Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Budget Cuts Worrisome in Mayport; the Waterfront Panel Could Find Itself on the Cutting Block, Its Chairman Worries

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Budget Cuts Worrisome in Mayport; the Waterfront Panel Could Find Itself on the Cutting Block, Its Chairman Worries

Article excerpt

Byline: DREW DIXON

MAYPORT - The chairman of the Mayport Waterfront Partnership is concerned the advisory panel could lose resources and possibly be disbanded in the face of Jacksonville's increased budget demands.

At December's Waterfront Partnership meeting, Chairman Paul Parsons said he's worried 2008 could bring a radical decrease in service and support for the panel, which serves as an advisory board to Jacksonville's City Hall on issues facing the historic fishing village area.

"This is a huge issue for us. They're going to do something to us if we don't do something," Parsons said. "We've done a great deal here."

Parsons also said Jacksonville could remove its assigned Mayport project manager, Ed Lukacovic, due to the budget concerns.

Lukacovic, a city employee, advises the board and oversees implementations of many city programs and projects in the Mayport area.

The Waterfront Partnership was formed in 1997 under a state program, Waterfronts Florida Partnership, designed to protect and revitalize Florida's waterfront towns. Mayport was one of the first communities designated under the program.

Lukacovic said the partnership was enacted after a joint resolution passed by the Jacksonville City Council and Atlantic Beach City Commission, both of which have economic and cultural interests in the waterfront area of Mayport, one of the nation's oldest historic fishing villages. Mayport was founded in 1563 by French colonists and some of their descendants remain in the village today.

Lukacovic said he has not received any immediate indications that the Waterfront Partnership would be disbanded or services reduced. But he said that's always a possibility, which doesn't necessarily mean the end of the panel.

"You folks are a nonprofit organization," Lukacovic told the partnership board members in December. "You could act independently from cities' government and still meet as a nonprofit organization."

Board member Gary Crumley wondered if the panel would still be able to maintain its same group name if they were to separate from government oversight. …

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