JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- For decades, Stockton Street residents have enjoyed sidewalks that are at least four feet wide and made of special cut stones.
Last month things changed, much to their chagrin.
"I don't like it," said Freddie Demmons.
Demmons said in December, he received a knock from a JEA representative.
"They said 'the lights will be off about an hour.' That was it," he said.
When they left the neighborhood, he was stunned by what he saw.
"They placed the new electric poles in the middle of the sidewalk," said Demmons, "I don't like it."
The affected area is in Councilman Warren Jones' district.
"I was surprised," said Jones.
The JEA, improving its infrastructure, moved the electric poles from the curb to what is almost the center of the sidewalk.
"It is disruptive to the neighborhood and it is certainly unattractive," said Jones.
Jones met with the JEA and said the utility is within its use of the public easement, but he is still not pleased with the decision.
"I wouldn't want to see this happen to any other neighborhood," he said.
JEA spokesperson Gerri Boyce said the location of the new electric poles meets guidelines;
1) The sidewalks must have a clearance of three feet, ADA standards, wide enough for a wheelchair to pass
2) The poles are four feet from the roadway per state transportation standards.
"They're saying because of lawsuits the poles, have to be four feet from the curb," said Jones.
Boyce said this is one of several improvements and while each location is evaluated independent of each other, the location of an electric pole will meet the guidelines.
Councilman Jones is now considering legislation to make sure whatever the JEA does also considers the aesthetic of the community.
First Coast News