Park problems leave residents looking for answers | News

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Park problems leave residents looking for answers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Willowbranch Park is small and nestled between tall trees and residential properties near Cherry and Park streets. Apparently, the park is well used.

So why were the basketball nets and hoops removed? The park is in Jacksonville Councilman Jim Love's Riverside district.

"There were a lot of folks being noisy playing basketball, cuss words," said Love, "Also, they had loud music playing."

And that generated complaints from some who live near the park and when the councilman asked parks and recreation to review the situation, they had a solution.

"The parks department came up with the idea to take down some of the nets and hoops," said Love.

Love said it was a compromise to keep the park functional and control the crowd thus addressing complaints from residents.

Today, two of the hoops are still functional, but you can't play a full court game of basketball. Love said that has generated a new round of complaints

"Right now I'm looking into it and I'm re-evaluating it," he said.

Love now wants to see the number of police complaints, as well as the number of complaints to city hall. He also plans to meet with those who live near the park.

"I want to know if there's another solution," said Love, "Maybe we have gone too far."

Not too far from Willowbranch Park, in the Magnolia Gardens community, another city park problem.

"They came and did this," said Tamara Walker, "but they won't cut this?

Walker lives next to Scott Park and wants to know why the city park maintenance mows the grass but stops near a overgrown ditch. The vegetation is five feet tall in some areas.

"It is dangerous and the kids playing just feet away," said Walker, "You have water moccasins that can come out the ditch. ... I mean, it is a safety issue."

Walker said she reported the conditions to city hall and was told someone would be out in two weeks. That did not happen, so she called again and was told it would be six months.

"I just want this area cleaned up," said Walker, "Why am I getting the run around?"

The city's parks and recreation department said the problem is the area does not belong to the city. It is Duval County School Board property.

Apparently this has been an issue or misunderstanding in the past.

Marsha Oliver, spokesperson for the school board, said it is now in the hands of their operations department.

"The will look at the aerial pictures," said Oliver, "If they determine it is our property, we will clean it up as soon as possible." 

Walker is hoping that it doesn't mean waiting two weeks or six months as she was told by the city. 


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