Avondale’s Fishweir Creek could be made swimmable by 2020 — that’s one of the goals behind an estimated $6,539,700 restoration project the Jacksonville City Council is set to approve Tuesday night.
The city would be responsible for paying 35 percent of the tab.
Construction crews were working to renovate waterfront apartments at Fishweir Creek off St. Johns Avenue Monday afternoon.
A mix of human activity and storms are blamed for the deterioration of the creek. The state Department of Environmental Protection says it used to be swimmable and fishable. But now it’s shallow, with docks extending to mud.
Fishweir is in Councilman Jim Love’s district, and he remembers how different it was 35 years ago when he could navigate his little runabout motorboat throughout the creek and even see manatees.
“It had the plants there. It had good waterflow,” he said. “But unfortunately over time with the construction and without the current laws we have in place now a lot of the sediment filled it.”
At a recent city council committee meeting, a city engineer said Jacksonville reached out to the Army Corps of Engineers to take on this project back in 2007.
The federal project to restore the creek would dredge up sediment buildup and remove invasive species, as well as plant native vegetation.
The city plans to spend about $2.5 million on the project, with the federal government paying the rest. If the total project cost increases or decreases the city would still responsible for 35 percent of it. The city set its dollars aside in the 2016 and 2017 budgets.
During a committee meeting last week, Councilman John Crescimbeni had some concerns about the city spending so much on the creek, asking the city engineer if the city had approached the Army Corps of Engineers about restoring other creeks.
“We have a lot of tributaries that get very little attention. I get calls all the time from people who live on this creek or that waterway,” Crescimbeni said.
If City Council approves the partnership agreement Tuesday, the Army Corps of Engineers will start with stakeholder meetings before bidding out the project. The three-to-four month project would then start in 2019.
Love said he constituents are excited to see the results.
“They can’t wait,” he said. “Not many of them know what it looked like a long time ago like I do. But a lot of them know what it looks like now and they don’t like it.”
Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.