Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Churches Challenge the City Group Presents List of Priorities

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Churches Challenge the City Group Presents List of Priorities

Article excerpt

For the next month or so, city leaders will be grappling with a

homework assignment from members of a cross-section of

Jacksonville's churches.

On Thursday night, about 1,000 people gathered at DaySpring

Baptist Church north of LaVilla. There, members of ICARE --

Interchurch Coalition For Action, Reconciliation, and

Empowerment -- unveiled a survey of neighborhood concerns.

Based on responses from 1,300 members of various churches,

drugs and crime, streets and drainage improvements, along with

education, emerged as the top three issues in need of immediate

attention. The group prioritized concerns by category,

requesting city leaders come up with a written action plan in 30

days.

Mayor John Delaney did not attend the meeting, sending two

staffers instead. Susan Wiles, Delaney's deputy chief of staff,

said he should have been at the meeting.

"It was the subject of our hour-long staff meeting this

morning," Wiles said yesterday. "We just goofed . . ."

Wiles said Delaney hopes to meet with the group March 3.

An outline of the group's concerns includes:

Drugs and crime: The group identified 375 areas throughout

Jacksonville suspected as hot spots for drugs and crime. They

asked the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office to investigate the

locations, and to take action on 11 spots identified as

especially troubled.

Infrastructure: The group listed 330 concerns regarding

dilapidated housing, crumbling streets and drainage, and

streetlights. They asked the Mayor's Office to investigate and

give special attention to 15 of them. They also asked Delaney to

continue to demolish abandoned buildings in 1997 at the same

rate the city did in 1996, and that he increase the amount of

money available for emergency housing repairs by 25 percent next

fiscal year.

Education: Group members asked school system officials to meet

with them in the next two weeks to come up with a plan to reduce

the number of out-of-school suspensions. …

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