Today, in the Business section of the Florida Time-Union, the effect of several downtown advocacy groups (MetroJacksonville included) was discussed.http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/021907/bus_7953815.shtml (http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/021907/bus_7953815.shtml) This was a decent article, just a couple of comments.1. Bart Weitz, the Executive director for the Miller Center at UF, is apparently still living in the 1980s. There are several examples of grassroots organizations helping to successfully revitalize their neighborhoods and in a majority of major cities, downtown retail has been coming back, during the last decade.
2. MetroJacksonville.com was not founded by any one person, it was founded by five "young" professionals with expertise in varying fields. The discussion site: MetJax Forums-- started in Nov 2005, after a group of (mostly) Jacksonville residents left a discussion board called the Urban Planet forum. The MetroJacksonville Group was founded in Feb. 2006, as a direct result of Mayor Peyton's Big Idea's downtown redevelopment plan. The rapid growth of these forums are also directly related to the release of the Big Idea.
3. Our goals are much larger than changing parking policy or holding the Administration's feet to the fire. A good portion of our efforts involve educating the public about the things that make our region unique, introducing urban connectivity (which makes Weitz's comments irrelevant), and stressing the importance of residents to get out and support the establishments already downtown. The only thing we really want from city government is form them to get out of the way by easing up on the restrictive policies and let the private sector and natural market take control.
4. Yes, the Metro Jacksonville Group (which is a different organization than the MetJax forums) is opinionated. However, its one thing to be opinionated without proof to back it up, but we provide sound solutions and quality examples of the solutions being implemented to back up our opinions. Combine that with modern technology and educated talent and you've got a monster on your hands that won't be going anywhere anytime soon. On a daily basis, we feed the site with new articles, studies, photo tours and commentary about issues affecting downtown, the urban core, and the future of this entire region in general.
So get your popcorn ready, because we're going to put on a show.