City leaders dodge questions about changes to Jacksonville parks since boy's death

By: Jenna Bourne , Action News Jax

Updated:

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - City park leaders are dodging questions about what’s being done to protect children in parks.

This comes after 3-year-old Amari Harley’s body was found Oct. 22 in a septic tank at Bruce Park.

Action News Jax showed up to a meeting of the city’s Special Committee on Parks Wednesday, trying to get answers.

Neither Amari’s death nor septic tank lids came up during the meeting.

After the meeting, city park leaders did not have answers about what’s being done now to prevent this from happening to another child.

“The policy is to talk to [city spokesperson] Tia Ford,” said Jacksonville Parks Director Daryl Joseph when Action News Jax asked him whether the city has made progress toward standardizing septic tank lids in parks. “You have to talk to Tia Ford and I can set up an interview.”

Action News Jax followed up with Ford and fellow spokesperson Marsha Oliver, asking for an interview with Joseph.

Oliver said Joseph was not available.

“Our comprehensive review efforts are continuing and until that process is completed, there is no new information to share,” Oliver said.

Two weeks ago, Mayor Lenny Curry said the city will standardize septic tank lids in public parks.

Action News Jax checked around the city and found lids made of rubber, metal, fiberglass and cement.

The lids are secured with screws, bolts and padlocks.

Special Committee on Parks Chairman Scott Wilson repeatedly told Action News Jax he was in the dark about the city’s progress on standardizing the lids.

“I have not had that discussion with the parks department,” Wilson said.

Wilson also said he did not know whether any changes were made in city parks since Amari’s death.

“I would have to check with the parks department,” Wilson said. “We’re going through a comprehensive process as far as maintenance and what needs to be done for our parks going forward in the future.” 

The city has not responded to our public records request from Oct. 23 asking for email communication to or from public works involving the septic tank at Bruce Park. 

Next Up: