City Council proposes removing park benches

Published On: Dec 11 2012 11:05:10 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 12 2012 08:50:24 AM EST

A message from City Hall: Don't plan on staying all day. At least that's part of the message from 1 council member to deal with the problem of the homeless hanging out in Hemming Plaza. He's introducing a bill to remove seating and tables at the downtown park.


The hot topic at the Jacksonville City Council Tuesday night was the future of Hemming Plaza. The council introduced a bill that would remove seating and tables from the downtown park.

"No, it's not class warfare. We wouldn't have a problem with anybody in that park if they'd act decent, act right, wouldn't accost people, asking for money and handouts; and wouldn't be loud, vulgar and scare people. People are scared to go in there," said City Councilman Don Redmon.

Not everyone at Tuesday night's meeting agreed with Councilman Redmon.

"People are social beings, they need somewhere to socialize. A city is judged by how it treats the least of thee," said Eddie Diamond Jr. who opposes the bill.

Public comments didn’t last very long, but Eddie Diamond made sure he voiced his concern. Councilman Reginald Brown also spoke up during Tuesday night's meeting.

"Jacksonville has a habit of trying to cover up the ills of the city. We have to unveil the problems of the city, and deal with them directly ," said Brown. "It may be unappealing to have folks sitting out there, but you need to fix it. Don't try to move the problem from in front of the people who legislate the government in this city!”

Council members will meet with the Downtown Investment Authority Wednesday about Hemming Plaza. They hope to come up with ideas that address the concerns, without sweeping away the real issues. The meeting with DIA is scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday.