Petition to save the ‘boat ramp cats’ presented at public hearing

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — A public hearing on Tuesday night discussed a new development in Jacksonville Beach.

The project would revamp the Beach Marina at 2315 Beach Blvd., and build on the surrounding acres of land.

Some neighbors say they’re ok with this construction, but that there needs to be a plan for the animals who call this area home.

Bright neon signs stand in between the paved road and wetlands next to the public boat ramp in Jacksonville Beach. It’s letting everyone know, this land is set to be developed.

Windward Jacksonville owns the site on 2315 Beach Boulevard, and the 120 acres of undeveloped property next to it.

In a bill sponsored by Mayor Lenny Curry, Windward says it wants to invest $45 million to revamp the marina and expand on some of the nearby land, building new residential units, and adding retail and restaurant spaces.

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But some neighbors say it comes at an even higher price for the animals who live here.

“Turning our backs on this situation would just plain be animal cruelty,” said Teresa O’Brien, a feeding volunteer who is part of a group of volunteers who feed the cats every day and give them fresh water to survive on the island.

Volunteers say the cats have been there for at least the past 15 years, and now, they worry about the future.

“Where are these cats gonna go? They’ll have no habitat,” said O’Brien. “They’ll get run over, they’ll drown. I’m afraid of what’s gonna happen.”

They say this applies to all wildlife.

“It’s not just about cats,” she said. “It’s about possible osprey nests, eagles’ nests.”

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At Tuesday’s City Council Meeting, they presented an online petition, to save the ‘boat ramp cats.’

They say they just want someone to help relocate these animals.

“Let’s get them somewhere safe,” she emphasized.

Action News Jax reached out to the mayor’s office, and to Windward for comment but we have not received a response yet.