MAYPORT, Fla. -- More than fifty people came to Mayport Sunday evening to celebrate a milestone as the Mayport ferry will continue operating thanks to the work of a group of people who lobbied the city, raised money and came together to make sure this part of history would not end.
Members of the Save the Ferry Task Force took the last ride on the ferry Sunday night, celebrating the fact that the key to the ferry was ceremoniously turned over to John Crescembini , chairman of the new st Johns River Ferry Commission which will now operate the ferry, instead of JAXPORT.
It was a grass roots effort to keep the ferry afloat.
"The significance of it is that it would have closed forever, tonight if we had let it happen it would have closed forever.,and we would not have the tourism, the eco-tourism, the jobs, the economic developement we are going to have in the future because we saved it," said Elaine Brown, the chairman of the task force.
The new commission has raised rates on the ferry to improve revenue. JAXPORT is contributing $200,000, the mayor contributed $100,000 in his budget and the city council added $100,000. The commission believes it has enough to run it for a year and then hopes to continue beyond that. They hope to convince the state DOT to contribute capital funds. They hope to apply for grants to fix the slips, which need repairs in 2-3 years and it could cost more than 6 million dollars.
Julie Bhatia, who lives in St. Johns County, took a ride on the ferry with her family after dinner in Mayport , so happy the ferry will continue. She went north to Heckscher Drive despite living to the south. She wanted to let her child experience the ferry.
"I am tickled to death, the ferry is a part of history in this area of our state, it is huge, it connects A1A...it is a big marker on our historical trail throughout the First Coast and down into Florida."
Crewman B.J.j Hart is the spirit of the ferry, always entertaining the ferry passengers, happy to still be going back and forth in Mayport.
"They saved A1A, it's wonderful, my hat goes off to the people,and I still got a job, ha ha ha!
First Coast News