Parents upset about large fencing at public park

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It is a public park, but there are hundreds of feet of new fencing around popular soccer fields and that's got parents upset. Some are claiming they're loosing access.

Tekuilia Mitchell and her family play in the public park almost daily.

"There you are!" she said as she played with her young son on the slide.

Within sight was a long black fence which started rising about a week ago, she said.

"It just started piece by piece," Mitchell said. "The poles and the rest of the pieces started to come up."

The fence surrounds the soccer fields her family uses at Ed Austin Regional Park.

All the gates First Coast News reporter, David Williams, saw in the park were unlocked Tuesday morning. Still, Mitchell feels like access to this public park has become restricted.

"I feel like it is going to limit a lot of access to playing soccer," she said. "It's really just frustrating!"

City councilman Bill Bishop met with JaxParks Tuesday about the fencing.

Pam Roman, a JaxParks spokeswoman, told FCN the construction began in June with the fencing itself going in about 2 weeks ago. Costs were split between the city and a youth association and the city paid $40,758 from a Capital Improvement account. Roman said the construction is not costing taxpayers anything extra.

"I understand if they maintain it, they can fence it," Mitchell said, "But it's not fair to everyone else when it's a free park."

The fencing is being put in, said Roman, to stop vehicles from driving onto the fields and doing doughnuts and other damage that's expensive to fix.

Bishop adds he has heard from people unhappy about it but says the fencing is a good thing to do, adding this area was always meant to be athletic fields.

The fields will stay open to the public, except during association soccer practices and games.

Roman said the construction isn't finished and talks about the project have been going on for a little over a year. Roman said meetings have happened too.

The whole thing won't be done until it passes inspection.


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