Jacksonville, FL (March 10, 2018)
To the Residents of Hampton Park,
Yesterday, a neighbor of your community experienced a horrific event, a total loss of their home due to a fire. While we are thankful the family is safe, this tragic event does rekindle the issue of having fire and rescue services available nearby.
Months ago, the city presented an option in which it became contentious among residents, some in favor, some not due to its location. It was my conclusion based on “many” factors, that this was not an ideal location but would only work if all else failed. Since that decision, I along with the Mayor’s office have worked diligently on finding that right location. Many meetings over this period of time have been held with every property owner in the area. Our very first ideal site which we had hoped to purchase, was available, then not available, then was optimistically available again, and unfortunately, recently was sold to someone else during this prolonged process. To say it’s been challenging to purchase a site would be a major understatement.
As the saying goes, wait 24 hours and the world perspective can change has come to fruition. Just within the past two weeks, multiple site options have now come into play based on the many meeting and countless hours of discussion with property owners. The options now before us, a couple are within the ideal site parameters that we are looking for: 1) outreach to current and future needs of the area, 2) access to major roadways, 3) property size, 4) land-use and 5) immediately available for development.
While today, I am not prepared to announce the finalization of one of these options, I feel it is important that the residents of Hampton Park know this issue has been and continues to be of the highest priority to me and the Mayor’s administration. In the 2017 – 2018 budget, money has already been appropriated to fund a new station. Within that same budget, money has also been provided to fund a temporary station while the new station is being built. If we started today, it is anticipated to take approximately two years for a new station to be completed. Knowing that, alternative plans are to have a temporary station provided while the new station is being built. Also, already implemented now are additional resources at Station 44 (Western Way / Baymeadows) which is the extra man power and equipment destined for the future new fire Station #63. It was those fire fighters and equipment that were the first to respond and on-site within 8 minutes of the call!
Having been on-site during this event yesterday, my observation and interaction with neighboring residents and the homeowner was certainly tragic, the work and the response of our first responders of JFRD was truly impressive. There were responses from at least 5 area stations and resources committed that contained this fire with no noticeable further damage to adjacent properties. For me, it was important that residents that witness this event know that the quick response was no accident and that we have and are working for your community and others to have plans in place for any events of this nature now and in the future.
In closing, in the next few weeks, I look forward to announcing the welcoming news we all desire and providing the relief such news will have on the resident of Hampton Park and the surrounding communities.
Jacksonville City Council Member, District 11
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