Sunday, October 08, 2006

Skate Springfield?

Dear Springfield Neighbor,

Due to the ash contamination in Schell Park, the park’s future is very much up in the air. Until some form of remediation, or cap is completed, the park is an unusable site for any sort of recreation.

Recently an idea was brought up in the neighborhood to build a skate park on that site. The skate park would be helpful in containing the contamination by covering it with a layer of concrete, and would simultaneously improve the park’s functionality and make it available for recreation use by neighborhood families and children.

The design of the park that we would like to see would be that of a skate plaza. Skate plazas are built to look like a city park with landscaping, fountains, and sculptures, but intended to meet the needs of those with skateboards, scooters, and bikes. They are inherently multi-use, and can serve as a regular public park, suitable for relaxing, picnicking, or even as a concert or play venue.

The first step toward having a park like this built is to have the support of the neighbors around the park. We feel that a park like this would only benefit our community. It will contain the contamination in the park, be aesthetically pleasing, provide a place of recreation for neighborhood families, as well as draw other families to our great community.

We would appreciate your support as we work to make this park safe, usable, and esthetically pleasing for the entire community.

Please contact us at downtownparks(at), if you have any questions or would like to assist us in improving Schell Park.


Phil Collins

Dan Blanchard

Jaimee Smith

Thursday, August 31, 2006



I have been bombarding City Hall with questions and suggestions regarding Hogans Creek and the parks and land near the poor polluted old creek.

First, a little tidbit for those who like history.

Did you know that Hogans Creek acted as a natural fire break during Jacksonvilles great fire in 1901. The only place the fire crossed the creek was a lumber yard that sat across the creek in what is now Confederate Park.

So basically, the reason Springfield blew up to be the booming neighborhood it was from 1901-1925 was because that creek saved Springfield from the same fate as the rest of downtown. After the exhausted denizens of downtown riffled through the charred remains of thier homes, they moved north of Hogans Creek to turn a sleepy little farming community into the residential center of downtown.

I dare say its our turn to see if we can repay the favor to that poor little creek.


I have officially re-started requesting meetings with Congresswoman Brown, of Floridas 3rd Congressional District, or as Stephen Colbert might call it, Floridas Fighting 3rd... It is my goal to get her to earnestly work towards federal funding for a Hogans Creek Cleanup. Last time, about a year ago, I sent a series of faxs, emails, and phone calls to both her DC office and her Jacksonville Office. These attempts didnt even warrant so much as a phone call from an intern in her office asking me to "please quit it".


During the last week and a half I have sent a series of emails to various people whose emails end in

It is my sincere hope to assist Jennifer Holbrook anyway I can as she lauches her SPYS kids sports program. One of my requests was to Parks and Recreation regarding the installation of irigation in Klutho Park. Lorenzo Williams, the director of Park maintenance replied to my email after an email from City Councilwoman Locket-felder sent to him said:

Please let me know what can/will be done.

I have to admit I was a bit shocked to see that the councilwoman was willing to help, albeit a one line email to a city employee. I have been somewhat vociferous in my opposition to many of the councilwomans past fiscal deicisons, particularly those regarding our districts bond money, and didnt really think she would support anything attached to my name.

I was wrong.

So, the email from Mr Williams asked me to call his "point man" on irrigation issues, Steve McyIntyre. I recieved a phone call back from Steve today, where he told me the cost of installing irrigation in Klutho park for two small youth soccer fields could be as much as TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS.

I wont even bother expounding on that. One can only assume that the city is using golden PVC for thier irrigation piping.


From another email I sent out regarding developing a comprehensive plan for Hogans Creek, I got a reply from Ed Hall, who is the Director of Jacksonvilles Public works dept.

Here is what mr Hall had to say in regards to my rant.
Flood Reduction: A project to reduce flooding along Hogan Creek has been underway for several years. The initial study identified contamination issues in the creek that would have made channel dredging too costly for the flood reduction benefit gained. However, flood reduction was gained by constructing stormwater treatment ponds upstream within the watershed. Flood reduction will also be gained with the replacement of the Bay Street Bridge and channel widening at the mouth of the creek and the river. This project is scheduled to commence construction in January 2007.

