Outgoing Edward Waters College President Nathaniel Glover is ending his eight-year tenure leading the historically black private college by celebrating campus upgrades and an expansion.
Glover led a blessing Tuesday morning for the college’s future athletic field -- a $4 million investment from the city, as well as a ribbon cutting for a school building EWC bought from the Duval County school district for $10.
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Glover said when he initially asked Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry for city funding he was apprehensive, due to the city’s history with funding projects on his side of town.
“There have been a number of promises made to the Northside, and not very substantive responses,” Glover said.
Curry said he agrees with that. “You know I’ve heard infrastructure neglect, promises made when consolidation happened that weren’t kept,” he said. “A whole series of things.”
But after Curry recommended EWC projects in his budget, City Council approved them last summer. About $8.7 million was approved for the athletic field and refurbishing one of the school’s dormitory buildings, plagued by air conditioning issues and mold.
“Youth is a gift, this is an investment in our youth. It’s our responsibility to nurture that gift but it also sends the message to the rest of Jacksonville that we want to invest in every neighborhood,” Curry said.
EWC’s football team will play on the field, which is expected to be ready by the fall of 2019. The team plays at area high schools.
“It’s going to give us a place that we can call home,” Athletic Director Stanley Cromartie said.
Glover points out the field is also for the community, an area of town called Health Zone 1, which has the greatest unmet health needs in Duval, resulting in high rates of diabetes and heart disease. The field will have a walking track and youth football leagues can use it, Glover said.
“It’s going to be a safe environment for citizens who are trying to control their weight, blood pressure and all of that,” he said.
The field sits between EWC’s campus and the old James Weldon Johnson Academic and Career Training Center building, which happens to be the school EWC recently purchased for the school district for $10 after leasing it for a year for $1.
Glover said it expands EWC’s classroom space by 101,000 square feet and the building is appraised at $4.4 million.
At the time of the deal, some school board members were concerned the $10 price tag was too low, but after EWC agreed to let the district use some of the space to help students earn Certificates of Completion from high school, the board passed the measure.
There’s also a stipulation in the building deed that it cannot be turned into a charter school.
Glover's last day as president is July 16, when A. Zachary Faison takes over.
Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride