JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The News4Jax I-TEAM is hearing from more people living in one Jacksonville neighborhood who say they’ve suffered decades of neglect at the hands of the city.
Residents of the Christobel neighborhood learned this week that the city doesn’t have enough money to convert their septic tanks into city sewer systems after promising them the service in the late 1960s.
The News4Jax I-TEAM took residents' concerns to local leaders to get answers for those residents.
Jacksonville City Councilwoman Ju’Coby Pittman, who represents District 8, said Wednesday she’s 100% dedicated to finding the money to complete the septic tank phaseout program.
On Wednesday, the I-TEAM also spoke to longtime Northside residents who said it is a shame that they may not live to see the city fulfill its promise.
“Think about the older people like myself, these older communities like this, and do something for them,” said Northside resident William Cherry Sr.
When it comes to city sewer services, nothing has changed for Cherry since he moved into his Northside home more than 60 years ago. Neglected and abandoned describe the way he and his neighbors feel after learning the city doesn’t have enough money now to phase out their septic tanks as promised.
″I don’t feel good about it, but I’ve had to live with it these many years, so I guess I’ll still have to live with it until the city can find some money like they found the money to do that lot over there," Cherry said. “That’s a lot of money to just put it over there when you have people out there that you’ve promised something since the 60s.”
Cherry was referencing Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry’s announcement that the city wants to borrow more than $208 million to redevelop Lot J. Cherry said his neighborhood and their health is a more pressing matter.
“I feel very slighted and I’m quite sure everyone in this area would feel the same way about it," Cherry said.
Pittman said she’s committed to trying to find an alternative funding source after the septic tank phaseout of two other communities ended up costing the city more than expected.
“If we can find money for Lot J, I also feel we can find funding for communities that have been left behind,” Pittman said. “Maybe also look at some bond money, you know, that could be available to us and there’s also been talk of maybe even stormwater fees that’s a possibility.”
Unfortunately, the City Council doesn’t know how much extra money it’s going to need to complete the septic tank phaseout program because it’s still taking bids on projects ahead of the Christobel neighborhood. Pittman said the City Council likely won’t have a dollar amount until the end of the year or sometime early in 2021.