Eco-Restoration: The USACOE project will be a good first at restoring Hogan Creek. The city as a funding partner has committed to pay all costs associated with required contamination remediation/removal in the project footprint. We look forward to this project being reactivated by the corps in the future.

Hogan Creek Greenway: Walking Path along the creek including greening landscape—Design is underway with estimated bid letting in May 2007.

St. Johns River and Tributary TMDL Cleanup: The city is obligated to reduce pollutants entering the main stem of the St. Johns River and several tributaries, including Hogan Creek. Development of a Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) is underway now. Funding for this project is forecast in the proposed 2006-2011 Capital Improvement Plan. We are currently grading proposals form consultants to provide professional service associated with this work including, updating the master stormwater management plan, updating the flood insurance rate maps, and performing water quality modeling to identify cost effective solutions to meet our TMDL (pollutant reduction) allocation for urban stormwater runoff entering the St. Johns River.

River Accord: Recently, the mayor, together with partners who will invest in the future health of the river, announced the formation of the River Accord, a 10-year, $700 million program to begin restoring the health of the Lower St. Johns River Basin. Details can be found at:

A project to address the specific cleanup issues throughout the reaches of Hogan Creek, or any other similarly contaminated creek, is not underway. However, through our current NPDES permit activities, we are aggressively identifying and causing removal of point sources of pollution entering our drainage system and ultimately the St. Johns River and its tributaries. The City committed over $75 million of BJP funding for phasing out failed septic tanks throughout the city. JEA is also executing an aggressive program to rehabilitate aging sewer lines.

I have since replied to Mr Hall stating to following:

Thank you Mr Hall,

Its good to hear so many different items are being looked at. I still think that downtown and Historic Springfield would benefit from a master plan for the creek and its parks. Yes, it may only be one small creek, but its one small creek in the middle of an area that is in the throws of revitalization, and just a few blocks from city hall. Its also the single largest parcel of developed parkland downtown (37+ acres not including undeveloped land) and Jacksonvilles best opportunity for an urban central park-like system.

My first question would be about the Army Corp plan. Just to clarify, are you saying that the city will be cleaning up industrial waste along with the Army Corps plan? I have met with the Army Corp, and while their plan is a good one it does not address industrial contamination.

Furthermore, neither their plan, nor any of the info you just provided addresses the land surrounding the creek.

In some cases you have a site like Confederate Park thats already being addressed by the city and FDEP. IFor other sites, like Kluhto Park, there is no plan, and to my knowledge, no known study to determine the best path to remediating the area.

While I think that examining the aquatic health of the creek is important, I think it is secondary to cleaning up the industrial contaminants both in the creek and nearby land.

As to the flooding, can we look at excavating the Hogans Creek ponds at 4th and Pearl and 5th and Broad? At the very least, can we start to examine what those ponds were filled in with?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Lets get comprehensive

The following is a letter sent in reply to Brad Thoburn of the Mayors office. I sent it to most of the citys mayoral staff, Parks and Rec leadership, Environmental clean up managers, and involved citizens... The links were added later for your pleasure.

Good evening everyone,

I wanted to follow up from my previous email.

I think the thing that needs to be done first and foremost is to develop a comprehensive plan for Hogans Creek.

My point in all of this is, The Army Core of Engineers plan has been billed by the city as being some sort of fix all. I think that we all know it is not. Aquatic re-nourishment MIGHT help the bacterial issue, but it doesnt solve any of the other issues we have, nor does it make the parks along the creek useful again to the citizens of Downtown Jacksonville and Historic Springfield.

I want to stress, when I say comprehensive plan, "clean it up" simply wont work. I feel we need to identify sites that are contaminated or possibly contaminated and work towards clean up plans. This means addressing both industrial, and bacterial problems and identifying how it can be addressed. Let’s see if we can get JEA to find leaking sewer lines, or failed septic tanks that are contributing to bacterial problems.

We also need to identify both short and long term goals, and see where existing concepts and unfunded mandates like the aquatic re-nourishment plan, fit into the overall plan.

A good short term goal might be to wrap up the clean-up in Confederate Park. It seems to be one of the best understood sites of industrial waste along the creek.

