Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JEA Keeps Community Informed about Plans Agency Asks Residents for 'Wish List'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JEA Keeps Community Informed about Plans Agency Asks Residents for 'Wish List'

Article excerpt

At a recent meeting sponsored by JaxPride and JEA, 45 to 50 Southside community members were encouraged to learn French and dream big -- as if Santa Claus were coming to town. And dream they did.

By the end of the three-hour "charette," a French term that refers to a kind of neighborhood design brainstorming session, community members had discovered commonality in their concerns.

Some items on three wish lists they created included improvements to their neighborhood such as concern about residential vs. industrial lighting, irrigation and proper maintenance for landscape areas, new or improved rights of way, bike paths, traffic signals, help with flood zones and clogged ditches, and trash receptacles and benches positioned at city bus stops.

The meeting at Englewood High School included residents from the Englewood, Spring Park and San Souci neighborhoods.

First, JEA invited input on the company's decision to upgrade at least 17 utility sites in the area.

The utility company launched an initiative in 1999 to improve the aesthetics of its 1,165 water, sewer and electric facilities throughout Duval County, said Tom Vickery, a JEA project manager. The average site is about 300 to 400 square feet, but some can be as large as 3 to 4 acres, he said.

After District 4 City Councilwoman Suzanne Jenkins suggested that the public be involved, JEA formed a partnership with JaxPride, whose focus is community beautification, said Shirley Dasher, executive director of JaxPride.

"We do so many projects, but I said to the mayor, 'We are doing it to them, we are doing it for them, but we never do anything with them.' "

Last fiscal year, 34 sites were upgraded at a cost $2.4 million, said Craig Lollar, JEA project manager of the landscape team. This year's goal is to complete 38 sites, Vickery said.

"We are looking at high-profile facilities -- those in the middle of residential neighborhoods -- first," he said. …

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