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Posted on: November 9, 2021

Recreational Opportunities Key for City Land Purchase

Youth Baseball

A recent land purchase in the City of Jacksonville has opened options for improved recreational activities. Mayor Sammy Phillips addressed Council members at the City Council Workshop on November 3, 2021, to talk about potential plans for the newly purchased 400+ acres of land in the Williamsburg area of the City. In his presentation, Mayor Phillips spoke about recreational needs in Jacksonville and how this land purchase can provide opportunity for economic growth and improved quality of life for Citizens both young and old.

Mayor Phillips stated, “Acquiring this land is an opportunity for the City to expand on our recreational facilities, ball fields, trails and open space. We want this to be the place where all Citizens can participate in sporting events or tournaments for soccer, softball, Lacrosse or other sports.” The Mayor added “The land has been assessed at 2.6 million dollars and the City was able to settle on a purchase price of 2.4 million dollars. This purchase was able to happen without affecting the current tax rate.”

The land area, just over 400 acres, is located north of the intersection of Gum Branch Road and Western Boulevard in Jacksonville. Although some of the land is tagged as wetlands, the City has determined that the majority of the acreage is suitable for a variety of outdoors sports fields and recreational facilities. 

In his message to Council, Mayor Phillips said, "Jacksonville is a family friendly community and expanding on recreation facilities works to meet the needs of Citizens as our City grows.” 

New construction at the Jack Amyette Recreation facility is a good example of the City’s growing need for recreational facilities. This facility is the location for before and after school programs, the site of the City’s first splash pad and has a ball field available for league use. Damage to the gym at Jack Amyette building during hurricane Florence was so severe, that the City had to tear down and rebuild the facility and increase the size of the structure to accommodate for growing community need.

Over the past two years, Jacksonville Recreation has collected comments and feedback through a series of public input sessions regarding the master plan for Recreation and Parks. Citizens have expressed a need for more recreational opportunities such as sports fields to use for league play and larger tournaments.

Next steps in planning for the 400+ acre site include creating concepts to share at public input sessions and with City Advisory Committees for feedback. The City is also speaking with other Cities who have been through the same process to determine the best outcome for Jacksonville.

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