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Disposition of Old Fuller Warren

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The Florida Department of Transportation invites

you to attend a Public Information Meeting to

discuss the proposed disposition plan for the Old

Fuller Warren Bridge. This meeting will be

Thursday, January 6, 2005, at the Florida

Department of Transportation's Training Center,

2250 Irene Street (corner of I-10 and Stockton

Street), Jacksonville.

Beginning at 5:00 p.m., FDOT personnel with maps,

drawings, and other pertinent information will be

available to discuss the proposed project and to

answer questions. At 6:00 p.m., the Department

will give a brief presentation followed by a

public comment period.

The purpose of the meeting is to present and

discuss the Department's options for the

disposition of the Old Fuller Warren Bridge in

Jacksonville and to receive public input. At this

time the Department is preparing plans for the

demolition and removal of the old bridge.

Your attendance at this Public Meeting is

encouraged, and any comments made are appreciated.

If you have any questions or comments please do

not hesitate to contact:

Jim Knight, P.E. Project

Manager

Florida Department of

Transportation

1109 S. Marion Avenue, MS

2002

Lake City, FL 32025-5874

(386) 961-7707 or

1-800-749-2967

Email:

[email protected]

Gina Busscher

Public Information Office

Florida Department of Transportation

District Two

1109 South Marion Avenue

Lake City, FL 32025-5874

386-758-3714 or Suncom 881-3714

[email protected]

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Some commentary on the fate of the Fuller Warren...

------------------------------------

Downtown Vision, Inc., invited Chan Krieger & Associates to Jacksonville to make suggestions on how to improve the city's relationship to our magnificent river.

Krieger then whipped up a little report worth reading for anyone in love with our city and our downtown and our river.

His little report is entitled, "Jacksonville and the St. Johns River, First Impressions and Initial Recommendations."

I endorse the report. Makes sense to me. In fact the entire report seems quite common-sensical. The report is full of practical ideas about creating more value for Jacksonville in our downtown riverfront.

Anyone involved in making decisions which affect Jacksonville, our downtown, and our downtown riverfront...needs to read the report and chew on it a little bit.

Just one item in the report, just one, is the report's declaration that..."it would be a shame to completely dismantle the remnants of the old Fuller Warren Bridge...."

This poor dear old bridge!

Saving what remains of the old Fuller Warren has become more difficult than anyone from any other U.S. river city can imagine. Everyone from all other river cities agrees that if they had the chance to do it in their city, then they would save what remains of the old Fuller Warren for a pedestrian promenade.

This poor bridge narrowly escaped death and destruction last summer when the Mayor tried to blow it to smithereens, one of the most absurd fates ever to befall a structure like this.

First, the Mayor said he was going to get the DOT to blow it up. Then he said he never said that. Then he told the DOT, again, to please blow it up. Then he changed his mind, again, due to huge public outcry. But, hey, folks, I need some help on this thing. Who knows when Peyton might change his mind on this issue one more time...for the fourth or fifth or maybe sixth time?!

Saving this old bridge and converting it into some kind of logical recreational purpose has the support of many people, including Republican Senate President Jim King and Democratic Party Congresswoman Corrine Brown.

Saving this old bridge is recommended and endorsed by the Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County, Inc., by the Riverkeeper organization, and by the Greater Arlington Civic Council.

Unfortunately, the folks who are hell-bent on destroying this old bridge have been engaging in some less than honest claims. These people claim that "studies" show we need to tear it down. "Studies!" What studies?!

It appears to me that the only "study" at all is this analysis of our downtown, done for our Downtown Vision organization, which says it would be shame to dismantle the old bridge.

Saving this old bridge is cheap. Very cheap. All we need is a little money for some railing and some lights and some benches.

Public support for saving this bridge is massive, estimated by some to be in the range of 80--90% of local voters. Last summer...when I sought to collect some signatures on petitions on this matter...I found thousands of folks who wanted to save the old bridge...while bumping into nobody who wanted to tear it down.

Environmentally...it makes sense to save the bridge. Any form of tearing it down and removing it will involve resuspending all kinds of toxins into the water column. There is no plan for destruction of the bridge so sound environmentally as saving the bridge in place.

