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Extension Of Jacksonville's Southbank Riverwalk On Hold As Lawmakers Seek Answers On Funding

Kevin Meerschaert

A plan to extend the length of the Southbank Riverwalk renovations is on hold temporarily while city lawmakers look for answers about where the money for the project is coming from.A City Council committee declined Tuesday to put funding on the fast track.  

The city is replacing the old wood planks of the Riverwalk with bricks. The plan has been around for years, but the specifics have changed several times.

Last year Mayor Alvin Brown announced the project would begin, but there was only funding to renovate about three quarters of the existing riverwalk. It would reach to the Wyndam hotel and not all the way to the School Board Building where the Riverwalk currently ends.

Councilmembers say they were never informed of that change.

It will take an additional $2 million to extend the walk to the School Board Building, and officials with the city's Public Works department say they were able to find the money.

But, City Councilman John Crescimbeni said he’s not getting straight answers from project officials.

"In fact what I think I'm getting is a different answer each week and I find that not only very troubling but very concerning," he said.

"I think the City Council and the taxpayers should be getting straight answers, not twisted convoluted answers at council meetings and committee meetings, and quite frankly I'm pretty disturbed about the kind of information we're getting out of our Public Works Department."

Councilman Richard Clark said he wants to look into how the city is about to find millions of dollars to complete such projects. He believes some departments don’t send unspent money back into the general fund as they are supposed to.

Additional funding for the Riverwalk is expected to be approved by the City Council in the coming weeks.

You can follow Kevin Meerschaert on Twitter @KMeerschaertJax.

Kevin Meerschaert has left WJCT for new pursuits. He was the producer of First Coast Connect until October of 2018.