Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Herbert Worried Corps Will Leave City

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Herbert Worried Corps Will Leave City

Article excerpt

The way Adam Herbert sees it, it is time for U.S. Rep. Corrine

Brown and Mayor John Delaney to put up or shut up.

In a blunt news conference yesterday, the president of the

University of North Florida warned that the U.S. Army Corps of

Engineers will leave Jacksonville if Delaney and Brown don't

come up with a plan to keep the agency.

Until this week, the corps planned to move 650 jobs from a

cramped building downtown to new digs at UNF's suburban campus.

But that plan was opposed by Brown and Delaney, who did not want

to see so many high-paying technical jobs leave the struggling

downtown.

And for the time being, it appears that Brown has successfully

blocked any corps move out of her district until she can come up

with a plan of her own.

In the wake of Herbert's remarks, Brown said she has been

assured by Pentagon officials that the corps' first priority is

staying in Jacksonville.

"Army corps headquarters knows how valuable they are to this

area, and I am confident they will stay," Brown said.

While he understands their reasons for not wanting to lose the

downtown jobs, Herbert said the mayor and the congresswoman are

playing with fire. Killing the UNF move without a suitable

alternative, he argued, only encourages other cities to court

the corps.

"All of us know that communities throughout the state would

love to become the headquarters site for the corps," Herbert

said. "My UNF colleagues and I are very concerned about the

future of this community."

A Brown aide said the Jacksonville Democrat is working on a

plan to get a new downtown headquarters for the corps, which

oversees operations in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin

Islands from the Charles Bennett Federal Building.

District officials have made no secret of their desire to get

out of the Bennett Building, which they say is too small and in

need of renovation.

Ronnie Simmons, Brown's chief of staff, said Brown will unveil

her plan next month. At the same time, he said some in the

community are underestimating Brown's ability to get what she

wants in Washington. …

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