Economically...it makes sense to save the bridge. There is no other way in the world for our city to create something with so much recreational value for so little money.

The bridge makes accessible the river. Who in the world is the DOT or the Council or the Mayor to attempt to deprive Jacksonville folks of river access? We want to get out and see the river, walk over the river, smell the river, hear the river. Why can't I put my mother in wheelchair and push her out on that old bridge to take in the sights? What public purpose is there is denying me the possibility of taking mom out to smell and watch the river?

Save this old bridge!.

It makes no sense NOT to save this old bridge..

Even now, if the Mayor and the Council would quit lolly-gagging around, we could install rails and benches and lights...in time for the Super Bowl. Oh, I know. It appears unlikely that the Mayor and Council will act any time soon, but, IF THEY WANTED TO DO IT, it is entirely possible that this bridge could be opened up for public use by Super Bowl day. This possibility will probably be lost within the next one or two weeks. But as of this moment, it could still be done, IF THEY WANTED TO DO IT.

I would like to ask Jacksonville voters to try to figure out why it is, how it is, that the Mayor and the Council fail to see the opporunity. The rest of us see it. What is there about being Mayor or on the Council which seems to prevent this handful of people from seeing what all the rest of us can see?!

I would like to recommend that voters should talk openly about opportunities to get rid of some of these politicians who are so stiff-necked.

Guess what? I just bet that as soon as I have now said it, we will discover that all of the current silly politicians who now run for promotions in the upcoming special elections will suddenly repent, within a few days, just a few days, and get on board. What do you suppose?

I say: vote against all politicians in the upcoming special elections who have been on record against saving the old Fuller Warren Bridge.

Those of us pushing this reasonable little idea have been pretty polite about it. But the Mayor and the Council have kicked us in the teeth, laughed at us, ridiculed us.

So, OK, let's make it a front-burner issue.

Let's turn the special election into a referendum on this old bridge and on common sense.

Sincerely,

Andy Johnson

former member, Florida House

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Wow, it does seem like common snese to save the bridge. Or at least save a part of it. I would like to see the park underneath the new bridge; the park that was promised to us a few years back. Last I checked, they had paved the ground underneath the bridge. A new park, plus a spruced up bridge/pier would be nice. Though it's not the most attractive thing, it's still neat to look at the old bridge and see "what was".

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DOT has new plan to demolish bridge

By DAVID BAUERLEIN

The Times-Union

The fate of the old Fuller Warren Bridge in downtown Jacksonville will be up for debate Jan. 6 when a new plan for removing the partly demolished span is discussed at a public meeting.

Except for cutting down the metal drawbridge, demolition has been at a standstill since February 2002 because the contractor was dumping tons of concrete rubble into the St. Johns River without a permit to use the river as a disposal site.

The state Department of Transportation withdrew a proposal in July to dispose of all concrete rubble from the bridge in the river after criticism from environmentalists and elected officials.

In the latest plan, DOT would position barges to catch rubble as crews chip away concrete, "realizing that we can't catch everything," said Jim Knight, project manager. The barges would take debris to shore. The state has not determined what it will cost to resume demolition.

Some people want to keep the bridge and make it a pedestrian promenade.

"If they're going to end up removing it, let's make sure they do it in the most environmentally responsible way possible," said Jimmy Orth, executive director of St. Johns Riverkeeper, a non-profit group. "But let's at least look at using it as a promenade. There's always a need for more access to the river."

"You've just got to walk out there," local talk-show host Andy Johnson, a former state legislator, said of the view from the bridge. "It's the most religious experience."

If the DOT's new approach wins support from the St. Johns River Water Management District and Army Corps of Engineers, demolition could resume in the summer, Knight said.

He said 15 of the bridge piers would be removed intact with equipment that vibrates the pilings and pulls them out of the river bottom. Ten other piers would be chipped into pieces for the portion above the waterline, with barges again positioned to catch the debris.

In December 2005, when manatees have gone south for the winter, the state would use explosives to blow up the underwater parts of the piers. Explosives also would take down the two biggest piers that hold up the drawbridge. After the detonation, equipment would scoop debris from the river bottom.

