City Officials Pause Boulevard Removal

By Benjamin Cox on May 20, 2024 at 1:33pm

The City of Jacksonville’s administration has put a halt to removing the downtown boulevards for now.

Mayor Andy Ezard walked back the removal of the boulevards last Monday night in an announcement to the city council during the workshop session. Ezard told the council that the action wasn’t official due a vote not being taken. Ezard says he was made aware of the error after Ward 3 Alderman Kent Hannant, Jr. pointed out that a vote was never taken on the issue by the council, and the initiative was just a discussion item and not an official action item listed on the agenda.

Ezard says there’s another reason that the city needs to go through the proper procedure: “We are going to kind of ease up and delay the island removal at this time. We felt that we really need to uncover every stone before we take them out because you can only do this once. We don’t to take them out and try to put them back in. We know of certainly the safety aspect, which is what drew us to want to remove them. We are still cognizant of those. We are also very cognizant of what our citizens want. I’ve had folks reach out on both sides of the issue. Overwhelmingly, it’s been asking us to please reconsider removing them. We are just going to take our time and take a step back to see how this summer goes with the signage that was put in place last Fall. If we need to move forward with removing them, we will take an official action.”

Ezard says that some discussions last Monday night also brought up some good ideas that were not previously explored at the last meeting in April: “There are things that may be able to be done that we didn’t realize. If there are other ideas, like there was one at the meeting suggesting that we remove only half of the island – whatever the idea may be, I’m not going to say that we are doing any of them – but we are going to take a harder, closer look at things and listen to any ideas. We’re going to be respectful and that’s how the process should work. Everybody makes mistakes. We’re going to move forward and get this one right eventually.”

Ezard said during the meeting that public engagement on the topic had been high since the decision for possible removal of the islands was made last month. He says by going through the process and waiting a little longer, it will allow everyone to be heard on the matter and see if any further safety concerns arise, despite the new signage being up to deter large trucks from entering the downtown area.