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8.17.12 EnvironmentalSymposium

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8.17.12 EnvironmentalSymposium

  1. 1. Office of the Mayor City of Jacksonville Alvin Brown Address to 6th Annual Environmental Symposium Embargoed for 12:30 p.m., August 17, 2012 – Prepared for Delivery It’s a pleasure to be on the University of North Florida campus among so many great leaders and community partners. We are fortunate to have so many passionate, civic-minded people working hard to put Jacksonville first. And I want to give special thanks to Dr. Gary Bowers, our Environmental Protection Board chair. His leadership has helped Jacksonville edge ever-closer to be a first-tier city of best practices. I understand today’s symposium will be Dr. Bowers’ last as chairman. Let’s have a round of applause for his service. Jacksonville is a gorgeous city. We can see that in every park, in every piece of open land and along every stretch of river. It is always a great day here. We are blessed with natural treasures that are meant to be enjoyed. This symposium is a great chance for us all to get together and to reflect on the importance of everything we have. And it’s a chance for us all to talk about how we can continue to work as partners in Jacksonville’s future. That’s why I continue to support the River Accord. I’m proud of everyone who plays a role in that great partnership to keep the St. Johns River healthy. My administration is not as much about you and me; it’s about our kids and grandkids. We have a duty to support our river. Not just as public servants, but as citizens. Our river draws visitors, supports our economy and creates breathtaking views to define our city. The St. Johns isn’t just a treasure. It’s part of us. It is part of our heritage and it will remain part of our lifestyle. That’s why it was an honor for me last March to join more than 1,000 volunteers at the annual St. Johns River Celebration cleanup.
  2. 2. We removed an estimated nine tons of garbage and debris. It is energizing to see so many people willing to answer the call to action for a healthier, more sustainable Jacksonville. One of my favorite quotes comes from Dr. Bernice King: “There is tremendous power when people come together around an issue that is clear, a cause that is just and a purpose that is righteous.” The future of any city depends greatly on natural resources. My administration is working hard to cut the city’s carbon footprint. It’s not just good for the environment. It makes good business sense. My administration is projected to save $600,000 this year on fuel because we’re keeping a closer eye on the city fleet. We’ve also benefited from a federal grant that’s helped bring on more fuel-efficient vehicles. We’re retrofitting lighting and bidding out for a utility management system that will allow us to better track energy use and pinpoint problem areas. Our electric bill costs roughly $13 million a year. The goal is to reduce that cost through smart, sustainable policy. And we are also building new public-private partnerships to promote healthy lifestyles and increase our standard of living. We have an agreement with the Sierra Club and the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association to improve trail access at our parks. We’re also working with the National Parks Service and a number of other groups to improve access to the St. Johns for kayakers and small watercraft. We enjoy having nearly 35,000 acres of public parks in Jacksonville. It’s one of the biggest systems in America and my goal is to make it one of the best. This is important to me, not only as mayor but as a father who is raising two boys. Our parks need to be safe, enjoyable areas for families and hard-working taxpayers. That’s why we all need to keep the dialogue open and the ideas flowing. We need to continue asking how we can do better – and how we can help one another. It’s why we need to continue supporting the River Accord and the State of the River Report. You have a mayor who is committed. It’s no secret that we are in challenging budget times. It’s also no secret that a healthy, sustainable city will be a stronger selling point to companies looking to grow jobs here. So let’s continue to work as a team. Let’s get out there and build new partnerships to take all of our potential and turn it into the vibrant reality for our future. Thank you and God bless you for your hard work. And may God bless our city.