Location: Wells Fargo Community Learning Center (1601 N. Main Street)
The meeting began with Christina Parrish-Stone, SPAR Executive Director, greeting guests, acknowledging SPAR Board members in the audience, acknowledging Councilman Reggie Gaffney presence in the audience, and highlighting the meeting agenda.
1) GNP apartment project on Klutho Park. After an extensive search for an architect was held, which lasted several months, an architect for the project has been chosen by GNP and they are actively planning to develop the site. Councilman Gaffney has also met with GNP recently discuss their development plans.
2) Boys & Girls Club project at 10th & Liberty. The Boys & Girls Club is still fundraising to meet their goal for the project. Over $2.2 million of their $3 million target has been raised, and other funding resources are now being explored.
3) Hogans Creek Greenway. The second phase of the greenway (a pedestrian pathway connecting multiple parks in the neighborhood) is being redesigned to better fit the architecture and landscaping needs of the area. This second phase will include JEA allowing the greenway path to go across their property just South of 1st & Laura. JEA's property has been fenced off from the public for over a decade, so allowing the greenway to pass through is significant and a key connection in the plan. Adjacent sidewalk repairs in the area will also be made as part of this.
4) Klutho Park improvements. SPAR has worked with JEA and the city's Parks Department to identify numerous opportunities to improve and remove blight from Klutho Park. JEA will remove some of the large piping which crosses Hogans Creek, will remove duplicate telephone poles in and around park, and refurbish or replace manhole covers in park.
5) Main Street improvements. SPAR spoke with FDOT recently who reported that construction on historic Main Street bridge just south of 1st & Main Street will be finished in April 2017. The Henry Klutho-designed bridge was found to have structural defaults in 2016, and will have been closed about one year by the time it reopens. In May 2017, Main Street between State Street and Union Street in Downtown Jacksonville will be converted to two way, enabling better access to Springfield's Main Street from Downtown. SPAR has worked with various city departments, and both Councilman Newby and Councilman Gaffney, over the past year to secure $22,000 in landscaping improvements for Main Street. Specifically, this will fund removing dead or dying trees, planting new trees, and installing irrigation and ground cover in tree wells. Special thanks to Jolee Gardner, SPAR volunteer, who spearheaded this project.
6) Public Works updates. SPAR met with the Director of Public Works for the City of Jacksonville recently, which resulted in the following:
- Traffic Calming. The current speed limit on residential streets in the neighborhood is 30mph. There is an opportunity to lower the speed limit by 5mph to 25mph, however it would require both effort by the community and Councilman Gaffney. Per state law, the speed limit in our neighborhood can only be lowered to 25mph. A 5mph reduction in speed has been shown to have significant positive affect in other cities and communities around the US. To pursue this, Councilman Gaffney would need to sponsor legislation to lower the speed limit to 25mph. The total cost of adding and changing new speed limit signs (two speed limit signs per block would be installed) in our neighborhood is roughly $40,000, and the community would be responsible for covering half that cost (about $20,000) with the city paying the other half. SPAR may pay a significant chunk of that, but donations from residents or stakeholders would probably be necessary as well. In addition to considering speed limits, the Mayor's office has directed Public Works to complete a study of traffic in our neighborhood specifically addressing stop signs and traffic lights. The results of this study are expected to result in some changes to stop signs and traffic lights in our area, but probably not extensive changes. Another possible option to help reduce vehicle speeds in the neighborhood is road striping, to clearly indicate where the driving lanes are vs parking areas. This may be helpful as drivers would perceive a more narrow driving lane, resulting in slower speeds. In the past residents have been resistant to adding striping on residential roads. A survey will be distributed to the community soon to gauge how the community feels about these various options.
