City finally funds Riverfront Park bulkhead restoration

Perhaps hearing the frustrations of many San Marco residents, the City of Jacksonville came one step closer to fixing the bulkhead in San Marco’s Riverfront Park when City Council voted unanimously May 9 to appropriate approximately $1.99 million to repair the bulkhead.

By passing Ordinance 2017-266, the Council voted to fund the replacement of the failing bulkhead at the park on River Road by amending the 2017-2021 Five Year Capital Improvement Program and decreasing funds from several accounts to move the money over to the St. Johns River – Riverfront Park Bulkhead Replacement Project.

City accounts from which the money was moved to fund the project included the St. Johns River

Bulkhead/Riverwalk Repairs Project, The St. Johns River Bulkhead, Assess/Restore Project & Countywide Bulkhead Assessment, and the Repair Replacement Projects to the St. Johns River – Riverfront Park Bulkhead Replacement Project.

According to information supplied by the City, the cost of the complete project is $2.6 million. The appropriation of $1,986,996.23 is a combination of existing proceeds and interest earnings already in city coffers. The transfer of funds was approved by the City’s Bond Counsel, and the remaining balance is expected to be raised through future appropriations from the Fiscal Year 2018 budget process.

Council President Lori Boyer said the City needed to scrounge up more funds after all the bids it received were considerably higher than what had been first set aside by the city. “We started out at $500,000, so it’s a dramatic increase in costs,” said Boyer, who represents San Marco.

It may take as long as 60 to 90 days for construction to begin on the project, Boyer said during a meeting May 22. “They are ready to keep moving forward but now the next thing that they have to do is get the permit from DEP (Department of Environmental Protection),” she said, adding that she also has called DEP in an effort to expedite matters.

“Public Works committed to call them tomorrow and try to work on them. I told them, ‘You’ve been saying next month, next month, next month for a while. Let’s get this underway,’” she said. “It took us nine months because we had a lower cost estimate, and that’s how much money we had and the bids came in at more than that estimate. Then we re-bid it to see if we could get it back down. We couldn’t. Then we had to appropriate more money, so that’s the saga,” she explained.

A sheet-pile bulkhead with concrete cap will be installed, and the park will remain fenced off until construction is complete, according the Public Works Engineering and Construction Management Division.

Many San Marco residents are frustrated that the City appears to be dragging its feet in focusing on the project. “I’m frustrated that Riverfront Park hasn’t been addressed sooner, particularly since the city seems to have funds to do projects in other parks,” said Anita Morrill, who lives on the river adjacent to the park. “I realize there is permitting and budgeting, but this should be a huge priority because the park has been closed since October, and it is a community park. The crumbling bulkhead needs to be fixed because it affects properties on each side of the park and ultimately the road (River Road),” she said.

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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