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Jacksonville Councilman To File Bill To Save Spanish-American War Fort

Ryan Benk
Entrance to the fort's armory.

A fundraiser to buy a Spanish-American War fort may get some help from Jacksonville.

The North Florida Land Trust is trying to raise $400,000 dollars to keep the fort from being demolished.

City money could help reach that goal more quickly.

The property owner intends to redevelop the fort’s site if the trust doesn’t raise the money in four months. So far, $60,000 is in the bank and once it hits $100,000 the Dolores Barr Weaver Fund is pledging a match.

But that still leaves the conservation group halfway to its goal. Now, Jacksonville Councilman Tommy Hazouri is filing a bill Wednesday allocating more $162,500 to help make up the difference.

Jim McCarthy, executive director of the land trust, said preserving the fort is in the city’s best interest.

“The city gets the benefit of having a park which it doesn't have to pay for any of the maintenance of because the National Park Service is going to maintain it,” he said.

And McCarthy said it would complete Jacksonville’s military-history collection.

“It’ll mean that Jacksonville will have a military installation, or a fort or a historic place that represents every war that Florida has been a part of,” he said.

If the fort is added to the list, Jacksonville would have historical sites from five major conflicts: the Spanish-American War, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. Hazouri’s bill would take money from the city’s dedicated environmental-land acquisition fund once the land trust raises the rest privately. 

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.