Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Private Land for Public Access $2.6-Million Plan Opens Intracoastal

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Private Land for Public Access $2.6-Million Plan Opens Intracoastal

Article excerpt

For those who own land on the Intracoastal Waterway, the view can be breathtaking with its tidal salt marshes, live oaks, swamp bays and abundance of wildlife.

Jacksonville City Councilman Jerry Holland wants to make the landscape available for everyone.

He may soon be able to if the City Council votes this month to spend $2.6 million on about 260 acres of land along the west bank of the waterway, south of Holiday Harbor off San Pablo Road. The purchase would protect the environmentally sensitive land from development and give the public access to the Intracoastal.

"It's all built out on San Pablo Road," Holland said. "With so little land, it was kind of important to really find this one and purchase this one."

Holland, who has lived off San Pablo for the last 20 years, explored the land last year. Before he took office last summer, he wrote a letter to Mayor John Delaney about buying two adjoining properties along the Intracoastal. Last month, Delaney introduced the proposal to the council.

If the council approves, the city will spend $1.8 million on Whitehall Properties Limited's 234-acre tract and $800,000 for Charles and Wanda Bender's adjacent 25.37-acre plot. The council will vote on the Whitehall property on June 27 and the Bender land on July 11. Three City Council committees are currently reviewing the proposed purchases.

On May 1, the Jacksonville Beach City Council decided to hire a national conservation group to apply for a $12,000 grant to preserve another piece of land along the waterway, a 25-acre parcel on the east bank.

The Whitehall and Bender land acquisitions would fall under Delaney's $300 million Preservation Project. To qualify for the project, a property must be considered environmentally sensitive or in danger of being developed in a densely populated area.

"It's just a matter of doing all that we can to establish the future," said Susie Wiles, the mayor's chief of staff. …

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