JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The uproar over renaming Hemming Park to James Weldon Johnson Park is prompting the Jacksonville City Council to consider making some changes in its procedure on renaming buildings and parks.
When Councilman Garrett Dennis first proposed the name change for the park, he followed council rules. There was only one official public hearing at a City Council meeting.
While the majority of council members voted for the name change, many believe the process of renaming parks and public buildings needs to be improved. That is why Councilman Ron Salem plans to introduce legislation laying out new rules on name changes.
Salem’s main concern is the lack of input from the public with only one public hearing required.
“I am not comfortable with that,” Salem said. He told News4Jax that naming or a renaming should be a much more lengthy process with more public input and more public hearings.
That issue was debated Wednesday morning among some council members who were giving ideas on what should take place.
Councilman Dennis takes issue with changing the process. He believes the current procedure is fine.
“With one public hearing we negotiate multi-million dollar deals with the same six week process,” Dennis said. He said extending the process is “ludicrous.”
Councilman Al Ferraro represents the area in Fort Caroline where the city’s newest park is being built. It’s called Freedom Park and should open in November.
Currently, there is no issue with the name. The park will honor the backgrounds of the descendants of people from that area of Jacksonville.
“By doing this is to bring everyone together. Not to have this as a divisive thing. This is to celebrate,” Ferraro said.
Legislation is expected to be filed soon.