Eureka Gardens residents organize tenants' group

Local pastor says tenants' association will give residents voice in improving area

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Residents took a major step toward the improvement of the controversial Eureka Gardens apartment complex Thursday when they voted on a new tenants' association.

The residents met Thursday at Wayman Ministries, a church across the street from the complex, to discuss how to stop crime in and around the complex.

Since the big push to reduce crime at Eureka Gardens began weeks ago, there's been less news about violent crime happening in the area. Pastor Mark Griffin, who's been spearheading the outreach project from Wayman Ministries, calls that a win.

"Tonight's meeting is the culmination of all the previous meetings," Griffin said. "Tonight, we're actually organizing the tenants' association of Eureka Gardens."

Griffin said now that the tenants are organized they can have a voice in improving security in the area.

"They will elect officers tonight. By the time we leave here in an hour or so, they will have formal organization," Griffin said.

Many residents still fear a criminal element that's been on the property and were afraid to speak publicly, but Annette Sherman's a grandmother who said the neighborhood is improving.

"It was rough out here at one time, (but) it's getting better, much better," Sherman said. "Everybody's working together and getting on the teenagers, the younger generation."

One question that still needs to be resolved is what happens between the management group and City Councilman Warren Jones, who's talked about asking the feds to pull low-income housing vouchers unless the complex improves security. Griffin said both sides met today.

"This has nothing to do with that, and it's interesting, because you talk about the councilman -- who I greatly respect -- and the owners involved, I think they're both well-meaning," Griffin said. "But in between all these conversations there's the residents."

News4Jax attempted to contact Jones and Rev. Richard Hamlet, who runs a large ministry out of Tennessee that manages Eureka Gardens. They have not responded on the status of their meeting.

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