Monroe Street Closure On The Brink Of Happening

October 11, 2011 93 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

For those who have not followed us over the years, Metro Jacksonville has been a strong proponent for not rebuilding Monroe Street in front of the courthouse since the City Council approved the current design in 2008.



This position was taken early on because rebuilding the street would be a repeat of the same failed autocentric policies that transformed a vibrant urban core into the sleepy place that exists today, over a three decade period.  

Basically, rebuilding the street exacerbates our “car-centric” environment downtown,  creates building security issues, creates hazardous and confusing intersections at both Broad and Pearl Streets, creates a dangerous pedestrian environment by having two roads (Adams and Monroe) so close to each other running in opposite one-way patterns, not to mention it’s just bad transportation design and makes no urban design sense whatsoever.  Instead of forcing cars into a space not suitable for them, we have advocated developing a civic green space to better integrate the out-of-scale courthouse structure into the urban environment surrounding it.

This matter was reviewed and discussed on multiple fronts, i.e.:  the DDRB (Downtown Development Review Board), JEDC (Jacksonville Economic and Development Commission), DVI (Downtown Vision Inc.), the previous City Council and its various sub-committees, all of which either raised serious questions about its function and aesthetic or had outright recommended not to re-open the street.   Despite this concern, one of the last “recommendations” of our past City Council was to keep it open, regardless of what the majority of our design community and downtown advocates lobbied against.  


What Other Cities Are Doing: St. Louis' CityGarden.

Recently, Councilman Don Redman and Councilperson Lori Boyer, drafted an ordinance which identified another reason to keep Monroe Street closed…it could save  the taxpayers approximately $800,000 in construction costs for the road.  A re-design ( at no additional cost to the City) was done that demonstrated a “cost neutral” alternative to the street remaining open, and provided an open green space on either side of the main entrance.  This approach releases the strangle hold on the building and creates a “formal” entry walk from Adams Street, where there would be a drop off provided for HC or elderly, and a walkway directly from Adams to the entrance accented by landscaping from the original design that is relocated to augment this potential open green space.

According to Councilwoman Boyer, she is about two votes shy of supporting the closure of Monroe Street. Therefore, Metro Jacksonville is asking the community, civic stewards, fiscal conservatives, downtown advocates and design professionals to educate our city leaders on the benefits of good site planning and urban design principles.  Metro Jacksonville has word that the push to not spend $800,000 to rebuild Monroe Street is roughly two council votes short of winning out.  If enough of our readers and fellow Jaxsons voice our opinion to the Council members who are still on the fence, we can defeat the efforts to hold downtown back through continued practice of bad urban policy, such as reconstructing a street at the detriment of downtown pedestrians.

The following list of City Council Representatives have not rendered an opinion. If we do our part by contacting them via email, phone or personal visit, it may be enough to finally get something positive implemented in this distressed area of downtown.

 
•             District 9 Warren Jones  630-1395       WAJones@coj.net
 
•             District 8 E. Denise Lee  630-1385       EDLee@coj.net
 
•             District 12 Doyle Carter  630-1380       doylec@coj.net
 
•             District 10 Reggie Brown  630-1684      RBrown@coj.net
 
•             District 13 Bill Guilliford  630-1397        Gulliford@coj.net
 
•             At Large Stephen Joost  630-1396       Joost@coj.net
 
•             At Large Kimberly Daniels  630-1393     KimDaniels@coj.net



What Other Cities Are Doing: Nashville-Davidson County Courthouse's Public Square.


Your activism will be a major contribution to the good of our downtown community.  If Jacksonville is to compete economically in the 21st century, we have to move past the failed policies of catering to automobiles over the human scale experience of urban environments.  Stopping the rebuilding of Monroe Street would be a great start.

For more information on this topic:

Why Monroe Street Should Not Be Rebuilt

Duval County Courthouse: Still Stumbling in the Dark

Urban Infill: A Courthouse Square for Jacksonville

Rebuild Monroe Street - Why Bother?

Courthouse Asphalt or Green Space, The Choice is Yours?



Editorial by Ennis Davis, Co-Founder of MetroJacksonville.com