The city of Jacksonville Beach is considering changing its name for the first time in nearly a century.
The city last changed its name from Pablo Beach to Jacksonville Beach back in 1925 because city leaders at the time wanted to be associated with their larger neighbor to the west. The name change was also meant to help people outside the region know where the city was located geographically.
Before it was named Pablo Beach, the city was known as Ruby Beach, named after William and Eleanor Scull’s daughter Ruby. The Sculls are considered the founding family of the Jacksonville Beach area, according to the Beaches Museum.
Now Jacksonville Beach Mayor Chris Hoffman wants to know if residents are interested in a new name to better evoke a sense of place and reflect the community’s values.
“That would be the first step, to see if the citizens of our community even want to look at it,” Hoffman said. “Then we would take a more formal approach in gathering costs and what else would be involved in changing the actual name. But at this point, we are purely just throwing it out there for discussion.”
As of now, there is no formal process for gathering input.
“We are purely in the information gathering stage,” the mayor said. “We are so early in the process that we aren’t even really devoting staff time to evaluating the costs yet.”
If residents do ultimately support a name change, Hoffman said the process could take years.
The conversation about a potential name change started during a meeting on Monday where Hoffman and city staff were reviewing the city charter, where the name of the city is codified.
City names Hoffman is considering at the moment include one of the historic names, Pablo or Ruby Beach, or a shortened form of the current name, Jax Beach.
“But again, we are going to rely on citizen feedback. It's their city, and if they don't want to change the name, then we're not going to change the name,” Hoffman said. “But if they want us to look further into it, then we will.”