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Office of the Mayor
City of Jacksonville
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
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
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
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,
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
Thank you and God bless you for your hard work. And may God bless our city.