Q: What is the latest on the sale of the JTA Marbon Road property?

A: This transaction hasn’t closed yet, but it is anticipated to happen in mid-June. Evidently there is a long-time easement mid-property that needs to be handled prior to closing and the owner of the easement is out of town.

Q: Do you have any updates about a walking trail in Mandarin?

Prudential Financial Planning Services with Andrew Laino

A: Money has been allocated for a walking trail between Palmetto Leaves Park and the kayak launch on Old St. Augustine Road (across Old St. Augustine Road from the Kohl’s shopping center). Work will begin very soon on this. Also, we are looking at making a wide bike path along the JEA electric grid from Palmetto Leaves Park, crossing Old St. Augustine Road, and ending near the South Mandarin Library. There is already a walking path and we are trying to add a nice bike path, trying to make something similar to the Baldwin Trail here in Mandarin. JEA is being very cooperative.

Q: What else is happening in District 6?

A: The Mandarin Road sidewalks are now completed and people are walking on them. Surveying is taking place for the proposed sidewalks northerly on Mandarin Road as well as along Orange Picker Road to Brady Road. I will be meeting soon with residents along Orange Picker Road to address their questions about this project.

The Losco Park playground won’t be open until mid-June as the play structure is still en route to Jacksonville. Finally, the arborists are continuing their work on trying to determine the best trees for the medians that are being refurbished on San Jose Boulevard.

Q: What else is on your mind?

A: While this administration has been very good at making Mandarin a great place to live, I would like to have an open discussion to determine if perhaps Mandarin should be a city within Duval County, much like the City of Atlantic Beach and the City of Neptune Beach. There are approximately 420 cities in Florida, and with Mandarin’s population of about 65,000, it would actually be one of the bigger cities. Of course we would explore the advantages and disadvantages to determine if this is something the citizens of Mandarin would like to do.

Q: What about the inefficiencies and duplication of services that partially led initially to the consolidation of Jacksonville?

A: Fifty years ago, when Jacksonville consolidated, Mandarin had around 4,000 residents and now we have about 65,000. One big advantage would be to have local elected officials who are closer to their constituents. Decisions could be made more quickly and issues dealt with locally. We would still have a representative on the City Council and possibly still be able to use the county police. It might cost more, but perhaps Mandarin’s quality of life would be better by being a city within the county? I think it is just time to revisit consolidation and have the conversation. After 50 years, communities, like businesses, should reevaluate where they stand to insure it’s still the best thing for the citizens.

Q: What is the best way for our readers to contact you?

A: Community members can email me at MattS@coj.net or call (904) 630-1388.

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