Temporary Travel Office Title

Ash Site Annex

Select from the images below for more information on specific sites within the Annex.

Overview Map of Annex in Relation to the Preserve Map of Ash Site at 5th and Cleveland Streets Street view of Ash Site at 5th and Cleveland Streets, visible during construction in 2007
Brown's Dump Map Brown's Dump Burke and Cherokee Street Ash Site
Burke and Cherokee Street Ash Site Doeboy Dump Site Forest Street Incinerator Site
Forest Street Incinerator Site Forest Street Incinerator Site Forest Street Incinerator Site
Pope Place and Gold Merit Ash Site Pope Place and Gold Merit Ash Site

History's Dump Site

...it's not three sites, it's not four sites, it's one giant site. They're going to be finding additional ash, after they clean it up, for years to come. There is a serious problem with the ash all over this town.

- Dr. Kevin Pegg, Technical Assistance Advisor to the North Riverside Community Association, speaking at an August 10, 2005 US EPA public meeting at Emmett Reed Center in Jacksonville, FL.

Several miles West of the current Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve is a land rich with pre-colonial, colonial, modern and contemporary histories - histories that intersect with the stories of heroic conquests and tragic losses portrayed within the Preserve’s 46,000 acres. In Downtown’s Hemming Square, for example, one can find historic markers celebrating indigenous (and later, colonial) trade routes, the founding of Jacksonville itself (historically known as Cowford), and the civil rights struggles of the 1960s.

The proposed Ash Site Annex (ASA) to the Preserve introduces yet another series of narratives hitherto considered outside of its historic and ecological scope, yet closely linked by geography, history and a sense of environmental awareness. The ASA takes a cue from the Preserve’s celebration of the “Timucuan Indian” cultures of Northeast Florida - referred to as “People of the Shell Mounds.” This nickname is derived from the vast amounts of shellfish remains they left along the river we call the St. Johns. The Timucua were extinct by the middle of the 18th century - two hundred years of colonial wars and introduced disease effectively decimated the tens of thousands that existed at the time of European contact. As the National Park Service states:
The lesson to be learned from the existence and disappearance of the Timucuan people is that in a clash of cultures ultimately one group, no matter how advanced or well established, may vanish.

In essence, the ASA asks: If Jacksonville’s current residents were to vanish, what kinds of stories would we be found in our trash? What kinds of mounds would we be the “People of”? And, what kind of “clash of cultures” would be found?
We will jump ahead from colonial conquest to the late 1920s to begin to answer these questions. Between 1928-1929, the administration of then Jacksonville Mayor John T. Alsop decided that the city would be divided into six districts, and that they should “locate colored districts adjacent to incinerators.” Incineration, or burning, was an attractive method for dealing with the growing mounds of solid waste following in the wake of industry-led developments of disposable products and packaging.

Rediscovered in the early to mid 1990s by the Florida Dept of Enviro Protection (FDEP), the Jax Ash Site boundaries contain 3 separate sites known to be waste incinerators and dumps that were used by the City of Jacksonville from the late 19th century into the 1960s. The US Enviro Protection Agency (EPA), after investigations into the site's condition placed all 3 sites under federal jurisdiction, but did not register them as National Priority List Superfund sites.
There are 6 other ash-related contaminated sites in the vicinity of the Jax Ash Sites, under the responsibilities of the FDEP and the US EPA. This makes 9 ash-related sites in the same general vicinity of Northwest Jacksonville, adding up to more than 321 acres of ash contaminated land.
Of those 9 sites, 3 are near or within city parks and 2 had public schools that were closed in the last 5 years or less following community outcries and some media coverage. As is common across the US, these contaminated sites rest under communities that are predominantly African-American and economically depressed.

These incinerators burned all manner of solid waste, producing ash containing lead, arsenic, dioxin, PCBs, mercury, and pesticide compounds. This ash material became airborne, drifting in, and beyond, the mostly African-American neighborhoods where the incineration occurred. During the 1950s and 1960s, Jacksonville’s incinerators were shut down, but as we will see, they continue to impact many lives.

Why Implement An Ash Site Annex

The Travel Office's vision of the Ash Site Annex is predicated on the concept of "environmental preservation districts" and "environmental reparations" put forth by environmental justice scholars Robin Morris Collin and Robert Collin. Being that the Preserve is not a singularly managed park, but is a collaboration between the National Park Service and "partnership areas" (including the State of Florida, the City of Jacksonville and the Nature Conservancy), the annex does not require handing ownership over to the NPS or any other entity. As the Collins suggest, environmental preservation districts" could function in a similar manner as historic preservation districts, but rather than creating laws to regulate the aesthetics of homes, laws would be used to preserve community and ecological health. This would a step towards "an alternative methodology articulating a new model for historic preservation" called for by scholar Angel David Nieves.

Incinerators, like the one that operated for 20 years on Forest Street (see map below), produced ash containing lead, arsenic, dioxin and heavy metals such as mercury. This ash is extremely dangerous when human and animal contact is possible. The Forest Park Head Start School, located on the property of the former incinerator and dump site, closed late in 2005.

Read more about the historic development of solid waste incinerators in Jacksonville and beyond >>

Map of the Forest Park Incinerator Site