Do you surf, bike, run, or play in Hanna Park? Your access to the park is being restricted! The official closing time in the summer months (April through October) is 8pm. However, recently the park has been closing at 6pm due to “budget cuts,” and parking citations are being issued to anyone that is in the park later than this. We’re told that the Jacksonville City Council has the sole authority to change the park hours, but they haven’t. Not only does that question the legality of the change of hours, but also the citations many of you may have received from the JSO. If you are concerned, check out the links below. They give you the contact information for the key decision makers within our city government. Please reach out the them by email or phone (or both!) and let them know that you support better access to Hanna Park, and don’t believe individuals (particularly those that are unelected) should have the power to restrict citizens from this public resource. There is also some sample text below that you can use.

It has come to our attention that the same change of hours has occurred at Huguenot Memorial Park. It is apparently not the poor management of a single park, but a city-wide effort to save money in the least effective way while limiting recreation opportunities. We don’t believe that makes sense. We believe if the City is going to control our land, they need to be good stewards of that land, and remember that it is, in fact, ours.

Ken Berk, Park ManagerKathryn Abbey Hanna Park:
500 Wonderwood Drive
Jacksonville, FL 32233
(904) 249-4700
(904) 249-8688 (Fax)

 

Chris Winterman, Park ManagerHuguenot Memorial Park
(904) 251-3335
chriswin@coj.net

 

These parks are managed under the purview of the Recreation, Community Development, Public Health & Safety Committee. They are holding their next meeting on Tuesday, April 17 at 2pm in the Council Chamber at City Hall (117 W. Duval Street). There will be an Agenda Meeting immediately prior at 1:30pm the same day in Conference Room A, Suite 425, City Hall. For more information on the committee, go here
Committee Members:
Bill Gulliford – Chair [(904) 630-1397,Gulliford@coj.net]
Reginald Brown – Vice Chair [(904) 630-1684,RBrown@coj.net]
Lori Boyer [(904) 630-1382,LBoyer@coj.net]
Doyle Carter [(904) 630-1380,doylec@coj.net]
Kimberly Daniels [(904) 630-1393,KimDaniels@coj.net]
Robin Lumb [(904) 630-1387,RLumb@coj.net]
Matt Schellenberg [(904) 630-1388,MattS@coj.net]

 

Hanna Park also falls within the boundaries of District 11
Ray Holt, District 11 Council Member:
Office of the City Council
117 W. Duval St., Suite 425
Jacksonville, FL 32202
Phone: (904) 630-1383
FAX: (904) 630-2906
Email: Holt@coj.net

 

Alvin Brown, Mayor
Mayor’s Office
City Hall at St. James Building
117 W. Duval St. Suite 400
Jacksonville, FL 32202
Phone: (904) 630-1776
E-mail: mayorbrown@coj.net

 

Contact information for the rest of the City Council can be found here.

 

Here is some sample text to use when contacting these officials. Feel free to use this in your correspondence with any of the above. Any personalization you add will only help convey your concern.
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I am contacting you to voice my support for public access to Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park and Huguenot Memorial Park. The park is a one-of-a-kind city resource for recreational opportunities in a setting of great natural beauty. However, those resources cannot be utilized and that beauty not appreciated if the public is denied access. Recently, park officials have changed the summer park closing hours from 8pm to 6pm and Jacksonville Police officers have been on hand issuing citations to cars still in the park immediately after this time.

During the summer, the sun sets over Jacksonville as late as 8:30pm, meaning there are hours of daylight during which Jacksonville residents are denied access to a significant portion (1.5 miles) of public beach (belonging to the citizens), as well as 447 acres of taxpayer-funded city park land. These late hours are particularly important to the livelihood of those working a typical 9-5 work day, who otherwise would not have an opportunity to enjoy these recreational opportunities during the work week.

The park’s policy of antagonism toward users is neither sustainable nor fair to the citizens whose tax dollars and park use fees pay the salary of the park officials that are denying access. Additionally, the valuable resources of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office should not be wasted issuing frivolous citations of questionable legality to already-paying park users.

I ask that you please review this policy and protect open access to this and all city parks for the residents of Duval and the surrounding counties.

Thank you.
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We will also be discussing this at our meeting next Tuesday. We need to develop a way forward if the officials above do not respond to our concerns.

 

Image courtesy of Michael Whitaker