Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ship Sails in under City's Discount

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ship Sails in under City's Discount

Article excerpt

The tall ship Europa sailed into Jacksonville's waters last week -- with a gust of money from city coffers.

The city paid $20,000 for the 80-year-old, 83-foot vessel to visit Jacksonville for the light parade yesterday and to anchor near Alltel Stadium for the Jaguars game today.

Europa, a Netherlands-flagged vessel, is the largest tall ship to visit the city since 1991.

"I think it's a good thing for the city," said City Councilwoman Lynnette Self, who sponsored council legislation to pay for the visit.

The taxpayers' expense is justified, because the ship attracts attention to the riverfront and gives people the chance to see a historic vessel, Self said.

Organizers would have arranged sponsorships for Europa's visit, but time was in short supply, Self said. And the owner of the vessel, a school ship for the Enkhuizen Nautical College in Amsterdam, originally wanted $45,000, Self said.

NO DECISION ON CSX CROSSING: The long-running ruckus over CSX Transportation's improper closing of a northwest Jacksonville crossing neared a conclusion last week.

Then it dodged the ending.

City Hall has sued the railroad company, saying the 1998 closing of the Old Kings Road crossing should be reversed because it was unnecessary and illegal. CSX, which never obtained a permit to shut down the crossing, argues the crossing poses too much of a hazard to reopen.

In Circuit Court on Tuesday, attorneys for the city, CSX and Tremron Jacksonville, a business near the crossing, questioned witnesses. But a three-hour hearing that was expected to end with a ruling by Judge L. Haldane Taylor instead took longer than expected because of extended questioning.

"Folks, you've been at it for two years, and if you want to take two more years before me, I'll be here," Taylor said.

Now, the attorneys are expected to decide this week when to continue the hearing with witnesses and closing statements.

Meanwhile, a state administrative appeal by the city is ongoing. A ruling is not expected until the end of April.

LUCKY BOOTS: When U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., got ready to partake in F-15 training last week at the Florida Air National Guard base at Jacksonville International Airport, he pulled out his old black boots. …

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