raised to reflect market conditions.

JEDC Downtown Committee Chairman Robert Rhodes attended the meeting and answered questions from task force members about what will happen to the group’s recommendations and how they might be implemented.

Rhodes said after all of the task forces have completed their work, his committee “will have the challenge of meshing together four sets of recommendations and present those recommendations to the mayor by this summer. It will be an advocacy document as well as a quasi-business plan.”

“The art form for the committee will be to capture the recommendations from all four task forces and make them part of a plan to manage Downtown development day-by-day,” said Barton.

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