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City Council Bill Would Clear Up Hemming Park Funding Confusion

outdoor tables and chairs
Saphara Harrell
/
WJCT News

On Tuesday night the Jacksonville City Council began considering a bill to clear up funding issues surrounding Hemming Park.  

It’s one of the first items before the new City Council, which is back in session with 11 newly elected members.

New Council President Greg Anderson says the year is off to a good start.

“I think we got the job done tonight,” he said.

And he says things will be getting more interesting.  

“I think the Hemming Park bill is going to generate some conversation,” he said.

The nonprofit Friends of Hemming Park entered into a public-private partnership with the city of Jacksonville last year.

The city was to contribute $1 million, and Friends of Hemming Park was to raise $250,000 in private contributions during the first 18 months of the partnership.

A new bill sponsored by Councilman Bill Gulliford is aimed at clearing up what count as private funds.

Friends of Hemming Park CEO Vince Cavin says he was under the impression private contributions include food and drink sales. But recently, he was told, that’s not true under the current agreement.

“Money is money, and we’re bringing in the money to make the park beautiful and create a wonderful experience,” he said.

If the concession revenue doesn’t count toward the total, Cavin says Friends of Hemming Park would be $96,000 short of its obligation. But if Gulliford’s bill passes, the concession money would suffice

The Finance Committee will take up the question next Monday.