Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Residents Sound off on City Projects; Mayor Peyton Holds Town Meeting on Northside

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Residents Sound off on City Projects; Mayor Peyton Holds Town Meeting on Northside

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland, Times-Union staff writer

Two hot-button issues -- the proposed location of a cruise ship terminal and the East-West Corridor -- dominated discussion at Mayor John Peyton's town meeting on the Northside last week.

More than 200 residents packed into Highlands Elementary School July 20 to meet with Peyton and a cadre of city officials.

Residents such as Jessie Sammons came to express their displeasure with the Jacksonville Port Authority's proposal to build a new cruise ship terminal between Heckscher Drive and the St. Johns River adjacent to the Joe Carlucci Sisters Creek Boat Ramp.

Authority officials have said they favor the site because of fears that increasingly larger cruise ships would be too tall to pass under the Dames Point bridge and JEA transmission lines to reach the existing temporary terminal on August Drive.

Sammons, president of the Heckscher Drive Community Club, said she is concerned about added traffic on Heckscher, a two-lane road leading up to the site, as well as the impact on the nearby 46,000-acre Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.

"If there's a meeting [on the subject], I've attended it," Sammons said.

Peyton said it's a very delicate issue and that he's sensitive to both sides. He said a decision on the location is a long way off and won't be made until studies have been completed and more information is available.

One man expressed concern that the property would become an eyesore if the cruise industry decided to bypass Jacksonville in the future. He suggested that an advisory committee be formed.

Peyton said it was a good suggestion and that in any case, there would be "a great deal of community dialogue" on the location.

Eric Smith, a former city councilman who lives on Little Marsh Island, praised Peyton for his accessibility and for saving the view from the western side of the island from industrialization before his election, when he was vice president for Gate Petroleum. …

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