Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Three Mayors Fell Short, It's Curry's Turn

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Three Mayors Fell Short, It's Curry's Turn

Article excerpt

Byline: Ron Littlepage

Mayor Lenny Curry has some heavy lifting ahead of him.

There's that city budget he must present to the City Council later this month, which he promises will reflect his priorities and be balanced without a tax increase, certainly not an easy task.

There's the matter of paying off the massive debt dragging down the city's public employee pensions and thus the city's general fund.

There's the challenge of hiring the right people, so that City Hall operates efficiently.

Let me add something else to the mayor's crowded agenda, one that's not as significant as those above and other issues facing Curry.

But it's one that has stumped the three previous mayors: the Palms Fish Camp.

The saga began in 2002 when John Delaney was mayor.

The Palms Fish Camp was a popular, although shabby, restaurant on Heckscher Drive at Clapboard Creek.

The cracker-style cooking was good and plentiful, and the flamboyant chef, Art Jennette, was entertaining.

Such fish camps were disappearing like a lot of old Florida, and the Delaney administration thought it would be a good idea to preserve the Palms as part of the Timucuan preserve.

So in February 2002 for $550,000, the city became the owner of the property and signed a deal with Jennette to continue operating the restaurant where you were likely to find the wealthy dining next to blue collar workers and others in between.

Over the next several years, there were disputes, to put it mildly, over such things as rent payments.

It fell to Mayor John Peyton to close the Palms in 2005, and Jennette moved on to a former barbecue restaurant on the Southside.

It also fell to Peyton to tear down the building because it was in too bad of shape to save.

But soon a sign was erected heralding the imminent return of a new Palms Fish Camp on the same site.

That gave great comfort to the community living along Heckscher Drive.

They waited. …

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