In places where environmental testing found contamination in the river bottom, the state will use large plastic sheets with weights on the bottom to "curtain" off those areas and prevent the contamination from spreading when removal of piers stirs up the river bottom, said Terry Zinn, an attorney for the Transportation Department.

St. Johns Riverkeeper Neil Armingeon said he's reviewing the state's report on the contamination and doesn't consider it "in any way an end-all, be-all study."

The Jan. 6 meeting is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. with an informal question-and-answer session, followed by a presentation at 6 p.m. and comment period at a microphone. The meeting will be at DOT's Jacksonville office, 2250 Irene St.

david.bauerleinjacksonville.com, (904) 359-4581

This story can be found on Jacksonville.com at http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stor..._17469542.shtml.

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Does anyone know why DOT and the Mayor is so hell bent on tearing down all of the old bridge? Is it structurally unsound? The idea of making, the lower eastern half, a public pier and connecting it to the southbank riverwalk, sounds pretty good, considering the structure is already there. Saving a portion of it, adding fresh asphalt, benches, rails & decorative lights would most likely be a lot cheaper than destroying it also.

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Rumor has it that Baptist Hospital wants the parking that is near there and if that structure was made public then they would have to give up that parking. Maybe someone at Baptist has the mayor's ear. Like I said, it's a rumor and I have not checked the validity.

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This doesn't make sense. I'm not an environmental person, but what harm could keeping the bridge possibly do. I can't believe that it is unstable (remember, this thing carried a ton of vehicles every day). So why is the DOT so bent on tearing it down. Frankly, I think Peyton needs to stop playing politician (he's not very good at it), and take a stand to save this thing. How many people can possibly be that against saving it.

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To destroy the rest of this structure would be another one of the dumbest things this city has ever done.I have only heard words to save the bridge from the citizens of Jax. but the mayor,council and other powers that be seem to think the best thing to do is get rid of it.I will be there on the 6th hopefully to gather info and speak against this demolition.I can only see benefits for keeping the structure intact.Am I wrong?Someone tell me why.Spending milions & millions of dollars to get rid of something that most cities would love to have just seems senseless.

I can just see it now,10 or 15 years from now,somebody will come along with a great idea to build a pier into the St. Johns downtown.Then the powers will say brilliant,here's millions & millions of dollars to do it.It's just tax dollars. :thumbsup:

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Charleston put a pier in it's Riverfront Park when it opened several years back. It is T-shaped and very popular. I'll see if I can find some info on it. Southern Living did an article on the park (when it opened) and the pier was very promenient in the photos.

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T/U today

Just another reason to keep the span intact. -_-

State seeks input on razing rest of bridge

Work on the old Fuller Warren would be done by firm accused of harming the environment.

By DAVID BAUERLEIN

The Times-Union

As the Florida Department of Transportation attempts to finish demolishing the old Fuller Warren Bridge in the coming year, the state retains confidence in the company it hired. The company is being investigated for doing work in rivers without environmental permits in Jacksonville and North Carolina.

The Transportation Department will conduct a public meeting next week on a new demolition plan using barges to collect rubble for disposal ashore.

The state intends to bring back Balfour-Beatty, the construction company whose disposal of rubble in the St. Johns River triggered a federal investigation, to finish tearing down the bridge, department spokesman Mike Goldman said. That's pending regulatory approval for the proposed demolition.

In October, a Balfour-Beatty project manager pleaded guilty in a North Carolina federal courtroom after the company dug a 600-foot-long trench for a bridge project without obtaining environmental permits, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Raleigh, N.C.

Balfour-Beatty as a company and two lower-level employees also entered guilty pleas in May, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The prosecution of Balfour-Beatty in North Carolina is separate from the investigation regarding the Fuller Warren Bridge demolition. The Jacksonville case has not resulted in any indictments or pleas.

Al Moyle, resident engineer in the Jacksonville office of the Transportation Department, said Balfour-Beatty is still under contract to demolish the bridge and is capable of doing the work.

"The answer to that is yes, I have confidence that they have the resources and the ability to comply with permits for the balance of the demolition," he said. "It is certainly our intent -- the department's intent -- to enforce compliance."

