Partly Cloudy
H 79° L 63°
  • clear-night
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy. H 79° L 63°
  • cloudy-day
    Partly Cloudy. H 79° L 63°
  • clear-night
    Clear. H 68° L 46°

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00


The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00


The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Competing claims on how to deal with Met Park noise

Competing claims on how to deal with Met Park noise

Competing claims on how to deal with Met Park noise
Photo Credit: Stephanie Brown
Mitt Romney made a campaign stop in Metro Park in Jacksonville on 10/31

Competing claims on how to deal with Met Park noise

Just a few weeks after Jacksonville’s City Council withdrew a measure that would have banned ticketed events at Met Park and instead created a committee to investigate the noise levels, a number of competing bills are in front of your representatives.

Entertainment District

Two of the measures directly deal with the Entertainment District that was established when Jacksonville hosted the Super Bowl.  The zone is exempt from noise ordinances as well as open container laws and other restrictions during designated times for events.  Councilwoman Kimberly Daniels has put forward a bill that would extend the district to include Met Park, EverBank Field, the baseball field and other venues in the area.

But for Councilman John Crescimbeni, that’s not the right move.

“The entertainment zone was created to be a temporary lived thing,” he says.

Along with Councilman Matt Schellenberg, Crescimbeni is sponsoring a bill that would repeal the entertainment district entirely.

“Once the Super Bowl was over and done with, that legislation creating that entertainment zone should have come off the books,” Crescimbeni says.

He says the zone isn’t intended to be something the city uses on a day-to-day regulatory basis, so using it to ordain a noise level on the venues isn’t right.  Schellenberg doesn’t necessarily want to get rid of the zone altogether, but says the current zone- or extension thereof- doesn’t fit what the city needs now.

“I just think that we need to regroup and figure out what that area- all that area- is good for,” he says.

Schellenberg remembers the city’s debate over a decade ago over whether there should be an amphitheater in Met Park.  When that’s added to the noise complaints generated from neighborhoods like St. Nicholas today, he says we just need to start from scratch.

Test period option

Councilwoman Lori Boyer wanted to have yet another option on the table.

“Don’t do something that just waives it [the noise ordinance] forevermore without having any of the data behind it,” she says of the plan she’s putting together.

Boyer has drafted a three part plan that is not on the formal council agenda, but that she hopes to get on the addendum- something Council President Bill Bishop tells me shouldn’t be a problem.  The first part of the bill waives the noise ordinance for the events that have already been commissioned for April, like “Welcome to Rockville”.  The second part would shield organizers during this month against potential noise-related fines or penalties they could incur if the ordinance were fully enforced.  Finally, she would have the city spend $3,000-$5,000 during those events to monitor the noise level at the site, as well as in surrounding neighborhoods.

She says it’s not proper to act on the entertainment zone without getting the data to back it up.

“My concern was we were kind of taking a very broad approach to solve a narrow problem,” she says.

Boyer tells me this study would focus more specifically on noise at Met Park, which seems to be the center of the concern.  Changing the entertainment zone would also mean lifting open container laws in the entire area, and Boyer says they have done no research in to how that would affect concessions at the stadium or public safety.

The back and forth

For promoters working on the Met Park events, time spent defending themselves, is time that’s diverted from making the event the best it can be, and trying to put Jacksonville on the entertainment map.

“It’s disquieting and discomforting and a huge distraction,” says Jacksonville attorney and promoter Mike Yokan.

He says it can be difficult to attract really big names to the area and put together these large festival shows without actually knowing if the show itself can happen.  And the show itself has the potential to bring lots of local jobs and revenue through hotels and restaurants.

“Half of our crowd comes from outside of the greater Jacksonville area,” he says.

But Jan Miller, who has lived in St. Nicholas for 30 years, says she’s less concerned about the economic impact, and more so about what it’s meant for her quality of life.

“If I’m not paying to hear for it, I don’t want to hear it,” she says.

She tells me the concerts have gone on longer and louder than before, and it carries across the river, sometimes shaking their walls.

Concerts v. other noises

Often in the debate over noise from concerts at Met Park has come the question of whether it’s the noise, or what’s said- why complain about concerts and not a football game?

For Miller, content is a concern, but it’s also the uncertainty of the concerts- when will they be, will they end on time, etc.

“When they [the Jaguars] do their music or their cheering, it’s not nearly as loud as a concert at Metro Park,” she says.

For Boyer, it boils down to what’s already on the books.

She says the current noise ordinance already includes exceptions for moving transportation, like trains or flyovers.  Also, the noise is measured as an average over 15 minute intervals, so the spurts of noise from a football crowd don’t register as high as the sustained noise from a concert.

