Business Leaders, St. Johns Riverkeeper Find Compromise On Port Deepening

Jan 13, 2015

Jacksonville leaders (left to right) St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman, U.S. Congresswoman Corrine Brown, JAXPORT Chairman John Falconetti, Chamber of Commerce Chairman John Delaney, Mayor Alvin Brown and Chamber of Commerce President Daniel Davis announce a historic agreement Monday allowing plans for deepening the Jacksonville Harbor to move forward.
Credit Peter Haden / WJCT

Controversial plans to deepen the Jacksonville harbor could move forward after business leaders, city officials and environmentalists announced a compromise Monday.


Even Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown will admit: this is a case of strange bedfellows.

"It's not everyday that you see the business community and the environmental community sharing the same boat and rowing in the same direction," said Brown.

That boat is rowing south - to tear down the Rodman Dam in Putnam County. The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, City Hall and the Port Authority agreed to find the funding and permission to breach the dam. That would get millions of gallons of freshwater flowing into the St. Johns River every day and restore thousands of acres of wetlands. In return, the St. Johns Riverkeeper organization is agreeing to drop its federal lawsuit to stop the dredging.

But, St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman said, the deal has a time limit.

"The authorization and funding would have to happen during the state legislative session this spring," said Rinaman. "There is a very short window of opportunity for this solution, as well as to legally challenge, which we're currently working on as well."

Jacksonville-based U.S. Representatives, Republican Ander Crenshaw and Democrat Corrine Brown both support the agreement.

The Rodman Dam was built on the Ocklawaha River in 1968 as part of the failed Cross Florida Barge Canal.

St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman visited First Coast Connect this morning to discuss the controversial agreement