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City says dispute over Southbank Riverwalk has project on shaky ground

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Updated: 6/22/2013 12:17 am
JACKSONVILLE Fla.-- Bradley Terry walks, runs and nearly trips along the south bank’s decaying wooden river walk every day.

"It's easy to trip on and hurt yourself you know in the rain it's very, very slick, so I see people having problems with it on a regular basis," he said.

Perry says he's counting down the days until August when the city plans to tear up all the wood and replace it with concrete like the North Bank.

But now, the $17 million project is on shaky ground. The city says one business, The Crown Plaza Hotel, is standing in the way.
 
“We can't change it to a concrete structure unless the hotel agrees,” said Mayor’s Office spokesperson, David DeCamp.

DeCamp says the hotel also wants to charge taxpayers $15,000 for every day the city goes over the two-week timeline.

"We really don't want taxpayers to pay a penalty for going one or two days over,” said DeCamp.

For now, the city has a plan B; replace the section behind the Crown Plaza with wood.

Action News asked managers at the hotel about their concerns, but nobody was available for comment.

Southbank businesses, like the River City Brewing company say they understand where the hotel is coming from.

“Anytime there's construction it really impedes traffic into businesses so I can see the concerns they have at The Crown Plaza,” said Bernard Santiago, manager of the River City Brewing Company.

But Perry and others sick of the sinking wooden walkway see it differently.

"It’s the price of progress,” said Perry.

The City says it still hops to come to a compromise with The Crowne Plaza before they break ground so they can make the section behind the hotel concrete like the rest of the new south bank river walk.

The entire river walk replacement project is expected to take one year.

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