A good long term goal would be to complete architectural restoration to Kluthos remaining architecture. Perhaps lighting the Greenway, or including workout stations along a fully extended Greenway that runs from the River to Shands. I think the plan should include everything from the serious environmental issues to the mundane items like playground structures.
I also think that the comprehensive plan needs to include the entire length of the creek. Let’s talk about some good goals for the entire creek. What do we need to look at for flood control? Re-establishing the upper and lower ponds? Maybe establish more down stream parkland and ponds near the Stadium complex? Maybe reinstall flood gates like Klutho did?

The Mayor has talked about wanting to green up downtown. Why cant we make an effort to green up existing park land in downtown, land that could potentially become a central park type system to a thriving downtown, before we talk about towing under parking lots and planting trees on Main St?

Simply building a comprehensive plan shouldn't cost much money, and would give both the city and the community of Downtown and Historic Springfield a list of actionable items. Once the list of goals are created, then all interested parties can seek funding, be it though bond money, grant money, federal and state money, or even donations.

I look forward to hearing from you all on these thoughts.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Will wetlands fix industrial waste? Nope!

Upon my post two days ago, I sent emails to Rich Rachal, the director of environmental clean-up for FDEP, north east division. The Mayors Office, including Brad Thoburn, Susie Wiles, John Peyton, and Chris Pearson.

Mr. Pearson is the director of environmental clean up at the Duval County Solid Waste Division, and in the past has been very difficult to get a hold oh. He is also the person who keeps telling the community that we cant put in things like irrigation or playgrounds in our parks.

Within a half an hour Brad Thoburn replied that there is progress, refering to the Hogan's Creek Greenway (Again, a sidewalk, not a cleanup plan), followed quickly by a reply from Chris Pearson.

I have asked Chris Pearson to attend the Sept. SPAR roundtable meeting, and he agreed to look at his calendar, but has so far not committed.

the next day I got a call from Daniel Cronrath with COJ. He has been tasked with finding funding sources to push ahead the ACoE plan for aquatic renourishment. I replied to him and the rest of the city players, via email, with my thoughts on the plan.

Thank you for your time on the phone yesterday. It was truly a pleasure.

Based on our conversation, I want to go on the record as being against starting the Aquatic Renourishment as its has been proposed by the Army Corp of Engineers, until such time as the city/state/feds clean up all industrial contamination in the Hogans Creek Basin including a plan for cleaning up the parks contamination.

The biggest problem facing the creek and the connecting park system is the fact that we have oil, ash, and other industrial waste sites along the creek. Removing Hydrilla weed and restoring the creeks "aquatic health" will only address the issue with the elevated fecal coloforms, not items like the current levels of nickel, cadmium, lead, manganese, and other known industrial pollutants. Otherwise, the tax-payer would just be paying to make it a prettier superfund site.

The DEP and city have already been working on a plan for the remediation of the former coal gasification site and Confederate Park. This is a great first step.

Next we need to get action on the 6th St Ash site in Schell Park, as well as identify other source contamination sites. The old Auto body at Laura St/Hogans Creek, the old Lower Pond site at 4th and Pearl, areas near the Maxwell plant are all good places to get some soil testing done to see what sorts of problems we have.

At such time as there is a plan to address industrial waste in both the creek, and the parks, THEN we should look at improving the overall health of the creek with the rebuilding of wetlands, ponds, and transplant of native plants and fish, as well as the architectural restoration/preservation of the remaining Klutho architecture.

Thank you all for your time!

One note, I have learned that its going to cost roughly $11 Million dollars to clean up the oil contamination around Confederate Park, stemming from the former Coal Gasification plan on the grounds of the Park View Inn.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Give Me your Money!

Photo Courtesy of

Ok, here is the deal.

In my efforts in the parks in the past year or so, one thing has become clear. Nobody seems to have a cumulative plan for the environmental clean up of Hogan's Creek or its parks.

The Army Corp has a plan for "aquatic re-nourishment" of the creek. This is not an environmental clean up, as much as a "make the creek healthier". It doesn't clean up the parks that apparently aren't safe enough to put a playground in.

The State and the City are going to be laying a 12' wide sidewalk from Liberty St to 8th St, and are calling it a greenway, but it doesn't clean up the parks.

