Guest column: Separating the city

Dear Editor:

The St. George Street area, including contiguous street segments, Visitor Information Center, Historic Downtown Parking Facility, Castillo de San Marcos, and the proposed Visitor Interpretation Center, are all being separated from the rest of the city.

This separation is implemented through the City’s involvement in the University of Florida Strategic Plan for the State properties, the Fort’s General Management Plan, and the city’s historic signs program.

The U of F plan proposes closing the eastern end of Orange Street. This change removes the connection between Cordova Street and Avenida Menendez. The plan also proposes closing the St. George Street segment located between the Government House and the Plaza. These improvements separate North City from the remaining city.

The U of F plan recommends eliminating parking west and south of the Fort on both sides of Avenida Menendez. (There are a few existing parking spaces in this area.)

The plan further recommends removal of all the Fort’s parking except for buses and handicapped spaces.

The plan locates the proposed Visitor Interpretation Center on the Beck property south of the new Pirate Museum on the west side of Avenida Menendez.

The Castillo’s General Management Plan preferred alternatives eliminate some, but not all, parking in the existing Castillo parking lot. Both plans eliminate existing parking in favor of the Historic Downtown Parking Facility.

The plan also locates the proposed Visitor Interpretation Center south of the New Pirate Museum on the Beck Property.

The city has reinforced the removal process by surrounding the roads serving the city with historic signs directing traffic to the Historic Downtown Parking Facility.

These plans and program direct traffic to the Historic Downtown Parking Facility which triggers a circular motion. Visitors exit the parking facility and then enter the Visitor Information Center. This movement then initiates a circular interaction among the proposed Visitor Interpretation Center, Spanish Quarter, St. George Street area, and the Fort. The result is to isolate visitors and specific facilities from the remaining areas of the city.

The City Commission, at a regular meeting, rejected the recommendation that the above plans and program be shown on a geographic information systems map.

Don Heine
St. Augustine

Don Heine is a candidate for Mayor of St. Augustine. He says that fiscal responsibility is one of his highest priorities. He considers himself a conservative, and in this economy, Heine says, he would like to look at ways to bring locals back to downtown businesses and develop the means to accomplish that.

Photo credit: © 2010 Historic City News staff photographer

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