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Lawmaker works to get transportation for seniors affected by Winn-Dixie closure

Madison Manor residents say they rely on closing Beach Boulevard grocery store

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A state senator has begun working to find transportation options for more than 200 seniors who are worried about getting groceries because a Winn-Dixie that's within walking distance from their Southside complex is closing. 

Residents at the Madison Manor senior facility on Beach Boulevard said the grocery store, which is located across the street, is the only store they can get to because many no longer drive. 

To the east of the senior living complex, the closest groceries stores -- Rowe's Supermarket and Walmart -- are about a mile away. The closest grocery store going west is a Save-A-Lot, about 3 miles away. 

"Getting my groceries home and being able to get to the store are very important to me," Anastasia Dark, who lives at Madison Manor, told News4Jax on Friday.

RELATED: Winn-Dixie store's anticipated closure upsets seniors living across street

Winn-Dixie Store No. 72 on Beach Boulevard will be closing in June, which means seniors who resident at Madison Manor will no longer be able to walk to get groceries.

"The images of the seniors -- one man said, 'We really need it.' And another lady said, 'Well, we're not going to be able to cross the street,'" said Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville. "So it's my job to be a problem solver and to help get resources to people who may not know they exist."

Gibson held a meeting Friday afternoon with the Jacksonville Transportation Authority to talk about transportation options.

Madison Manor residents can get a senior star card through JTA and ride the normal route for free. Seniors said getting to the next closest grocery store won't be a problem, but getting home will be the issue because they have to cross busy Beach Boulevard and then it's still quite a walk from there. 

JTA mentioned it also operates the paratransit, which is a door-to-door pickup shuttle service that people can qualify for after filling out an application and submitting a medical form. That would cost $3 each ride, or $6 round trip, which both Gibson and the seniors said is too expensive. 

"To me, $6 is a lot of money. It's a lot. I know it doesn't sound like much but it really is," Dark said. "I have to pay my co-pay on my doctor bills."

Not only will seniors be impacted by the Winn-Dixie closure, but also parents such as Magdalena Sermon, who's a mother of four.

"(I'm) upset. I was asking them where the closest store was and they were, like, down in Arlington and then the Harvey's on University (Boulevard) and that's too far," Sermon said. "Too much time and (the Winn-Dixie) is really convenient because it's right down the street."

Gibson and JTA also said they'll be in contact with the city of Jacksonville about the length of the crosswalk time at the intersection of Parental Home Road and Beach Boulevard, as that was yet another concern for the group of seniors.