Boyer admits some of the high volume events at EverBank could possibly violate the current ordinance, but says right now, there is very little done to monitor it, so that’s something they will have to find out.

Solution Tuesday night?

Yokan tells me he hopes something will be worked out soon.

“It’s a beautiful venue and there’s a way to make things work moving forward, and that’s what we hope if going to happen,” he says.

The “Welcome to Rockville” concert is planning on several promotions right outside City Hall leading up to the meeting, and encouraging people to speak on the current proposals.  St. Nicholas residents are also organizing with plans to show up in large numbers and speak on the proposals.

In all reality, however, the whole meeting could conclude without council formally discussing anything.

Bishop tells me while he may let the Boyer bill on the addendum, meaning it could be read in for the first time in front of Council, he will flatly refuse action to put anything dealing with Met Park on the fast track because the issue is- in his words- so important.  That means it’s unlikely we will see it bumped up to a full vote.

The Crescimbeni/Schellenberg bill to eliminate the Entertainment zone is up for its first reading Tuesday, meaning there is still about one month before that will see a vote as well.

Daniels did not return an interview request to address concerns about her bill.  It has cleared one committee but remains tied in another, which Daniels chairs.  It is possible that she could discharge the bill so it gets a council vote Tuesday, however Bishop would have to agree to put it on the agenda or it would take a significant vote from City Council.  While Bishop says he wouldn’t rule that out as a possibility, he tells me he needs to more closely review the proposal before formally deciding.

