Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jacksonville Seeking Money for McCoys Creek

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jacksonville Seeking Money for McCoys Creek

Article excerpt

Byline: Steve Patterson

The budget Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry proposed this week includes money to remake a flood-prone creek that attracts tires and trash as a core-city greenway for biking and kayaking.

The spending plan schedules $4.75 million by 2021 to upgrade McCoys Creek, a flood-prone waterway that brushes past old industrial buildings and jungle-like thickets to reach the St. Johns River downtown.

Creek supporters have been cheering the project's inclusion in the budget.

"Having this step from the city is a really good sign, and it's going to be really helpful," said Shannon Blankinship, who has led monthly cleanups at the creek since 2013 for the St. Johns Riverkeeper organization.

In that time, Blankinship told a city panel on waterways early this year, volunteers recovered close to 250 tires and filled more than 1,500 trash bags with debris that accumulated in the 2.5-mile-long creek that ends in downtown's Brooklyn area.

The creek still floods a lot, especially in summer, but it's better since crews started clearing storm drains and removing debris, said Randall Riley, who remembers rising water forcing rats and snakes to higher land around his home by Hollybrook Park.

Blankinship said the projects Curry proposed are an important commitment by the city.

"What we've been lacking is some sort of acknowledgement from the city that work needs to be done that volunteers can't do," she said.

The budget calls for $1.35 million to be spent in the new budget year, which starts Oct. 1.

Most would go for a $750,000 project to remove abandoned pipes and other obstructions that block kayakers inclined to paddle an inner-city stream.

The remaining $600,000 would cover design costs for the 12-foot wide biking and pedestrian trail. Another $2. …

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