Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Beaches Cities Mix Wish List; the Legislature Will Look at the Requests

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Beaches Cities Mix Wish List; the Legislature Will Look at the Requests

Article excerpt

Byline: Caren Burmeister

Beaches city managers' annual wish list to the Florida Legislature this month includes money to help build the Kings Road Bridge and tighter pollution controls for treated wastewater that's released into the St. Johns River.

Neptune Beach Mayor Dick Brown said he's realistic but hopeful the state will grant the requests because the three Beaches cities, which have similar interests and overlapping issues, have developed a single petition to the Legislature.

"You can't spend it until you see it," Brown said.

In addition, Beaches city managers are working with the Duval County Legislative Delegation to usher through the requests. The delegation consists of eight House representatives and three senators, including Rep. Don Davis, R-Jacksonville, and Sen. Jim King, R-Jacksonville, whose districts include the Beaches.

One of the priorities involves a plan to control pollution released into the St. Johns River. A lot of the pollution comes from excessive nitrogen levels that cause algae blooms, like the massive green algae bloom that turned the river green last summer.

To reduce pollution, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is expected to establish specific levels of nitrogen and other pollutants the river can absorb while still meeting water quality standards.

The three Beaches cities share an outfall pipe in Mayport, near the U.S. Coast Guard station, where treated wastewater is released into the river. Like other Northeast Florida cities and plant operators, the Beaches cities face thousands of dollars, perhaps even millions, in facility conversions to meet the stricter pollution rules.

Beaches city managers, in cooperation with other Northeast Florida officials, will ask the Legislature for $15 million to $20 million to offset the future costs, said Jacksonville Beach City Manager George Forbes.

"The problem is going to cost a fortune," Forbes said.

Forbes recently met with King and Davis in Tallahassee and plans to see them again today during Jacksonville Day in the Legislature.

Here are some of the other requests Beaches officials are making to the Legislature:

Jacksonville Beach and Neptune Beach have asked the state to pay half the cost to build a new Kings Road Bridge to replace a wooden, one-lane span that crosses Hopkins Creek, leading to the Seagate Forest neighborhood, which straddles the two cities. …

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