The USS Adams is one step closer to the banks of the St. Johns River.
In a 16-1 vote, the Jacksonville City Council agreed Wednesday to the Jacksonville Historic Ship Association’s lease agreement and handed over control of the operation to the Downtown Investment Authority.
“The DIA went to the City Council and said, this is one of our first big projects and we want you to give us permission to move along with it,” said Joe Snowberger, commodore of the ship association.
The lone dissenting vote was Councilman Richard Clark.
Council voted last year to allow the USS Adams to come to Jacksonville as a maritime museum and be moored at the Northbank shipyards by the Maxwell House plant, which is sitting vacant. Wednesday’s vote hands the reigns to the DIA for its most substantial project to date.
Snowberger credited the DIA for being a semi-governmental agency that is actually helpful.
“Andra Wallace, Oliver Barakat and their team are awesome,” he said.
Of course, the association also needed some help from city council.
“Councilman Bill Bishop has led the parade,” he said. “But last night I was amazed at the support and Councilman (Johnny) Gaffney had an extremely eloquent speech.”
Snowberger said he believes the Navy will turn over the ship to the association in six months at the latest. The group can then move forward with refurbishment.
If all goes according to plan, the Adams should be sitting proudly on the St. Johns River before 2015 is out.
“Last night was the community declaring it wants the Adams in downtown Jacksonville,” he said. “Now we can formally tell the Navy we have a home and they can work faster on getting us the ship.
Clifford Davis: (904) 359-4103