St. Johns Riverkeeper Neil Armingeon, whose organization promotes the river as a natural asset, said Balfour-Beatty's track record "doesn't give me a great deal of confidence."

"It shows me the company needs to be watched if they're going to demolish the bridge," he said. "They need a lot more supervision than what DOT provided the first time around."

The new $101 million Fuller Warren Bridge fully opened to traffic in December 2002. But most demolition of the old bridge stopped in January 2002 when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Criminal Enforcement Division opened an investigation.

The state Transportation Department should have obtained a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit for dumping tons of pulverized debris into the river, and Balfour-Beatty should have ensured there was a permit before proceeding, federal regulators have said.

After demolition stopped on the Fuller Warren Bridge, Balfour-Beatty faced another EPA investigation in North Carolina stemming from construction of the Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge. To remove construction equipment from the water in October 2002, the company used the backwash from tugboat propellers to dig a trench, according to a U.S. attorney statement about the case. There was no permit allowing the work, which was was done at night to avoid detection, the statement said.

Balfour-Beatty spokesman Bill Hightower said the company was "extremely disappointed in the conduct of a few employees" and "we accept full responsibility" for what happened.

He said to avoid a repeat of such an incident, the company hired a senior executive responsible for "corporatewide" adherence to environmental regulations. The company also will participate in an EPA compliance program and set up a five-year schedule for training employees in environmental standards.

Balfour-Beatty published apologies in two North Carolina newspapers and paid the North Carolina Department of Transportation's cost for mitigating the harm to Croatan Sound.

Michael Hillyer, the Balfour-Beatty project manager who pleaded guilty in October, has not been sentenced yet. He faces up to four years in prison and a maximum fine of $500,000.

Hightower said all the employees who were involved in the illegal dredging have either been fired or no longer work for Balfour-Beatty.

The public meeting is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. Thursday with an informal question-and-answer session, followed by a presentation at 6. and comment period at a microphone. The meeting will be at the DOT's Jacksonville office at 2250 Irene St.

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I'm sending an email to the Mayor ,Council Members & Fl. legislaters later this afternoon.Can anyone add anything? I did not want to make it too long.

To Whom It May Concern:

This email is sent to you because we need your help and your support. The remainder of the old Fuller Warren Bridge could very well become one of the best assets to downtown much like the riverwalks will be when completed. All it needs is some vision on your part, the Mayor and your fellow council members. The monies that will be spent on the destruction could better be spent on it

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Sorry for the double-post but look here! Ron Littlepage, who's an avid water/recreation devotee, seems to agree with us:

New pier, riverwalk a start; now, the old Fuller Warren

While I was on vacation . . .

The new Jacksonville Beach Pier finally opened.

Wow!

Now it certainly helped that when I took my first look-see on Sunday, the sky was a deep blue and the temperature was approaching 80 -- not bad for the second day of January.

But the pier itself, stretching about a quarter of a mile into the Atlantic Ocean, is quite an attraction, and not just for anglers.

On Sunday, hundreds of people of all sizes, shapes, hues and economic status strolled the length of the pier and back, taking in the view, watching the fishermen, the surfers and the waves roll in.

We could have something similar in downtown Jacksonville, on the St. Johns River, by saving what remains of the old Fuller Warren Bridge.

People who haven't been able to grasp what such a promenade could mean for downtown, and the positive interaction that comes with such a gathering place, need only visit Jacksonville Beach.

Wow!

Also while I was on vacation, the switch was officially thrown on the new decorative lighting that has been added to the Fuller Warren, Hart and Main Street bridges, adding a lot more sparkle to our downtown riverfront.

Some have complained about the $3 million price tag to have the three bridges join the already lighted Acosta Bridge, but in my book, the pizazz the lighting adds to our skyline is well worth the cost.

Hmmm. Just imagine being able to enjoy the view from a promenade that reaches into the St. Johns and provides a panorama of downtown.

Hey, what about saving the old Fuller Warren Bridge?

During the past two weeks, there also has been a lot of progress on the Northbank riverwalk, which eventually will stretch from Metropolitan Park to the Fuller Warren Bridge.

