Speak Out: Building on Jacksonville’s heritage
by our readers
May 13, 2013 | 3482 views |  0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jacksonville is watching a new level of teamwork develop between city leaders and the school system. Their efforts will likely lead to much needed improvements in school facilities. Much of the credit goes to Mayor Johnny Smith, for his experienced fiscal management, and to Superintendent Jon Campbell, for his collaborative leadership style. Jacksonville State President Bill Meehan also deserves credit for his support of Jacksonville City Schools; he has generously offered the city an enduring 100-year lease on the current Kitty Stone Elementary property.

In this spirit of cooperation, the Board of Education is charged with finding ways to achieve state-of-the-art facilities while addressing the need for sensible civic planning. If Jacksonville is going to spend millions of dollars of public money, it has a rare opportunity to meet multiple goals. Among these goals should be preventing expensive and dangerous traffic problems, investing city assets in a variety of neighborhoods, and preserving our historic village design centered on the Town Square.

The current Kitty Stone location is convenient and centrally located. By foot or on bicycle, children can reach the public library, recreation center and city park after school. The neighborhood is welcoming, with sidewalks, shade trees and a beautiful creek. Denser housing means there are many children nearby who will lose their connection to this historic school if it is abandoned.

The sensible and fiscally responsible choice is to rebuild to the community’s desired specifications at the current location.

And, if City Hall and Kitty Stone can both be renovated, instead of built new, the cost savings will allow the city to consider funding a long awaited middle school. The historic Eastwood School is a beloved architectural gem sitting vacant. It would mean a great deal to the surrounding neighborhood if children’s laughter could once again ring out in its hallways.

Let’s have the vision to build on our unique civic heritage.

Susan Di Biase
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