Neighborhood heroes like Jennifer Holbrook and Chris Farley are working diligently to bring people back to the parks, but we cant get the city to give us approval to install a sprinkler system to plant grass for a soccer field.

Looking back over the last year of writing on this blog, we have made some progress on a series of smaller items through the parks. Cement pole, ugly buildings, and painted bridges are all important parts of a bigger picture, but at the end of the day the thousand pound gorilla is the environmental issues surrounding the parks.

I am going to start documenting the efforts to get someone, somewhere to do something with this problem we have in our parks. I will be working on getting meetings with the decision makers like the Mayors Office, Congresswoman's Office, and anyone one else I can think of that might help us get this problem moved forward. The environmentalists at the DEP, EPA, ACoE, and DCHD all agree we have a problem. Now we need some money to fix that problem.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Park Happenings

Flying a kite in Klutho Park

It occurred to me that I haven’t posted in a rather long time. I know most of those of you who have read this thing probably have stopped reading by now, but screw it. I’m gonna post some current news on the parks anyway.

Chris Farley and the Springfield Woman’s Club have been extremely busy this spring. They have a whole host of events lined up. They are calling it Magnificent Obsession, and are hosting several events in the parks in the coming months. Chris is also thrilled to report that the Klutho Park fountain is getting ready to break ground. She is still taking last minute brick orders to help cover the cost of the fountain, which is somewhere over $100K. If you would like an engraved brick, you can contact her at

Lynn Gilley of the Springfield Woman’s club recently applied for, and won a grant from Comcast to replace the seating at the Klutho Park ballfield. It is also rumored that there is some money set aside to put clay on the field. As a person who has played at the field several times, they will be welcomed improvements.

Speaking of the ballfield, the annual Springfield East vs. West Memorial Day softball tourney was a lot of fun. Due to a poor turn out from the Eastside, however, the Westside had to send a few Westside players over to their team. As a result, the Westside was soundly beat three times. There will be a rematch on July 4th at 10am in Klutho park, and this time, rumor has it that Westside wont be giving up some of it biggest bats.

The Klutho Park Bandstand is well underway. The contract is 180 days long, so hopefully work will be done by September. The construction won’t address the bathrooms or storage rooms in the band stand, but the rest of the structure will be sound once again.

Lastly, Parks and Recreation is feeling the neighborhood out about the possibility of moving the recently installed playground in Schell Park (On Boulevard) over to Klutho Park. I think that it’s a great idea, particularly in light of the fact that the current location wont be open any time soon due to contamination. I have heard from one member of the Springfield community who doesn’t like the idea, but personally, I think if the play equipment is put in near the ballfield, it would be a real asset to the park and its usability. If you have any thoughts on it, please email me at

Friday, March 03, 2006

ACoE Hogans Creek Fact Sheet

Conferderate Park Footbridge, courtesy of

CESAJ-DP (Cong) January 2006


Hogans Creek Restoration, FL (206)

Construction General (CG)

Congressional District: 3


Hogans Creek sub-basin contains 36 hydrologic units and 1 channel reach. It drains 3.1 square miles, is 1.7 miles long and has 11 major roadway crossings. The creek discharges into the St. Johns River (a designated American Heritage River). The project will improve the natural flow of the creek and create wetland areas in the creek’s basin. This restoration project will restore fish and wildlife habitat, and improve water quality by creating a greenway along the creek’s corridor. An increase in aquatic vegetation is expected, which would produce a food source and habitat for fish and wildlife within the Hogans Creek ecosystem. Section 206, of the 1996 Water Resources Development Act, authorizes this study.


      Estimated Total Cost

      $ 5,155,000

      Estimated Federal Cost


      Allocation thru FY05


Project is Section 206 Continuing Authorities Program project.


City of Jacksonville

117 West Duval Street

Jacksonville, Florida 32202


FY 2004 CAP 206 funds were suspended. FY 2005 and FY 2006 funding not included in CAP Program. The Preliminary Restoration Plan (PRP) was completed in FY 2002. The Environmental Restoration Report (ERR) completion and initiation of design Plans and Specifications will be rescheduled when funding becomes available. The ERR will form the basis for Congressional authorization.