Upset Jax Beach residents return to table with city council on controversial Urban Trails project

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — A controversial topic among many Jacksonville Beach residents once again was brought to the table for discussion.


The Jacksonville Beach City Council reviewed the comments about the Urban Trails project and are looking to make a compromise.

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The meeting wrapped up at about 7 p.m. on Mon., Jan. 8. Many people said ahead of the meeting that they were distraught and upset. But out of the meeting, one man Action News Jax spoke with said he felt heard.

“It felt like the meeting a month ago, they were just shoving it down our throats with here’s here’s the plan, take it or leave it, Dennis Burns, a Jax Beach resident said. “It was a little bit more encouraging to hear them, especially Bill Horne.”

Related Story: Sparks fly as Jacksonville Beach residents voice concerns over Urban Trails project

This comes after Burns first said he was deeply concerned about learning about the project only three months ago.

“They’re railroading this whole project through without any input from the actual owners, homeowners that are affected … I’m gonna lose almost 17 feet of my driveway for this project,” he said.

Robert Sherman lives on 15th Avenue North, and he is also concerned about how this will affect his property.

“They gave me permits to put down pavers and invest in beautifying and upgrading my property to give it more value,” Sherman said. “But, now they’re saying, we’re going to tear it all out. And, for what? More pedestrian traffic that I never see.”

The city said conversations surrounding the project began in 2020. In Monday’s agenda, the city referenced last month’s community meeting. They responded to 114 comment cards. While the majority of people were opposed to the project, it states 25 comment cards showed support for the project.

“I, I’m encouraged by, you know, the approach of the city council that they’re very deliberate, you know, and want to make sure that we get this project, right,” Jason Phitides, Director of Parks and Recreation, Jacksonville Beach, said.

Related Story: Proposed Jax Beach walking trail could run through your front yard, city designs show

Phitides said in tonight’s meeting that he wants to look at all the variables before coming up with a concrete plan.

The plan was set to build a 10-foot-wide trail through neighborhoods and onto the right-of-way portion of a lot of people’s property. After tonight’s discussion, the city council is willing to shorten the width.

“Seven-and-a-half-feet really still accomplishes what we want, which is enough room for people to ride bikes side by side, walk next to each other, the Mayor of Jax Beach said.

The city wants to connect the area and have a safe place for families to walk or ride bikes.

Mayor Hoffman said she understands it’s not one-size-fits-all.

“I think we need to handle each leg of the urban trail very independently, but also holistically.”

The first phase of the project will impact five streets, including 15th Avenue, 4th Avenue, 8th Avenue, 9th Avenue, and Jacksonville Drive.

“I absolutely want this to be a project that people can be excited about,” Mayor Hoffman said.

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The city council doesn’t have a date set for the project, as they are still discussing how to best move forward with it.

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