New law spells out maintenance duties in San Marco Square and public right-of-ways

New law spells out maintenance duties in San Marco Square and public right-of-ways
District 5 Councilwoman LeAnna Cumber with San Marco Merchants Association President Joe Carlucci and San Marco Preservation Society President Linzee Ott

For more than a decade, there has been a sort of informal “gentleman’s agreement” between  the San Marco Preservation Society (SMPS), the San Marco Merchants Association (SMMA) and the City of Jacksonville’s Parks and Recreation Department when it came to shared responsibilities concerning the maintenance of Balis Park and the city right of ways surrounding San Marco Square. Now, thanks to a Community Association Right-of-Way Maintenance Agreement – Ordinance 2020-0066 – all guesswork has been taken out of where each organization’s responsibilities lie.

Approved unanimously by the City Council on Feb. 25, the ordinance was introduced by District 5 Councilwoman LeAnna Cumber and amended by the Neighborhoods, Community Services, Public Health and Safety Committee.

“The agreement formalizes the systems of maintenance and improvement that all three entities have been collaboratively operating under for, gosh, probably over a decade,” said SMPS President Linzee Ott. “As you know, SMPS and SMMA enjoy a cooperative and healthy working relationship with the city. Over time, there were things either the merchants or we wanted to accomplish in the Square and the City simply couldn’t afford or didn’t think were appropriate for them to be responsible for, especially if all the neighborhoods around Jax were to begin wanting similar items,” she said, referring to enhanced plant material, lighting, sound systems, etc. 

“SMPS and SMMA began donating in-kind services to the Square because we felt it was our responsibility to make San Marco an exceptionally great and attractive place to shop, dine and live. SMMA and SMPS have been donating these services for many years, but we, including the City, realized it was getting difficult to keep track of who was covering what,” she continued. “(Former District 5 Councilwoman) Lori Boyer started the conversation about drawing up some sort of document to delineate the responsibilities. Credit is also due to (former SMPS President) Bryan Mickler, SMMA President Joe Carlucci and District 5 Councilwoman Cumber,” she said.

“Bryan Mickler and Lori Boyer played a really big role,” confirmed Carlucci. “They were the ones that got this thing off the ground and deserve much due credit as well.”

Specifically, SMMA and the city divide most of the duties in Balis Park. The merchants pay for the weekly mowing, and edging of the turf, plant and shrub trimming, weeding, weekly leaf blowing, weekly skimming the leaves from the fountains and litter control. In contrast, the City Parks Department takes care of tree maintenance, fertilization, weed and pest spraying, irrigation maintenance and replacement, hardscape and furniture other than engraved pavers, pressure washing as needed of the pavers and the gazebo, fountain maintenance for both the Lions Fountain and the Gazebo Fountain, the installation and replacement of lighting in the trees and trash collection in the park and replacement of liners. Meanwhile, the Preservation Society’s only duty is to take care of the engraved pavers.

In the San Marco Square right-of-way and medians that extend down San Marco Boulevard from Naldo Avenue to Sorrento Road and along Atlantic Boulevard from Naldo Avenue to San Marco Place, the merchants are responsible for mowing and weed-eating, plant and shrub trimming and weeding, maintenance of the crepe myrtle trees, trimming and weeding of palm trees that are lower than 15 feet, and fertilization. The City is responsible for trimming palm trees taller than 15 feet, and irrigation maintenance and replacement. SMPS is to take care of paver maintenance, making sure they are level and replacing them if necessary. Preservation also takes care of plant, shrub, and tree replacement and installation. SMMA and SMPS split the cost of mulch and cleaning the pavers. 

The City has the sole responsibility of caring for the right-of-way extending down San Marco Boulevard to Gary Street. 

Caring for the Naldo and Landon Roundabouts is the shared responsibility of all three organizations with the merchants taking care of plant and shrub trimming and weeding in the Naldo roundabout while the Preservation Society pays for plant, shrub and tree replacement and installation and mulch in both. The City pays for plant and shrub trimming and weeding in the Landon roundabout as well as tree and palm maintenance and irrigation maintenance and replacement. 

Along Atlantic Boulevard from San Marco Place to the railroad tracks, the City is responsible for all maintenance.

“Just last year, SMPS added $35,000 worth of new plant material in Balis Park, the two roundabouts, and a few other patches around the Square,” said Ott. “We were happy to do it, and I think the results look marvelous – especially with the excellent upkeep from SMMA and our landscaping company, Costa Verde. And, as an aside, this is a perfect example of why membership with SMPS is so important, because without membership dues and private donations, we wouldn’t be able to keep the Square and other areas of San Marco looking as beautiful as they do.”

“I think this is great for all parties because it really lays out exactly who is responsible for what and is not dependent on someone kind of remembering whether it is the responsibility of the City or the other organizations,” said Cumber. “Now it is actually written down. This makes it official.”

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)