JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – New details about a potential University of Florida satellite campus in the works for Jacksonville are slowly emerging weeks after it was first announced.
During a meeting Tuesday of the JEA board, News4JAX learned the utility sent a letter to the university, saying that it’s pleased to be part of the plan. It intends to support the campus and offered $10 million worth of services.
In the letter, JEA said it’s pushing for the campus to be built near the water plant located along 1st Street in Springfield, but nothing is set in stone as of Wednesday. However, JEA will give UF the $10 million in services regardless of where the campus ends up.
“What we said in the letter is that we would do in-kind services, and we provide for every customer water electric chilled water some site work along in that particular case, some site work along the Greenway that runs on that property. So it is part of what we would support that would then also have revenue that would come back to us from the buildings that are being built in the end the increase in the number of people that would work here that is how we operate and support economic development,” said JEA CEO Jay Stowe.
One of the items on the Jacksonville City Council’s agenda Tuesday night was a public hearing to allow people a chance to voice their opinions on a bill that would authorize a $20 million grant to the university to begin planning the campus.
No one spoke directly on the topic, and one reason could be that information about the plan is just not out there. It’s a project that has city leaders excited, but public information is still scarce.
The mayor’s office and a representative from UF met with several council members one on one on Wednesday and Councilman Matt Carlucci was one of them.
“They need to catch up and start telling people what it’s about,” Carlucci told News4JAX. “And so that’s what my meeting was about today. And that’s why I agreed to talk with you today, to give you the information. The campus will be downtown and there’ll be 2,000-plus students. They’ll offer masters and doctorates from the University of Florida, in health care, finance technology.”
There are still a lot of questions to be answered, but the biggest one is where there campus will be located. The mayor’s office will continue to meet with council members one-on-one but some council members want a workshop so a lot more of their questions can be answered.
One place the campus won’t go is in West Palm Beach, at least for now.
More than a year after UF announced another new satellite campus in West Palm Beach, the school announced on Tuesday that it is putting that campus on hold, citing “divisions in the local community.”
“Given some regrettable divisions in the local community, the University of Florida is pausing deliberation about a possible West Palm Beach campus. As Florida’s flagship university and a land-grant institution, UF is committed to being a unifying presence throughout the state and does not want to divide communities we aim to serve. The university has an obligation to the public to take a fresh look at any possible South Florida graduate campus. Discussions about the feasibility of a West Palm Beach project will now be folded into our larger, six-month strategic review of UF’s programmatic priorities and opportunities,” UF wrote in a statement.
WPTV reported that issues between the school and local developer Jeff Greene stemmed from 5 acres he was set to donate for the project.