Homeowners in Jacksonville’s Ortega neighborhood have been plagued by derelict vessels on local rivers. That may end soon.
HB 417, filed by first-term Jacksonville Republican Rep. Wyman Duggan, would end a long standing and frustrating practice: vessels lingering in the Ortega and Cedar Rivers.
At issue: “several vessels, maybe a dozen … creating problems for residents, boaters, and the city,” Duggan told Florida Politics Monday.
These boats create a variety of issues. Boat owners often don’t take their vessels to the marina to pump out waste, creating sewage discharges. Generators on the boats where some live hum into the night. And of course, hazards to navigation abound.
And these are best case scenarios for these boats.
Some vessels left in the water have sunk. Duggan identified two of them, and the city of Jacksonville would have to spend $20,000 to $30,000 to remove them.
The worst of the action: water between the Ortega River Bridge and the Stinson Drawbridge.
A local homeowner reached out to Duggan to alert him to the issue. Additionally, there have been community meetings, with the Florida Wildlife Commission engaged.
Jacksonville City Council members Randy DeFoor and Al Ferraro also demonstrated interest, as did Rep. Cord Byrd, Duggan said.
Meetings were held to “hash out jurisdictional enforcement,” and while the city has jurisdiction, it is within the parameters of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s guidelines, if reimbursement is sought.
Among those parameters: the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol is the appropriate vehicle for removal of problem vessels.
The city’s parks department, however, would not qualify.
Duggan stressed the importance of taking action while the vessel is still afloat. Costs can be a tenth of the $20,000 to 30,000 threshold for removing a sunk ship.
To that end, the Representative seeks to add this “mooring limitation area” to existing statute regarding “densely populated urban areas, which have narrow state waterways, residential docking facilities, and significant recreational boating traffic.”