For this post I’m going to cut and post my favorite lines from Jim Bailey’s epic, powerful and profound letter to his fellow DIA board members:
- Each of us brings unique and different talents to the table, and all of us have experience and a commitment to making Jacksonville a great place to live. I want to encourage us to work to bring out the best in each other, and to create strong partnerships with others who are working to build a great Downtown.
- As we throw new things against the wall to see what will stick, I hope the DIA will take important steps to connect the dots that already exist.
- The DIA should establish an inviting process that encourages feedback and promotes participation from the community. People have ideas and we need to hear them. We need citizen input, citizen buy-in and citizen support. Jacksonville is loaded with smart and talented individuals.
- Despite the individual and collective efforts of these various mayors, organizations and individuals, Jacksonville still deals with the historic misnomer that Downtown:
- • is unsafe,
- • is not accommodating for visitors and
- • is a place where there is nothing to do.
- But, the facts put those notions to myth.
- Downtown is extremely accommodating as the home of first-class entertainment venues like the Times-Union Center for Performing Arts, Florida Theatre, Ritz Theatre, EverBank Field, Bragan Field and the Veterans Memorial Arena, along with two museums and the Downtown library. In fact, several hundred millions of dollars have been invested in Downtown in the past 15 years for new structures to draw people there.
- The biggest myth of all may be the idea that nothing happens in Downtown.
- An estimated 15 million people visit Downtown annually to attend concerts, football games and other sporting events, plays, and special events, and to dine in Downtown restaurants.
- Jacksonville’s biggest natural and commercial asset, the St. Johns River, runs through the heart of Downtown.
- In both perception and practicality, the mayor is the leader and principal change agent in Jacksonville, a very real intent and product of consolidation. As with any significant change, any journey of importance, the DIA’s success in large part depends on the willingness and the ability of the mayor to lead, and in doing so, to build a coalition of partners around the mission for change. That is most obviously true in affecting the change called for by the creation of the DIA. It’s evident from his own statements of commitment, that Mayor Brown is focused on making a difference in the development — and the image — of Downtown Jacksonville.