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Maritime Museum looking to expand


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Just a letter from the editor, but I found it to be pretty interesting


Letters from readers


Larger building is needed

Jacksonville boasts our country's largest park system. Yet, the city laments a lack of attractions.

It seems unaware that it could readily have a fine, large maritime museum on its downtown waterfront, as do many other seaports, with little or no expense to the taxpayers.

The existing Jacksonville Maritime Museum is a non-profit, volunteer organization presently located in a small building it leases at the fountain in Friendship Park.

It has been in operation for 20 years, presenting free high-quality maritime displays, although severely hampered by an acute lack of space. The many artifacts it now possesses, which must be kept in remote storage, could fill a far larger facility, which the museum is now in a financial position to build.

The museum is not asking the city for money. On Feb. 24, the museum proposed that the city lease to it a piece of riverfront parkland on which it would, at its own expense, build and operate an appropriate museum building.

The nominal lease would expire in 99 years when the land and the museum building would revert to the city. To date, the city has not responded, or even acknowledged, the proposal.

The designated parkland of the former JEA tract, with its existing large deep draft berth for visiting ships is ideally suitable.

This is a win-win deal for the city, the Jacksonville Maritime Museum and the taxpayers. Why is the city government ignoring the proposal?

DAVID SWAN, Jacksonville


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Larger facility is needed

I agree wholedheartedly with a letter writer regarding the need for a larger maritime museum downtown, but he is beating a dead horse.

When I was president of the Jacksonville Ship Modeler's Society, the Maritime Museum Society granted use of the Southbank Riverwalk location to hold our monthly meetings.

From the very onset, the building was a disaster. The water curtain feature applied to the existing structure of the museum caused leaks to the building. The building was way too small to house all of the models and maritime artifacts that were being donated to the museum.

As the Ship Modeler's Society grew with the museum, we were forced to find other places to meet because we were too cramped for space.

The museum had space on the Northbank inside The Jacksonville Landing, also.

The concept, at first, was ideal. Later, it proved to be a fruitless attempt, as the museum exhibits were being shuttled about the Landing because vendors vied for the storefront space. The museum was then told to leave the Landing. I remember moving exhibits at least three times while at the Landing. Each time, something was destroyed.

I would love to see a larger maritime museum downtown. But let's be real about this! Look at the past efforts that were torpedoed by the City Council.

Remember the USS Saratoga? It would have made a fantastic museum downtown. Local radio stations and businesses rallied to the cause to save the ship, but they were defeated by the City Council.

Also, there was talk of the possibility of using a portion of the downtown library to house the maritime museum; again, that was dismissed.

This city has a rich and wonderful maritime history that needs to be shared with people.

As long as the City Council finds a way to our back pockets and picks our wallets clean on worthless efforts, a new and bigger maritime museum is just a dream.

FRANK RYCZEK, retired, Jacksonville


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