Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mandarin Man 'Evens Up the Playing Field' for His Neighbors

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mandarin Man 'Evens Up the Playing Field' for His Neighbors

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN SCANLAN

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary classifies activism as a "direct vigorous action especially in support of/or opposition to one side of a controversial issue."

It is a word that could describe Jim Hill, both in his younger days in the high-pressure TV and radio world of New York City and in his later years in Mandarin as president of the Greater Hood Road Community Association and vice chairman of the city's Southeast Citizens Planning Advisory Committee.

Born in 1942 in Norfolk, Va., he graduated from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut and started classes at Brooklyn Law School before he moved to produce talk radio shows on New York City's WMCA-AM. He was a producer of NBC Radio's Monitor talk show, wrote news for NBC Radio and was associate producer for first year of ABC'sGood Morning America. He was a production manager at WCBS-TV and worked on network shows like the soap opera Another World, The David Letterman Show, Saturday Night Live, five Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parades and three Orange Bowl parades. In 1990, he shifted to writing software for investment banks and other companies, even working in World Trade Center Tower 2 after the first terrorist attack in 1993. He moved to Jacksonville in 1999, where he is now a collector for the IRS.

Hill jokes that his activism probably started when he was battling the landlord of his tiny rent-controlled Manhattan apartment. But his current activism is tied to the Hood Landing Community Association, which represents about 5,500 homeowners in 10 homeowners associations as it monitors developer's rezoning actions in an area bounded by Interstate 295, Sunbeam and Old St. Augustine roads and the railroad tracks paralleling Philips Highway.

"We alert people to what is going on, and if they don't want it, then we form a plan of action and fight it. We had a bunch of stuff on Losco Road, some easier to fight than others," Hill said. "When you cram in more homes, you can fight it to a point because Losco is an F [too much traffic] road. But it is a tough fight."

Those battles were over planned retail stores at the intersection of Losco and Hood roads. …

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