Jacksonville, FL - A new proposal on a very old debate.
Jacksonville’s City Council is getting closer to considering a now-modified proposal about moving the Supervisor of Elections office.
This week, Councilman Clay Yarborough made changes to his initial proposal. He wants a new SOE Office to be constructed on city-owned property in LaVilla, but is now willing to cap the spending at $6 million rather than $8 million. He has also now included a provision which allows the city to look in to leasing other sites as well. It would give the administration until April to act on that, and allow the council to begin to explore all the options.
“This is not about making a commitment to one project or the other, but it’s about having all the facts in front of you,” says Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland.
Holland says there are benefits to the city building from scratch because they would be able to control the costs associated and design a building to his specifications. Some of the key points he looks for include a one story building, 60,000 sq. ft., 150 parking spaces, two loading docks, and air conditioned warehouse space, on a bus route and a central location in the county.
“We’ve looked at probably over 40 different properties in the last two years,” Holland says.
Because of the number of buildings they’re already screened, he’s not sure whether there will be a good site to lease, or an existing government building that would work, but he’s willing to let the process play out to see what is best for the county overall.
“I wanna use other space to if we have it in city owned buildings, but we don’t have anything as of yet that has proved that it will be adequate for the needs of elections,” Yarborough says.
Mayor Alvin Brown previously told WOKV he did not support building a new office because of the number of available existing building the city owns. We’ve reached out to his office for a reaction to the modified proposal.
The Mayor’s office has been, in Holland’s words, the “sticking point”- especially in moving forward to get an office set up before the 2014 election.
“We have that opportunity to do it, but everybody needs to be cooperative,” Holland says.
The Mayor’s office is still screening several city sites for their compatibility as a new site for the Supervisor’s Office. Holland says the top two options brought forward so far have flaws. The Old Armory building is a good building but prone to flooding, and the Yates building does not have the proper loading docks or elevators.
“Everything has been like trying to fit a round peg in a square hole up to now,” Yarborough says.
The Supervisor’s Office is currently in two locations- A downtown office owned by the city and a spot in the Gateway shopping plaza which is leased. The new site will be a consolidated location where all the Supervisor’s services are under one roof.