It's been a long time coming, but it's looking great and I'm betting that when additional stretches are completed in the next few weeks, the riverwalk will be a huge hit.

For many years, downtown Jacksonville turned its back to the river, building parking lots on its banks and treating it like a sewer.

That has changed. The river has been cleaned and it's now celebrated as it should be.

The new Jacksonville Beach Pier. Riverwalks on both the Northbank and Southbank. The lighted bridges.

Jacksonville will be looking good for our Super Bowl visitors next month, especially if we can get some of those bluebird days that Sunday was come Super Bowl week.

But more importantly, it will be looking good for those of us who live here and have pride in what Jacksonville is becoming. It will look good long after the Super Bowl guests have gone home.

It would look even better, however, if the old Fuller Warren Bridge was turned into a promenade instead of being dismantled and blown up as is now planned.

Once lost, the opportunity won't come again.

ron.littlepagejacksonville.com, (904) 359-4284

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T-U Editorial today...

DOWNTOWN: Take another look

Is what's left of the old Fuller Warren Bridge worth saving as a downtown promenade?

The oft-asked question should be revisited one last time before it's too late.

The remaining portion of the old bridge juts out from the south bank of the St. Johns River near the new Fuller Warren. The state Department of Transportation is hosting a public hearing today on the best way to tear it down and remove the debris.

There's still time to re-evaluate the span's fate. But a DOT spokesman said any move to change the thinking would have to come from the city of Jacksonville.

Former Mayor John Delaney -- fueled in part by a task force recommendation to bypass the old bridge as a promenade or fishing pier -- concluded it wasn't feasible to save.

But the new bridge has been finished since then, the demolition has run into snags and Jacksonville has a new mayor in John Peyton.

Why not a fresh look by Peyton?

In the best of worlds, the spruced-up old bridge could provide more public riverfront access for anglers and others who just want to enjoy spectacular views of downtown Jacksonville, especially at night.

Throw in benches, lights, landscaping, a bait shop and maybe some restrooms, and some see the spot becoming a favorite riverfront stop. The thousands of people who flocked to the new Jacksonville Beach Pier over the weekend testify to the drawing power of public waterfront facilities.

On the other hand, any effort to use the bridge as a pier would face complications.

There would have to be adequate parking, and DOT officials say the old bridge's proximity to the new one affects river currents and promotes erosion around the new bridge's pilings. That could require expensive remedies.

The city, not the state, would bear the costs of upgrading and maintaining the bridge.

Those and other factors prompt some to conclude the bridge isn't worth saving. Advocates say the obstacles can be overcome.

But one thing is sure: The chance to explore the possibility will soon be gone.

One thoughtful last look at the feasibility of using it -- with solid breakdowns on costs -- would be a public service.

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City to revisit bridge as river pier

By DAVID BAUERLEIN

The Times-Union

After seeing a huge crowd at the grand opening of the oceanfront pier at Jacksonville Beach, Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton will take a second look at turning the half-demolished Fuller Warren Bridge into a "river pier," his office said Thursday.

Peyton previously has supported finishing demolition of the old bridge, calling it a blight on the St. Johns River in downtown.

But when Peyton attended the Dec. 30 opening of the Jacksonville Beach pier, the "excitement and enthusiasm" caused him to reconsider his stance on the Fuller Warren Bridge, mayoral aide Susie Wiles said.

City Councilwoman Suzanne Jenkins said she supports Peyton's decision and thinks public opinion has shifted in favor of keeping the bridge since City Hall studied the possibility in 2000.

"Let's really do a comprehensive study from the ground up," Jenkins said. "I think the timing is right to do that now. It's never a done deal until it's torn down and it's gone."

Peyton directed his staff to review keeping the bridge on the same day the state Department of Transportation conducted a public hearing for its plan to resume demolition this year.

DOT spokesman Mike Goldman said the department estimates it would cost $5 million to $10 million to turn the bridge into a pedestrian promenade. He said if the city comes down in favor of doing that, the cost for rehabilitating the bridge so it can stand the test of time would fall on City Hall.

