Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'NO TASK TOO TALL' Latham's Love, Laugh His Legacy

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'NO TASK TOO TALL' Latham's Love, Laugh His Legacy

Article excerpt

Bill Latham wasted little time making his mark on Jacksonville


Just minutes after he was sworn in as a city councilman in

November 1991, Latham picked apart the city's proposal for

redeveloping downtown with a $109 million SeaWalk project. His

questions led to his own version of redevelopment, which many

now consider successful beyond their hopes.

"Bill will always be known for redevelopment," City Manager

George Forbes said during Latham's memorial service Saturday.

"He thought he could succeed where all others had failed."

Latham, who died last week three days after a heart attack,

brought his own ideas to the table and included financing


With that proposal in pocket, he again showed he didn't want to

waste time. After serving just two years of his first four-year

term, Latham quit and ran for mayor. He won and served until his

death last week. He was 73.

Today, Jacksonville Beach has a new City Hall, several new

restaurants within walking distance of City Hall and a renovated

American Red Cross Life Saving Corps building, among others.

There also are proposals for a new community center, an outdoor

amphitheater, a 13,900-squarefoot building for retail shops, two

more restaurants and a Hilton Garden Inn hotel near the SeaWalk


But those are just part of Latham's legacy. To many who

knew him, it is not the buildings, but the man himself they

always will remember.

"The real achievement is the love in our hearts that he left

us," Forbes said. "His laughter I will always remember. He could

laugh at himself."

Latham, while a stickler for the rules, also had enough of an

open mind to be able to change it.

For instance, he initially supported a proposal to return the

name of the beach to its former moniker, Pablo Beach. But after

thinking about it, he realized the cost could be too high.

"I can't support that nowadays because we just spent a whole

amount of money putting Jacksonville Beach signs up," Latham

said in a recent news story.

In another situation, Latham dismissed a city resident trying

to address recycling because the man was wearing a baseball cap. …

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