Hanna Park Access Threatened

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.
———————————–
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.
———————————–

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

Comments

  1. Eddie Pitts says:

    Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law

    “No part of Florida is more exclusively hers, nor more properly utilized by her people than her beaches.”

    In particular, section 161.053(1)(a) states that:

    the beaches in this state and the coastal barrier dunes adjacent to such beaches . . . represent one of the most valuable natural resources of Florida and . . . it is in the public interest to preserve and protect them from imprudent construction which can jeopardize the stability of the beach-dune system, accelerate erosion, provide inadequate protection to upland structures, endanger adjacent properties, or interfere with public beach access.

    I am contacting you to voice my support for public access to Kathryn Abbey Hanna and Huegnot parks . The parks are 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.

  2. Steve S says:

    Wow!!!
    What in the world is going on????
    Do they really have the right to block us from public beaches even though we paid to be there?
    What will be the next target of cities if this holds? This would set the ground work for other cities to say any beach is closed at a certain time. What if the people living on the beach loby to have people off the beach by 6:00 so they dont have to see people on THIER BEACH. Hanna Park has an automatic exit gate so what the hell is the big deal. Could this just be a way to collect money from tickets and at the same time screw with surfers and alike????? The power is the people NOT GOVERMENT!!!!! We have to do what ever it takes to stop this or coastal residents all over the country will suffer the same fate.
    PEOPLE CONTACT YOUR CITY OFFICIALS AND STAND YOUR GROUND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Here’s an email I just got:

    Good Evening!

    Our oceanfront parks’ current hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. We are committed to extending hours at both parks and are working diligently to make that happen. The parks lost several staff members in a short timeframe, as sometimes happens with all businesses, and we are moving as quickly as possible to fill the positions. Once we have hired and trained staff we will be able to expand the hours to 8pm at both parks so that families and individuals have more time to enjoy our beautiful beaches. This is NOT a policy change by the department!! We hope to have the issue resolved as quickly as possible and will have everything in place by the beginning of summer.

    In previous years, the parks also offered early bird entry from 6 to 8 a.m. for a reduced rate. In an effort to meet current budget requirements this year, we reduced the early bird entry times by one hour; now 7 to 8 a.m. The financial result is an annual savings of approximately $40,000. Prior to this revision, we looked at data that showed that only .05% of Hanna’s annual visitors entered the park during the early bird window. In addition, we reviewed a comparison of state parks which showed the vast majority offer no early bird options and do not open until 8 a.m. Our goal is to find a balance that can accommodate early entry but allow us to be better in line with current budget requirements.

    If you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Thank you!!

    Kelley Boree, CPRP
    Director
    Department of Parks and Recreation

    214 N. Hogan Street, Suite 3102
    Jacksonville, Florida 32202

    904.255.7908 phone
    904.360.8552 fax

  4. How is it they can spend. Money on hundreds of useless palm trees in an empty parking lot at Huguenot but can’t afford to pay one person. One hour a day to take money at the gate. Are these early birds so destructive they need babysitters? I would like a job where I work 1 hour a day and make 40 k a year.

    NO ONE SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO KEEP ANYONE FROM ANY BEACH OR CHARGE FOR SOMETHING THAT BELONGS TO EVERYONE!

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