In August of 2017, two Jacksonville City Council members asked President Anna Brosche “to consider holding a workshop to facilitate public dialogue and further vetting of the dredging project.” Brosche declined the request, responding that “there is no funding request before the Jacksonville City Council for the harbor deepening project and there is no legislation before the Jacksonville City Council related to the harbor deepening project requiring a vote.”

Brosche went on to say that, “JAXPORT Interim CEO Eric Green has made the commitment to participate in public discussions regarding the harbor deepening project upon resolution of the current lawsuit, at which time I will evaluate all of the relevant circumstances and consider sponsoring or holding a public workshop.”

Current Council President Tommy Hazouri responded by saying, “I have continually called for a public hearing as I believe the ultimate cost of the dredging and the mitigation of the St. Johns River will be much greater than JAXPORT has publicly stated. For every reason the Council President has provided, I believe there are many more questions and reasons to support the need for a public forum….It is disrespectful to our citizens to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on such a massive project without having more definitive and clear-cut answers to the final cost of the dredging and impact it may have to our St. Johns River and waterways.” 

Now, the lawsuit is over, legislation and a funding request are currently before the Council, and mitigation does not exist to offset the damage from the dredging. The time has come for the City Council to commit to mitigation funding and finally hold a public workshop to fully evaluate the pros and cons of the dredging project.

Council members have expressed support for more mitigation the past. Now, we must demand action!

2019 City Council Candidate Q & A
Question: Experts say that dredging the St. Johns River could intensify storm surge, having significant impacts for flood zones throughout the city, including downtown. Do you support the dredging project even if it does not includes funding or either 1) a study to further explore this issue or 2) mitigation work to better protect these vulnerable areas?

Tommy Hazouri, At-Large Group 3 (Current Council President):
“Support, but have asked for the City Council to receive a quarterly monitoring report of the water quality as we must protect our river and have ample resources for mitigation if necessary.”

Ron Salem, At-Large Group 2:
“Supports dredging for the port but there needs to be money for mitigation.”

Scott Wilson, District 4:
“It is our obligation to study the impacts it will create for the St. Johns River and its tributaries. I support studying the issues and developing a plan to protect the vulnerable areas.”

Michael Boylan, District 6:
“The St. Johns River is a vital community asset that needs to be preserved and protected. It is in the best interest of all of our citizens for any plans that involve dredging to include a comprehensive analysis of its impact and a funding plan to support mitigation efforts should it be necessary.”

Reggie Gaffney, District 7:
“I do support dredging, but we need to make it safe. We know we need to clean up the river.”

Brenda Priestly Jackson, Council District 10:
“I support dredging because of the economic benefits with the express caveat that we have a defined mitigation fund to address resident’s needs as well as biz needs.”

2019 Candidate Questionnaires
Question: There currently are no funds set aside for mitigation. Should there be?

Terrance Freeman, At-Large Group 1:
“We should partner with the stakeholders, including the Army Corps of Engineers and the St. Johns River Keeper, to ensure that it is done safely, carefully, and with care to ensure that our river is kept beautiful for future generations.”

Ron Salem, At-Large Group 2:
“I do support the deepening of the St. John’s and am supportive of mitigation funds once identified.”

Matt Carlucci, At-Large Group 4:
“I am not convinced the mitigation currently contemplated by the Corps of Engineers is adequate to protect the St. Johns River and coastal waters. Getting mitigation for the dredge right is important for the long-term health of the St. Johns and to address the issue of sea level rise and flooding.”

Michael Boylan, District 6:
“A balance needs to be created….It would be financially supporting the dredging effort but with a concomitant commitment to both closely monitor the impact of such dredging on the whole ecosystem and to set aside funds to mitigate such damage going forward.”

Ju’Coby Pittman, District 8:
“Yes, there should be funds set aside.” 

Brenda Priestly Jackson, District 10:
“I support deepening or dredging of the St. John’s River with the express condition that a mitigation fund is established or funded with the local and federal efforts to finance the dredging.”

Randy DeFoor, District 14:
“Thus any ideas coming before City Council for financial support should be expected to pass a cost benefit analysis….Any environmental impacts should be addressed by mitigation which is routine in such matters. The river is our biggest resource: economically, socially, aesthetically and environmentally.”