- Streets, Sidewalks & Parking. The City of Jacksonville is considering installing bicycle lanes in the neighborhood, and is touring the area soon to survey what roads may be the best candidates. SPAR is working with JEA and Public Works on a possible brick street restoration demonstration project for W. 4th Street between Main Street and Pearl Street. This three block stretch is mostly brick with large patches of asphalt, and is in bad condition with significant dips and bumps along the way. The goal would be to assess the costs of restoring brick streets while repairing the infrastructure underneath, so decisions could be made about possible future brick street restorations. SPAR is working with Public Works to identify a limited number of sidewalks in our area that are in most need of repair. The city does not have enough funds to repair sidewalks throughout Jacksonville in a timely manner, thus the current system is first come, first serve. Meaning, the city fixes sidewalks in the order of which requests have been received. However, as our neighborhood infrastructure is older and often more neglected than the rest of Jacksonville, Public Works has agreed to prioritize a limited number of sidewalks SPAR requests. In doing so, the type of sidewalk material should be considered: stamped hexagon concrete or actual hexagon pavers. Stamped concrete costs less, thus more sidewalks could be repaired. Pavers costs more, thus less sidewalk area could be repaired. To date, SPAR has preferred pavers as it more closely matches the historic look and material of the orginial sidewalks. Current city policy in all Historic Districts is to replace sidewalks with like materials, using stamped concrete to replace damaged concrete sidewalks and using new pavers to replace damaged paver sidewalks. A survey to the community about which sidewalks should be prioritized and what materials are preferable will be distributed soon. Councilman Gaffney reported that he has asked the city's Code Enforcement not to ticket vehicles parked on the curb for over 24 hours in our neighborhood, as many residents do not have driveways or garages. Councilman Gaffney requests that anyone who receives a parking tickets for leaving their car parked on the curb for more than 24 hours contact his office with that information so he can address it appropriately.
- Sanitation. SPAR has worked with Public Works to change the city's street sweeping routine, which often resulted in streets not being properly cleaned. Changes include not sweeping on garbage or recycle days, waiting to sweep streets until after 8am (when many residents have driven their cars to work), and notifying SPAR ahead of time before street sweeping occurs. The city has not agreed to notify residents in the neighborhood, however, so SPAR will contemplate the best way to inform the community ahead of time. Public Works has also agreed to replace the old, damaged pebble facade trash cans on Main Street with new trash cans. In addition, the city is willing to remove the pebble facade trashcans placed at random locations throughout the neighborhood. The city does not empty or maintain these trashcans. SPAR will reach out to residents in the areas where these pebble trashcans are placed now to see if they'd like them removed - no replacements would be provided.
- Light Poles. SPAR and other community partners created, purchased and hung decorative "Historic Springfield" banners on light poles along 8th Street and Main Street in 2016. However, strong storms ripped through the area shortly after, resulting in fallen or damaged banners. Many of the light poles had been previously damaged as well, and thus the banners would not hang appropriately. Public Works and JEA have agreed to repair the light poles, which would then enable the banners to be re-hung.
7) Councilman Gaffney reports that the J-bill, supported by SPAR and other entities, is going through the State legislature now . If passed, it would enable Springfield and other select historic neighborhoods in Jacksonville to allow restaurants of a smaller size (1800 square feet and 100 seats) to serve liquor, making them more economically viable and encouraging business investment in our area.
8) Proposed changes to the Springfield zoning overlay and Historic District regulations. Councilman Gaffney reported that he supports protecting the Springfield zoning overlay, and will advocate for City Council to not approve the proposed settlement agreement as is, which includes language that would dramatically impact the Springfield zoning overlay without due process. Instead, Councilman Gaffney and SPAR urge City Council to require changes to the Springfield zoning overlay to go through a thorough and thoughtful process, including the city's Planning Department and community input, which is typical in making zoning changes such as this.
The new schedule for public meetings where people can provide their input in-person on this issue is:
February 22nd @ 5pm - the City Council's Land Use & Zoning committee meeting (City Hall, 1st floor).
- February 28th @ 5pm - the full City Council meeting (City hall, 1st floor).
Councilman Gaffney mentioned that those who attend public meetings to provide their input are often the most persuasive.
9) Upcoming events. Volunteer and sponsorship opportunities for the Historic Springfield Tour of Homes on May 20th & 21st are now available. Seven homes will be featured within walking or biking distance, and the Tour will be featured extensively in Jacksonville Magazine, along with major Tour sponsors. A new on-going free event called "Second Sundays in Klutho Park" will debut on April 9th. The Spring to Fall event series will feature live musicians, craft beer, fresh produce, and family friendly activities. This event is sponsored by SPAR and the city's Parks Department. Vystar Credit Union recently opened a new branch at the corner of W. 7th & Main Street. Upon doing so, they engaged SPAR on how to get involved with the community. Vystar chose to be the title sponsor of the July 4th Throwback Baseball Game, and presented a check for $2,000 to SPAR as an investment in the community. Thank you!
About 80 people attended the meeting, ending at 7:30pm