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Jacksonville Officials Looking Into Increasing Park Staffing, Blight Control

Jessica Palombo
Jacksonville's Confederate Park

Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Brown says he wants the city to consider full-time staffing at more parks to increase safety and  help parents feel more comfortable sending their kids to them.

“Not all parks, but some of our high-use parks have a full-time staff there. That’s something that I’d definitely like to explore,” said Brown, who wants to expand that to other parks.

The idea was one of several that came up Tuesday morning, as the Council’s Neighborhoods Community Investments and Services Committee discussed ideas for future legislation.

Council president Lori Boyer is having committees develop more proactive policies by setting time aside dedicated to hearing from experts and discovering where new legislation is needed.

In two weeks, park staffing will be the special topic discussed and after that, libraries.

Councilwoman Joyce Morgan said Tuesday she wanted to examine the maintenance schedule for city buildings like libraries, saying some haven’t been pressure washed in years.

Another committee member, Doyle Carter, said he’s working on legislation to have retired police officers supervise prisoners working on tasks like city building maintenance, or lawncare for city land.

“It would be a real good deal for us as far as getting blight taken care of,” he said.

And Councilman Garrett Dennis said he wants to hear more about where the city stands with foreclosing on properties with liens. He said he wants to revisit the “batch foreclosure process,” which involves the city foreclosing on many properties in one sweep.

“We may have an opportunity to do a blanket foreclosure and take possession of these properties and repurpose these properties whether it’s through affordable housing. Whether it’s through just demoing these properties and eliminating blight,” he said.

City attorney Peggy Sidman said it’s a good idea to figure out what the city wants to do with the properties before taking ownership of them.

Property foreclosure will be talking about in the Neighborhood Committee in October. 

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.