Jacksonville City Council President Says No To Public Forum On River Dredge

Aug 22, 2017

Jacksonville City Council President Anna Lopez Brosche said in a letter she will not be convening a public workshop about JAXPORT’s deepening of the St. Johns River to make way for larger cargo ships.

A couple other council members had asked her to consider the forum for the sake of transparency.

In her statement, Brosche lists 10 reasons why a public workshop on the dredge wouldn’t be appropriate. For one, JAXPORT is an independent authority and its board, appointed by the governor and mayor, voted to proceed with the deepening.

She also pointed out there’s no legislation on the matter before council, and there may never be – although she said a public forum may be appropriate, after an environmental lawsuit seeking to block the dredge project is resolved.

“JAXPORT Interim CEO Eric Green has made the commitment to participate in public discussions regarding the harbor deepening project upon resolution of the current lawsuit, at which time I will evaluate all of the relevant circumstances and consider sponsoring or holding a public workshop,” Brosche wrote.

JAXPORT plans to deepen 11 miles of the river a total cost of about $484 million to make way for bigger cargo business.

In a statement of his own, Councilman Tommy Hazouri said he’ll continue calling for a council-led public forum on the matter. And though he doesn’t object to the project, he thinks it should be properly vetted.

“I have continually called for a public hearing as I believe the ultimate cost of the dredging and the mitigation of the St. Johns River will be much greater than JAXPORT has publicly stated,” Hazouri wrote. “For every reason the Council President has provided, I believe there are many more questions and reasons to support the need for a public forum.”

Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at lkilbride@wjct.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.