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Jacksonville’s Finance Committee Wants Parks And Recreation Funding Spent Wisely

Saphara Harrell

The consensus at Thursday’s budget hearing was Jacksonville’s Finance Committee wants Parks and Recreation funding spent wisely.

Mayor Lenny Curry is proposing giving the Parks, Recreation and General Services Department nearly $1.5 million for projects, from the city’s Capital Improvement Plan. That’s an increase from a half-million last year.

And the department is asking for an increase of $250,000 to go toward overtime salaries so the city can put on special programs.

Daryl Joseph with Parks and Recreation says because more events are happening downtown, the staff is working more.

But Councilman John Crescimbeni is concerned with the department paying police officers to work at kids’ programs, without giving them guidelines.

“We want them to interact with these kids, that’s the bridge we’re trying to build,” Crescimbeni said. “We need some improvement on that. So I was very disappointed to hear that this police officer was showing up all these days with no instructions. I mean that’s inadequate.”

And Councilman Reginald Brown supports the million-dollar program budget increase.

Brown said, “We take pride in having the largest park system in the state of Florida, but we provide the least amount of money, and it contradicts what we’re trying to do.”

On Friday, the Finance Committee will take up the Downtown Investment Authority and Sports and Entertainment.

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.