Read More

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

The Latest News Headlines

  • A Texas sheriff is getting angry feedback from free speech advocates after he wrote a Facebook post, which has since been deleted, threatening charges against a driver for a profane anti-Trump sticker on the window of her truck. Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy E. Nehls posted a photo on his Facebook page Wednesday that showed a white GMC Sierra with a window decal that reads, “(EXPLETIVE) TRUMP AND (EXPLETIVE) YOU FOR VOTING FOR HIM.” The photo shared by Nehls was censored to block a portion of the offending word. Similar images found online indicate that Nehls also blocked out a middle finger aimed at those reading the sticker.  In Nehls’ now-deleted post, which was saved and shared by the ACLU, the sheriff asked anyone who knows the owner of the truck to contact his office.  “I have received numerous calls regarding the offensive display on this truck, as it is often seen along FM 359,” Nehls wrote. “Our prosecutor has informed us she would accept disorderly conduct charges regarding it, but I feel we could come to an agreement regarding a modification to it.” The ACLU, in turn, asked the driver of the truck to contact the ACLU of Texas.  “No, Sheriff Troy E. Nehls, you can’t prosecute speech just because it contains words you don’t like,” the ACLU’s post read.  The Texas branch of the organization also spoke out, posting on Facebook details of the constitutional protections for profane and indecent speech. “Constitutional Law 101: You can’t ban speech just because it has (expletive) in it,” the post read. “Hey truck owner, feel free to contact the ACLU of Texas.” The driver of the truck, Karen Fonseca, did reach out to the Houston Chronicle. Fonseca, 46, said the truck is her husband’s, but she often drives it. She also said she used to work for Nehls in the county jail. Fonseca told the Chronicle that the sticker attracted plenty of attention even before the sheriff learned of it. People often honk their horns and take pictures. “It’s not to cause hate or animosity,” Fonseca told the newspaper. “It’s just our freedom of speech, and we’re exercising it.” >> Read more trending news She said police officers have pulled her over because of the sticker, but that they failed to come up with a reason to ticket her. She said she has no plan to contact her former boss about modifying the sticker.  Fort Bend District Attorney John Healey told the Chronicle that the sticker does not constitute a criminal offense, no matter what one of his own prosecutors may have told Nehls.  “I did not believe it was a prosecutable case based on the definition of disorderly conduct,” Healey said.  Both Healey and Nehls are Republicans, the Chronicle reported. Though Healey is not running for re-election, Nehls is considering a bid for Congress.  The sheriff said his concern was that the language on the sticker could cause a dangerous confrontation. “Many families have called that have seen that truck on our county roadways and are very offended by the language on the truck,” Nehls said. “I think they’re walking a fine line.”
  • The 45th American Music Awards ceremony is set for Sunday in Los Angeles, and if the past is any indication, you can expect a night with a few surprising moments.  Remember Garth Brooks declining the award, or the time Pat Boone dressed in leather? Yeah, it’s likely to be that kind of night. The show will be broadcast live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Here’s what you need to know about the show. What time: The show begins at 8 p.m. ET What channel: The AMAs will be broadcast live on ABC. Who is hosting: Tracee Ellis Ross, star of “black-ish,” is hosting. What about a pre-show: What would a music awards show be without a pre-show? AJ Gibson, Marc Malkin, Laura Marano and Oliver Trevena will host the official pre-show, “AMAs Red Carpet Live presented by Security Benefit.” The two-hour pre-show will stream live from the Microsoft Theater beginning at 6 p.m. ET. You can watch the show on Twitter. Find it here. live.twitter.com/amas or via @AMAs. You can also watch “E! Live from the Red Carpet” from 6-8 p.m. ET. on the E! Network. Who has the most nominations: Bruno Mars has the most nominations this year – eight. Who is nominated for Artist of the Year: The Chainsmokers, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran are up for the award. Who is up for Video of the Year: Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee ('Despacito'), Bruno Mars ('That's What I Like') and Ed Sheeran ('Shape of You') are the nominees. For a complete list of nominees, click here. Who is performing: Here is a list of those scheduled to perform: Alessia Cara Alesso BTS Christina Aguilera  Kelly Clarkson  Florida Georgia Line Niall Horan Selena Gomez Imagine Dragons Lady Gaga Nick Jonas Khalid Demi Lovato  Shawn Mendes P!nk Portugal. The Man Diana Ross Hailee Steinfeld watt Zedd Anything special: Diana Ross, mother of host Tracee Ellis Ross, is both performing and receiving a lifetime achievement award.
  • Thousands of Zimbabwe residents marched in the streets of Harare on Saturday, demanding the resignation of President Robert Mugabe, CNN reported. >> Read more trending news The protests in the capital city occurred days after the 93-year-old president was put under house arrest by the army, which also detained some of his key political allies. Mugabe has been Zimbabwe’s president since 1987. People waved Zimbabwean flags while others ran beside army tanks and hugged soldiers to show their gratitude, CNN reported. “The whole nation is celebrating today. We are finally getting rid of the old man,,” said Tanashe, a Harare resident who declined to provide a second name. But Mugabe was still refusing to step down Saturday, CNN reported. He was meeting Saturday with army chief Gen. Constantino Chiwenga to discuss what happens next. Chiwenga is pushing for Mugabe to step down and for an interim president to take over, CNN reported.
  • A Montana congressman misled investigators about his assault on a reporter the day before he was elected in May, claiming that “liberal media” were “trying to make a story,” the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported Saturday, citing audio and documents. >> Read more trending news U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, a Republican, told an officer in an audio interview after the attack that reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian newspaper had grabbed him by the wrist and pulled both of them to the floor. Audio of Gianforte’s interview with Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Scott Secor was released along with documents requested by the Chronicle and other news organizations after Gianforte was cited for assaulting Jacobs on May 24. Gianforte later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault.  The Chronicle requested the documents in June. After Gianforte, Jacobs and Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert did not object to the release, Gallatin County District Court Judge Holly Brown ruled this week that the documents could be released. \The audio of the interview with Gianforte comes from a recording made by Sgt. Scott Secor outside of Gianforte’s headquarters shortly after the 5:07 p.m. call Jacobs made to 911, a minute after he posted on Twitter, “Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses.” Once at the scene, Secor spoke with Jacobs first. “This is the weirdest day,” Jacobs told Secor.  The documents include interviews with members of a Fox News crew who were in the room with Gianforte and Jacobs at the politician’s Bozeman campaign office.  