Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cecil Field Proposal Full of Massive Hidden Costs

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cecil Field Proposal Full of Massive Hidden Costs

Article excerpt

Byline: Ronald L. Littlepage

A lawsuit filed last week by the city carefully explains why the Cecil Field charter amendment proposed for the November ballot is a sham.

It's a sham, in part, because of what it doesn't tell the potential voters.

For instance, the complaint filed by the General Counsel's Office points out that the city can't simply give the 17,225 acres that used to comprise Cecil Field to the Navy as supporters of the amendment propose.

Why?

Because the city doesn't own all of the property. There are seven different owners and soon to be an eighth.

About 642 acres are owned by Clay County and are set aside for recreational use.

The state Department of Transportation owns another 276 acres, property that will be used for the Brannan Field/Chaffee Expressway that will connect to Interstate 10.

Florida Community College at Jacksonville owns 130 acres set aside for a campus.

Other major owners of what now is Cecil Commerce Center include the Jacksonville Aviation Authority (6,081 acres) and JEA (325 acres).

And the City Council recently approved selling 63.3 acres to Bridgestone Firestone, which plans to build a regional distribution center there.

The city can't give away what others own.

The proposed charter amendment also doesn't tell potential voters what taxpayers would be giving up if the Navy returned to Cecil Field.

The lawsuit says about $209 million has been spent on infrastructure improvements at the commerce center since the Navy left, including $52 million for a JEA wastewater treatment facility and $34 million for an equestrian center and recreational complex.

The Navy, which left Jacksonville, not the other way around, would get all of that for free.

The proposed charter amendment also doesn't explain what it would cost taxpayers for the Navy to return. …

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