JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville Port Authority agreed to give up ownership of the St. Johns River Ferry, but they will still keep a piece of Mayport waterfront land.
Next week the City Council will decide on a Wednesday agreement by JaxPort to give up the ferry and pay $200,000 to help the St. Johns River Ferry Commission operate it. The city would contribute another $200,000.
JaxPort will still hold onto a piece of land given by the city in 2007 which includes 4610 Ocean St. a one-acre piece of land in the middle of a six-acre waterfront strip JaxPort owns. At one time they had considered it for a cruise terminal.
“I’m a little disturbed about giving up that land,” said Elaine Brown, commissioner on the St. Johns River Ferry Commission.
Still, she says the Commission’s goal is to raise $700 thousand to keep the ferry running for another year.
With $400 thousand coming to them, she said they can at least get through the first part of the year. In that time, the Commission hopes to find a more permanent funding source, look at how they can reduce ferry expenses, and get ridership up.
“The fight is about keeping A1A open,” Brown said.
The ferry is a part of the eastern Greenway Trail, which extends all the way from Maine to Key West. It’s also used by commuters as a connection of the north and south ends of Florida State Road A1A. It links Mayport Village and Fort George Island.
Brown says if the ferry closes, it’ll be bad economic news for Mayport, and commuters will have much longer travel times.
“There are a lot of businesses that depend on it, and there are jobs related to tourism. And certainly the jobs that are on the ferry,” Brown said. “The navy needs it, the citizens need it….but also, we need it for tourism.”
This Saturday from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. they are throwing a music, food and art festival in Mayport to get some help from the public.