At the public meeting in DOT's Jacksonville office, six people spoke in favor of keeping the bridge. They said it would give public access to the St. Johns River and offer a spectacular view of downtown. One speaker favored total demolition, saying the bridge is an aging structure and its location beside Interstate 95 is the wrong place for a pier.

In contrast to those strong positions for and against, Baptist Medical Center took a position in the middle.

The hospital, which is next to the bridge, is not adamantly opposed to having the bridge become a public park, said Andy Sikes, director of safety, security and parking. He said Baptist Medical Center could support the concept if the way to reach the pier were a Southbank Riverwalk. He said such a "passive park" would be a benefit for patients and their families at the medical center and Nemours Children's Clinic.

However, he said the medical center could not support a plan in which people could go to the park from Palm Avenue, the street nearest the old bridge. He said an entry point to the park at that location would add more cars to Palm Avenue and worsen the problem of moving traffic around the hospital.

"Traffic circulation for the hospital is critical for rescue vehicles and for patients and families coming to the hospital," he said after the meeting.

Most demolition of the bridge came to a halt three years ago after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Criminal Enforcement Division began an investigation because the contractor was dumping tons of rubble into the St. Johns River when there was no permit allowing the disposal. About half the bridge has been taken down so far.

The state's new plan would use barges to catch falling chunks of concrete and then take the debris to shore for disposal. To take down the bigger concrete supports, the state would use explosives to blow them up and then scoop the debris from the river bottom.

Even if the portion of the bridge that juts from the river's south bank were saved, the state would still need to demolish the northern half of the old bridge where the concrete deck is gone but the concrete supports are still standing, Goldman said.

Wiles said Peyton isn't asking the state to stop moving ahead on its plan to demolish the bridge. She said the city's study will re-examine the feasibility of using the bridge and it won't be a drawn-out assessment.

"If it were determined that a river pier would be a good idea, is that the place you would do it, or would you do it someplace else in another way?" she said.

In 2000, a city task force recommended against using the old bridge as a fishing pier. The report cited concerns about the financial cost, parking availability, and downtown's image.

Then-Mayor John Delaney agreed with the report's finding, and until this week, Peyton had taken the same position.

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Seems like common sense is finally starting to prevail. I am also VERY happy to hear that Baptist is pressuring them for a no on-site parking situation. I never quite understood why so many people (on both sides of the bridge issue) always assumed that a pier required a freaking on-site parking lot. I know this is Jacksonville and all, but such a mentality is quite pathetic sometimes. (And who wants to bet that the DOT's project cost estimation includes the construction of a landscaped parking lot underneath I-95?)

As an aside ... I remember sitting in a city council meeting about 2 years ago, and some guy used his 3 minutes to yell at the council about saving the bridge. One got the impression he did that at EVERY city council meeting, as a few council members were openly hostile to him. People in the audience were joking about how crazy he was. That guy must be so happy right now.

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I know who you are talking about, and yes, he was at almost every council meeting, and said pretty much the same thing every meeting. The old bridge isn't saved yet, but if the pier thing goes through, you can credit him for being one of the main advocates for this.

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I know who you are talking about, and yes, he was at almost every council meeting, and said pretty much the same thing every meeting.  The old bridge isn't saved yet, but if the pier thing goes through, you can credit him for being one of the main advocates for this.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

First let me say that I've never been to a Jax City Council meeting and I don't know who this individual is, or what specifically they said. While you have to give credit to this individual for his insight and "vision", he probably hurt the cause more than helped it. When dealing with public officials (and employees) you must guard what you do and say. Angry, beligerent behavior will quickly get you dismissed as a gadfly or worse. I have seen very intelligent people with very useful input be basically ignored because they don't treat public workers or officials with respect and with a spirit of cooperation.

It is always best to clearly state your position and support it with logic-based facts and avoid emotional tirades. Also, NEVER use threats. Additionally, don't preach to the same crowd more than once. They heard you the first time. If you feel compelled to speak to the same crowd a second time on the same subject, then bring NEW information or opinions.

I am not posting this to make a statement about this particular individual. Nor do I disagree with his position. I am just giving others my 'lessons learned' from my own experiences, both personally and observing others in similiar situations.

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