WUFT News

Palatka Residents Voice Concerns About New Riverfront Center

By on October 17th, 2013
Kha Lehuu addresses residents about the riverfront educational center on Tuesday night. Members of the advisory council, Mayor Vernon Myers and residents were present to discuss project concerns.

Jeanna Arroyo

Kha Lehuu addresses residents about the riverfront educational center on Tuesday night. Members of the advisory council, Mayor Vernon Myers and residents were present to discuss project concerns.

Palatka residents shared their concerns about the new riverfront educational center Tuesday night at a public meeting.

Representatives from Georgia-Pacific, Le-Huu Partners and Malone Design/Fabrication spoke to about 30 attendees, who included advisory council members and Mayor Vernon Myers, in the Price Martin Center behind the Chamber of Commerce.

The $1.2 million center, tentatively called the St. Johns River Wetlands Educational Center, is part of a contract between Georgia-Pacific and the City of Palatka, said Jonathan Griffith, the Palatka project manager and grants administrator.

While the center is not part of the riverfront redevelopment plans, which include new event areas, river taxis, docks and parking facilities, it does meet the city’s goal of having a “living shoreline” while driving traffic to the area, Griffith said after the meeting.

“We are somewhat achieving or exceeding our expectations in our master plan,” he said. “From a redevelopment perspective, obviously we try to maximize commercial land.”

Residents were mainly concerned with the design of the building blending with the existing downtown area, maintaining the character and history of the St. Johns River and with the curriculum guidelines presented by Terry Hadaway, a public affairs manager at Georgia-Pacific.

Hadaway advised those who attended the meeting to contact members of the advisory committee with their concerns so they could relay the information to Georgia-Pacific, Le-Huu Partners and Malone Design/Fabrication.

Some of those present questioned whether the lessons would be able to meet core science standards, focus on the local history of the river and whether it would benefit Georgia-Pacific.

Diana Latta, a science teacher at Palatka High School, said it is important to make sure the center addresses specific threats to the local wetlands like industrial pollution and fertilizer runoff.

Hadaway said the curriculum, which targets students from second to sixth grade, was only a guideline at this point and while the issue would be addressed, each unit of learning was not meant to be a full year’s worth of information.

The building will tentatively take up about 4,500 square feet of air-conditioned space and have a plaza area. It will also house a gift shop that will provide economic opportunities for the free admission center, said Kha Lehuu, the project’s architect.

The advisory council met beforehand to hear a presentation on the design process and context of the building. Council members also discussed the guiding principles of the project.

Some were concerned about the language used in the principles.

Robert Virnstein, of Seagrass Ecosystems Analysts, said the center should only be about science and should be careful not to portray any particular “point of view.”

Laura France, the director of elementary education for the Putnam County School Board, said the center would be an attractive option for local teachers for field trips, but she said she was concerned about the amount of space needed for a large group of students.

Meetings about the building and design are open to the public.

The advisory council, which was selected by Georgia-Pacific, includes members from different local groups like the Water Works Education Center, University of Florida, St. Johns River Water Management District, Ravine Gardens State Park and the Putnam County School Board.

Myers said the project would be a great asset to the community and thanked the council members for their participation.

“We look at this to be part of a revitalization effort of our riverfront and our entire downtown area,” Myers said. “It’s very important for us that this project be successful.”


About Jeanna Arroyo

Follow me @jdarroyo1266 on Twitter I'm a senior at the University of Florida. My major is journalism, with a concentration in photojournalism. I minored in art history, so ask me about Rococo.
This entry was posted in Environment and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Environment

Bert the bluff oak resides outside the Nuclear Science Center on the University of Florida campus. Plans to construct the Innovation Nexus Building in that area for the College of Engineering have gone through several variations in order to save him and four other heritage trees in the area.

For Trees Like Bert, Special Titles Do Not Always Guarantee Special Protections

The Florida Champion Tree Register recognizes the largest tree in the state of each noninvasive species. It’s the next step of recognition up from heritage tree status, like that of Bert, the bluff oak that has affected plans for the Innovation Nexus Building at UF.


Noaa Hurr Forecast 2015

NOAA: Inactive Season Likely, Officials Aren’t Swayed

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released a seasonal hurricane forecast. WUFT Meteorologist Marithza Calderon says it’s no surprise that they say we could be in for another inactive season.


Gulf Shores

Once Vilified, BP Now Getting Credit For Gulf Tourism Boom

The once vilified BP is now being commended for its efforts in helping to attract visitors back to the Gulf Coast. The oil company is spending more than $230 million in its efforts.


fruit drop

Citrus Greening Continues To Plague Florida Orange Groves

Described as one of the worst diseases to ever hit Florida orange groves, citrus greening is costing the state’s general fund $5.75 million. If the disease is not curbed it could be detrimental to Florida’s agriculture and economy.


Tri-State Group Unanimously Backs Plan For River System

Fifty-six people from Florida, Georgia and Alabama unanimously approved of a new sustainable water management plan. They issued their recommendations even as Florida sues Georgia, with Florida’s government arguing that too much water is being siphoned off upstream.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments