JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry is preparing his budget plan for next year which could include a new fire station, tearing down a portion of the Hart Expressway and overhauling dilapidated black cemeteries.
The mayor's staff is proposing capital improvement projects totaling more than $172 million next year and possibly as much as $726 million over the next five years.
Some of the biggest ticket items on the list include $5 million for a new fire station on the Southside, more than $1.3 million to repair Friendship Fountain and spending more than $2 million to restore African- American cemeteries in Jacksonville.
News4Jax I-Team investigations had uncovered terrible conditions of many of those cemeteries, including open graves and a lack of maintenance.
The mayor's staff is recommending to bring the cemeteries back to their original dignity.
"We dabbled $50,000, $100,000, and it just hasn't done any good and this is a comprehensive program to fix it," said Sam Mousa, chief administrative officer.
The city is also planning to begin work on a new medical examiner's office and is recommending spending a half-million dollars to begin that process.
The list of projects in the budget goes on to include library enhancements and road repairs. But one of the bigger projects involves tearing down a portion of the Hart Expressway.
The federal government has refused to fund tearing down a portion of the Hart Bridge expressway that runs from in front of the stadium and the shipyards property, but the mayor's staff is not giving up and is recommending to the mayor that the city along with the state spend $25 million next year to get it started.
The mayor has said that doing away with the ramp is key to opening up development of the shipyards and the stadium. That is why his staff said it should be key in the mayor's budget he will present next month.
"We believe the 25 million will take us a long way and getting the first phase done," Mousa said.
In the end, it's up to the Jacksonville City Council to make the final decision on what projects need to be funded in the capital budget.
You can read details of the entire capital budget plan being proposed by the mayor's staff HERE.