Slavin to pitch emerald necklace of parks to county

EDWARD A SLAVIN JRSince November 13, 2006, residents of St. Augustine and St. Johns County have heard Global Wrap’s technical officer and local activist Edward A. Slavin, Jr., harp on the importance of federal management of public lands in our area — Tuesday morning, he’ll make another pitch.

Slavin, who has referred to the project over the years by some variations of the “St. Augustine National Historical Park, Seashore and Coastal Parkway”, describes the nationalization of the collection of private, city, county and state owned lands as an “emerald necklace of parks”. He is notorious for always getting in a mention for his dream during three-minutes of public comment at any government meeting; regardless of the topic being discussed.

Slavin recently addressed the St. Johns County Legislative Delegation with his idea.

Subsequent to that meeting, according to County Administrator Michael Wanchick, members of the Delegation approached the Chair asking if Saint Johns County had a position on this issue.

When the St. Johns County Board of Commissioners meets Tuesday morning, Slavin will be introducing his report, supplemented with a guest column that appeared in the now-defunct St. Augustine Underground, a proposed resolution by the Board, and a six-page proposed congressional bill enacting provisions for the St. Augustine National Historical Park, Seashore and Scenic Coastal Parkway Act.

According to the agenda item, Mr. Slavin states that a Congressional Act establishing The St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore will help protect our history and nature forever.

“It would provide funding for preservation of St. Augustine buildings and for the University of Florida’s educational efforts, while creating pollution-free “green” jobs and protecting 61 miles of beaches in two counties, and more than 130,000 acres of land that is currently owned by our state and St. Johns River Water Management District, along with our County beaches,” Slavin submits.

Under Slavin’s proposal, among many other details, once the land is transferred to the Federal Government and a St. Augustine National Civil Rights Museum is completed, the draft Park legislation contemplates that the keys will be turned over to the National Park Service. Slavin suggests that the Department of Interior will run it as they do Atlanta Civil Rights historic sites associated with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Not everyone who is aware of the proposal supports it.

In a communication received by Historic City News this morning from the St. Johns County Tea Party, they respond to Slavin’s remarks in the January guest column where he said, “The time has come to bring out the big guns,” by saying, “Kill this proposal, put a silver bullet between its eyes and drive a wooden stake through its heart.”

In a call for the community to rise up against Slavin’s proposal and to attend Tuesday’s meeting, the St. Johns County Tea Party said the legislation would have private property seized and turned over to the federal government — including the entire St. Johns River, which is the single largest source of water for all of Central and Northern Florida.

They went on to say, “It would render all local governments impotent to the jurisdiction of an “appointed board” of governors.” In their view, “At its most absurd implementation, you would have to park your cars and cede title to your property if the Secretary of the Interior deemed it was in the best interest of the National Park.”

If you are planning to attend — the regular St. Johns County Board of County Commission meeting will begin at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday and will be held in the St. Johns County Auditorium located at 500 San Sebastian View in St. Augustine. It will be broadcast live on Comcast Government TV (Cable Channel 3) and is streamed over the Internet.

Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News staff photographer

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