JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – New details about a potential University of Florida satellite campus in the works for Jacksonville are slowly emerging weeks after it was first announced.
During a JEA board meeting Tuesday, News4JAX learned the utility sent a letter to the university saying it is happy to be part of the plan. It intends to support the campus and offered services worth $10 million.
In the letter, JEA said it is pushing for the campus to be built near the water plant located along 1st Street in Springfield, but nothing is set in stone as of Wednesday. However, JEA will provide UF with $10 million in services regardless of where the campus ends up.
“What we said in the letter is that we will perform services in kind, and we provide for each customer water, electric chilled water, some work on site in that particular case, some work along the Greenway that goes on that property. So that’s part of what we want to support which will then also have income that will come back to us from the buildings that are built eventually the increase in the number of people who will work here, that’s how we drive and support economic development, says JEA- Chief Jay Stowe.
One of the items on the Jacksonville City Council’s agenda Tuesday night was a public hearing to give people a chance to voice their opinions on a bill that would authorize a $20 million grant to the university to begin planning the campus.
No one spoke directly on the topic, and one reason may be that information about the plan just isn’t out there. It is a project that pleases the city’s leaders, but public information is still in short supply.
The mayor’s office and a representative from UF met several council members one on one on Wednesday and councilor Matt Carlucci was one of them.
“They need to catch up and start telling people what it’s all about,” Carlucci told News4JAX. “And that’s what my meeting was about today. And that’s why I agreed to talk to you today, to give you the information. The campus will be the center and there will be 2000 plus students. They will offer master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Florida, in health care, financial technology.”
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There are still many questions to be answered, but the biggest one is where the campus will be located. The mayor’s office will continue to meet with council members one-on-one, but some council members want a workshop so many more of their questions can be answered.
One place the campus won’t go is in West Palm Beach, at least for now.
More than a year after UF announced a new satellite campus in West Palm Beach, the school announced Tuesday that it is putting the campus on hold, citing “community divisions.”
“Given some regrettable divisions in the local community, the University of Florida is halting debate about a possible West Palm Beach campus. As Florida’s flagship university and a land-grant institution, UF is committed to being a unifying presence throughout the state and does not want to divide communities we want to serve. The university has an obligation to the public to take another look at any possible university campus in South Florida. Discussions about the feasibility of a West Palm Beach project will now be folded into our larger, six-month strategic review of UF’s programmatic priorities and opportunities”, wrote UF in a statement.
WPTV reported that issues between the school and local developer Jeff Greene stemmed from 5 acres he was supposed to donate to the project.
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