December 20, 2021 6:00am

Jacksonville power players skeptical about high rankings of city by Outdoor Magazine

Many welcome the good news, but note there's a lot of work to do in improving Jacksonville.

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By Drew Dixon
Jacksonville, FL Correspondent

Jacksonville’s movers and shakers are a bit skeptical of a recent report in Outdoor Magazine that named Jacksonville as one of the top 20 cities to live in.

Our December Power Poll of civic and business leaders shows many of Jacksonville’s elite are not sure what to make of the assessment.

The publication placed Jacksonville on its highly coveted “20 Most Livable Towns” list this year based on a multitude of criteria. And in October, the magazine’s writers analyzed 13 cities to see what qualified them as “cities of tomorrow.”

Jacksonville, Outdoor Magazine said, received high praise for its increasing availability of parkland, though writers noted, “just 35 percent of residents are within a ten-minute walk of those areas.”

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But the report also noted Jacksonville is in the beginning phases of developing the “Emerald Trail.” That’s a walking and bike path that will involve 30 miles of access throughout the city that will include environmental vistas in many urban areas. It also noted our beach access as a major attribute.

When asked what they made of Jacksonville being praised for its livability and parklands, 55% of respondents said they had a mixed reaction and they know Jacksonville has some cool stuff but the ranking might be incomplete. Another 35% said they were not surprised at all by the rankings and still another 10% said they were surprised by the ranking because they didn’t realize Jacksonville had so many praiseworthy attributes.

When asked what they thought of Jacksonville being ranked a “city of tomorrow,” respondents were more robust in agreeing with Outdoor Magazine. Some 60% said it’s an affirmation of Jacksonville’s continued growth and expansion. Another 40% said Jacksonville has a lot to fix before it can get to a futuristic city designation.

The magazine also noted that Jacksonville’s parkland and future development of outdoor areas as the city’s greatest asset. Respondents were split on that assessment as 45% said they agreed with the characterization and another 40% said the magazine’s perspective is on the right path but it may be jumping the gun a bit. Still another 15% said it’s really hard to access those areas.

Each question had the option of “not sure/no opinion.” Power players were decidedly clear in this poll as no one selected that option for any question.

December's Power Poll was conducted via email between Dec. 13 and Dec. 16. Some 255 surveys were emailed with 20 respondents or a 7.84% response rate.

This is Drew Dixon and thanks for taking part in December’s Power Poll. Keep an eye out in January when we will turn our attention and get feedback about the turmoil in the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL organization after the firing of head coach Urban Meyer.

About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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