JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville could be spending hundreds of millions of dollars this upcoming year on various construction projects.
The concern now is how to funnel a good portion of that to areas that have been neglected for years.
Janice Harris, who has lived in Northwest Jacksonville all her life, says she has heard the promises but has not seen much action.
“They are not giving us any attention,” Harris said.
But City Council members say they are starting to pay attention. Two City Council committees — rules and finance — have approved a plan that addresses that issue. The measure, which was introduced by City Councilman Matt Carlucci, would have the city to spend at least 17% of all the money set aside for construction or capital improvements projects in specific parts of Jacksonville. It’s the old city boundaries that were in place prior to consolidation. The money would go toward road, draining and septic tank improvements.
“You have got to start somewhere, and a good place to start was the old Jacksonville city limits,” Carlucci said.
He says he talked with both Black and white community leaders, and they agree it’s a good place to begin.
Seventeen percent of the $250 million that the City Council is now considering for all construction projects is a small portion, but Carlucci says it does not have to stop there. He says that if the full council agrees, it would mean, at least for the next five years, those promises that had been ignored could be addressed
City Councilman Garrett Dennis says there are good intentions behind Carlucci’s plan, but he’s not going to sign off on it just yet.
“I think for some of my colleagues, it’s just a song and dance just to say, ‘Hey, I’m listening.’ But until we put dollars toward these projects, it’s just all talk,” Dennis said.
Ben Frazier of the Northside Coalition released a statement that referred to Carlucci’s plan.
"Citing 50 yearold broken promises dating back to the days consolidation, Councilman Matt Carlucci Sr. wants required spending for infrastructure in the city’s oldest areas. Yeah,...but! We say this is a piece meal approach that amounts to being way too little. This really a political mirage; an simply an illusion; It’s a well-intended effort that will still exclude many neighborhoods in dire need of basic infrastructure that are outside of the old city boundary,” the statements reads in part.
The City Council will take up the issue Tuesday as they mull over the city budget.
Right now, the mayor’s office is not commenting.