JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Vacant eye sores with river views on Jacksonville's northbank will be torn down thanks to an allocation in this year's city budget.
Mayor Lenny Curry said during a budget presentation before City Council that it's crucial for downtown to get the old courthouse and old city hall ready for redevelopment.
"You cannot be a suburb of nowhere," Curry said. "We must prepare downtown for private investment."
Curry wants $1 million to upgrade downtown landscaping and lighting and $8 million to complete reconstruction of Liberty Street, the waterfront roadway that fell into the St. Johns River in 2015.
The proposed budget represents the largest financial commitment to capital projects from the mayor's office.
Curry said Monday those proposed allocations are possible because of what voters did last fall when they passed pension reform.
He said it freed up $69 million he was able to use when he developed his budget at City Hall.
The mayor's budget calls for 100 new officers at the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and 42 new firefighters at Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department.
In conjunction, a new "Safer Neighborhoods Initiative" will support the departments with state of the art equipment.
"Fire mobile data terminals, fire bunker gear to bring it to new standards, JSO equipment and various other equipment for fire rescue," Curry explained of the $50 million allocations.
The initiative also renovates some city pools so young children can take swimming lessons. Curry estimates 12,000 kids can learn to swim in the next three years.
"Seven pools will be available for year round drowning prevention for all children and youth for this city wide program," Curry said.