Gianforte told Secor that he was preparing for an interview with Fox News when “this man broke into a private room in the back and stuck a microphone in my face and started asking me obnoxious questions.” Gianforte said he tried to explain to him that he was in the middle of an interview, but that Jacobs kept “waving” the microphone in his face, the Chronicle reported. “I probably shouldn’t do it but I reached out for his phone ... he grabbed my wrist, he spun and we ended up on the floor ... so he pulled me down on top of him,” Secor quoted Gianforte as saying. After the incident Gianforte’s campaign spokesman, Shane Scanlon, issued a statement that also blamed the attack on Jacobs, saying the reporter had grabbed the candidate’s wrist.  Gianforte publicly apologized to Jacobs and told supporters he wasn’t proud of his actions. His spokesman, Travis Hall, insisted on Friday that the documents contained “nothing new.” “No one was misled, and anyone who says otherwise is mistaken. Greg took responsibility for his actions and is focused on serving the people of Montana,” Hall said in an emailed statement to The Associated Press.
  • As the House voted along party lines on Thursday to approve a sweeping package of GOP tax reforms, one peculiar part of the floor debate came when a number of Republicans – who voted for the bill – took to the floor to request changes in the their party’s plan, as some highlighted unintended consequences, while others objected to the basics of the measure. Known in parliamentary parlance as a “colloquy,” the scripted exchanges between lawmakers are often done to clarify the legislative intent of a bill, or in this case, to urge action in a specific way in House-Senate negotiations. And for some Republicans in this week’s tax reform debate, it was clear they wanted some provisions altered. Some requests were specific, like Rep. David McKinley (R-WV), who made the case for historic preservation tax credits, which were eradicated by the House GOP tax reform bill. “Without the credit, projects that transform communities in all 50 states, from West Virginia to Texas, to Wisconsin, simply will not happen,” McKinley said on the House floor, as he asked for Brady’s word that he would help reverse the decision. That didn’t happen. “I commit to working with him and continuing to work with him on this issue because I know the importance of it,” Brady responded, making sure not to guarantee anything in some of these floor exchanges. For Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), a staunch advocate of the GOP bill, he asked the Chairman of the House Ways and Means to do more in terms of tax help for the people of Puerto Rico, whose island was devastated by Hurricane Maria. “I look forward to working with you on ideas to best serve the people of this island,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), who thanked fellow GOP lawmakers for their concerns, but made no promises. For Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), the issue was with a new excise tax from Republicans that would be levied on the endowments of private colleges and universities. Barr said that would harm Berea College in his district, a ‘work college’ that uses its endowment money to pay the tuition of all students. It was noted in press stories back home. Barr Fights for Berea College in Tax Reform Bill – https://t.co/YoBgs5CWvp – — BereaOnline.com (@bereaonline) November 16, 2017 “I was pleased to learn that the Senate version of the bill exempts schools with fewer than 500 tuition-paying students from the excise tax,” Barr said, urging Brady to accept that position in any House-Senate negotiation. Brady said he would try. “Mr. Speaker, we will work together for a mutually accepted solution to make sure we exempt work colleges to use their endowments to provide tuition-free education,” the panel chairman responded. For Rep. Don Young (R-AK), the problem he brought to the House floor was under the heading of unintended consequences, as the GOP tax bill would subject native settlement trusts in Alaska to a higher rate of taxation. “This would make it more difficult for Alaska Native Settlement Trusts to provide long-term benefits to Alaska Natives,” Young said on the House floor, asking Brady to include provisions of a bill to remedy that and more. Unlike some of the other requests, Brady acknowledged that the GOP tax bill would “unintentionally” change the tax rate for the Alaskan settlements, agreeing to focus on this in conference as we finalize individual rate structures between the House and the Senate.” Others weren’t so lucky to get a guarantee of action, as they pressed for changes in maybe the most controversial part of the GOP plan, which limits a deduction for state and local taxes. “I am concerned about its impact on some of my constituents in Maryland who pay high state and local income taxes,” said Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), the only Republican member of the House from that state, which would be one of the biggest losers on the SALT issue. That subject also drew two California Republicans to make the same appeal to Brady later in the debate; Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA) and Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA) echoed the concerns of Harris – all of them got a murky assurance of help. “I am happy to commit to working with both of them to ensure we reach a positive outcome for their constituents and families as we reconcile our differences with the Senate,” Brady said, making no promises. Other Republicans brought up education, and a provision in the GOP tax reform bill that would hinder colleges and universities from providing tax free tuition waivers and reimbursements, a matter that has drawn more and more attention in recent days. Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) – whose district includes Dayton University – and Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) – whose district includes the University of Illinois – both appealed to Brady to make a change. “I believe that an unintended consequence of this bill would hinder middle class Americans pursuing a higher education degree in an attempt to better their lives,” Turner said. “I am worried it is going to have an impact on the custodians and the assistants in the Registrar’s Office who are just working at these institutions to be able to send their son or daughter to college,” said Davis. There was no guarantee that the provision would be changed. “I have a keen interest in this issue,” Brady told Turner and Davis. “I will work with you toward a positive solution on tuition assistance in conference with the Senate.” Democrats noted the exchanges on both days of the House tax reform debate, arguing that it showed off the haphazard nature of how the bill was put together. “I also was intrigued by the colloquy where Members came to ask the leadership if they will work with them to take out egregious elements of this tax proposal,” said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI). “We get this sort of, “Yes, I will work with the gentleman,” answer,” Kildee added, raising his voice on the floor. “Why did you put it in in the first place?” Kildee yelled. “Why are you cutting historic tax credits in the first place? Why did you put it in in the first place? You just wrote the bill. You just wrote it,” he said. GOP lawmakers said this past week that anyone can find a reason to vote against a big bill like this tax reform plan – we’ll see in coming weeks whether these publicly voiced concerns become an issue for the final version of tax reform in the Congress.

The Latest News Videos