Jacksonville City Council tables move to give Durkeeville $200K in federal funding

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — An effort to revitalize one of the city’s oldest African American neighborhoods in Jacksonville was delayed again. At tonight’s city council meeting, council members tabled a move to give Durkeeville thousands of dollars in federal funding.


The ordinance has passed through committee three times, and after tonight’s vote, it’s returning for a fourth time. Many community members, including some council members, are upset by the decision.

“I’m incredibly frustrated and I feel awful for this community,” Council Member Jimmy Peluso said.

Tuesday night, council members voted down the emergency move to appropriate $200,000 to a community planning study for the Durkeeville community. And these funds are coming from the council president’s designated contingency.

Peluso and Council President Ron Salem created this ordinance.

Peluso says the Jacksonville Housing Authority owns 37 lots in Durkeeville, which means they are all publicly owned, so the city has control over what’s done with them.

“This could have been a great template tonight, that we pass forward using a great, amazing contractor,” Peluso said. “We could have found out using the Community-First model, getting people to tell us what they want, which I think is most important in the city, it’s something we’ve neglected for years.”

Council Member Terrance Freeman countered the ordinance, calling to “cast a wider net.”

During the public hearing portion, Freeman said, “If we have a willingness now to spend $200,000 to focus on Durkeeville, then is it safe to say that we can take that willingness and expand the scope.”

“When we come across unnecessary opposition from individuals that claim they represent us, but don’t take the time to get to know us and be a part of our celebration … it actually it irritates [us],” Durkeeville community member Temisha Hill said. “The urban core is not at a loss for intelligent individuals, we’re at a loss for opportunities and equality.”

[DOWNLOAD: Free Action News Jax app for alerts as news breaks]

The bill would have allowed a private contractor to conduct a community engagement and visioning study to develop a roadmap for revitalization and development. This is something Hill says is necessary for a neighborhood as old and neglected as this one.

“When they’re saying $200,000 is too much money, it should be sent to other consultants; my mind [went to] well how much is a $148 million for a big-behind sidewalk that goes throughout Jacksonville called the Emerald Trail,” Hill said. “So, you have $148 million for a sidewalk, but you don’t have $200,000 for a community-based survey that would give us a gameplan that would be continuing work that began 30 years ago with Hope 6 funding that was already allocated for the community.”

According to the Durkeeville Historic Society, this neighborhood was established after the Civil War.

This isn’t the first time the government has created an effort to help revitalize Durkeeville. Hope Six was a plan created in the early 2,000s, but it had been put on the back burner.

Now, it’s a waiting game on whether this ordinance will pass since it will have to go through the committee again.

[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]

Click here to download the free Action News Jax news and weather apps, click here to download the Action News Jax Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Action News Jax live.

Comments on this article