The downtown Jacksonville parks set to get millions for improvements from Jags stadium deal

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The agreement between the city and the Jacksonville Jaguars to renovate EverBank Field is expected to bring about major upgrades to the surrounding area like the Eastside and riverfront parks.

The new lease agreement with the Jags that the city council could approve next week was supposed to have $300 million in it just for that. That money is known as the Community Benefit Agreement (CBA).

MORE: City Council to vote on breaking part of $300M Community Benefits Agreement out of Jags stadium deal

It’s more than likely most of that money, not all of it, will be pulled from the official lease agreement and taken up later this summer. What’s left, around $55 million, will go to parks and another facility, the Flex Field at the stadium.

Metropolitan Park is one area that is going to receive some of the funding and it’s a park that could really use some improvement. But people in the park on Wednesday said they wonder if it is really going to happen.

The specifics of the park improvement plan have not been released.

Some like James Taylor have doubts and he remembers when Met Park was the spot to go.

The Shipyards East, where the Orleck and fire museum are located, is also going to receive some funding so they can finish projects like moving the Kid’s Campus, a playground.

RELATED: Piers at future site of Shipyards West Park need to be replaced, could cost up to $30M in current design

Down the river, where The Jacksonville Landing once stood, is Riverfront Plaza and crews have been doing work in the area. Under the CBA, more money will be put toward building it out.

The discussion and votes on the plan to take up just parks instead of all of the community benefits will take place Thursday morning at a special council meeting where they could review the entire $1.4 billion agreement for the stadium renovations and lease for the team. During that meeting, incoming council president Randy White said he will offer an amendment only to add parks to the CBA.

The move, which is being sold as a compromise, pulls the controversial parts that some council members might have a conflict with including funding for Eastside developments, housing and programs to fight homelessness, and taking those issues up later this summer.

Here’s the plan as it currently stands:

  • $50 million to countywide workforce development and affordable housing and homeless initiatives

  • $30 million to Eastside economic development, affordable housing and mitigation of homelessness

  • $14 million spread among council districts

  • $8.76 million to the Flex Field in the sports complex

  • $10.04 million to Riverfront Plaza on the old Jacksonville Landing site

  • $24.7 million to Shipyards West Park on the downtown riverfront

  • $12.5 million to Metropolitan Park

The Jags have committed at least $100 million for community development and may add $50 million more.

But there are those like Robert who said he’s heard this all before.

“Oh, just they’re robbing Peter to pay Paul. They’re taking funds out of things that have already been forecasted long, long ago. And they’re moving it to their new agenda,” Robert said.

The final stadium agreement will be voted on next Tuesday and in October the NFL owners will also have to agree to the new lease agreement.

About the Author

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.

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