Q: Can you give an update about the zoning exception request for the Great Heart Academy Charter School on Old St. Augustine Road, south of Greenland Road?
A: A lot of work was done via the Town Hall and the Planning Commission meeting to communicate the community’s displeasure with the proposed location for this school. It was also a team effort with DCPS and particularly School Board member Lori Hershey, who questioned the value of a school in that location. To the credit of the Great Heart Academy Charter School, they withdrew their application to locate on Old St. Augustine Road. 

Q: Do you have any insight into the Ferngully Preserve situation?

A: This property is located at the end of Woodside Lane, which is a private road off Mandarin Road. There is a large parcel of undeveloped land, a portion of which is owned by the Audubon Society, another portion which is owned as a preserve (Ferngully Preserve) by the City of Jacksonville, and an adjacent portion, the property in question, which is 4.5 acres and privately owned by a widow who is trying to sell it for development. This is a contentious issue because presently, Woodside Lane is used as an easement to access the property and property owners on Woodside Lane are fighting against its continued use for this purpose. Also affected are homeowners on Royal Fern Lane, which backs up to the property. All these neighbors would like to see the city purchase the 4.5 acres and add it to the Ferngully Preserve, where it would remain undeveloped. The market value of the property is $125,000.

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Q: Is that a possibility?
A: The city’s Parks and Rec Department has agreed to set aside half of the money, or $62,500, to purchase the property; this would still need City Council approval. We have gotten the North Florida Land Trust to serve as an administrator for a fundraising initiative so the community can raise the other half of the money. 

Q: What can citizens do who would like to support this effort?
A: The North Florida Land Trust has a dedicated donation page on its website (https://support.nflt.org/) where community members can make a donation. I’d like to make a personal appeal to those interested in helping preserve the character of Mandarin: Here is your chance. A contribution in any amount is welcomed. We are trying to raise as much money as possible by July 19. 

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

A: Community members can email me at MBoylan@coj.net or call (904) 255-5206.

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