A Darn Good Place to Live

Forbes Magazine has named Jacksonville the 3rd cleanest city in these United States. 

Downtown 5

Several Florida cities made the top 10, including Miami, Orlando, and Tampa.  But good ol’ Jacksonville, once known as “that smelly city you drive through on I-95 on the way to someplace else”, is the 3rd cleanest city in the country.  Forbes describes their methodology this way.

“To determine the cleanest major cities in the U.S., we initially measured the rankings for air pollution and ozone levels among all 49 U.S. metro areas with populations exceeding 1 million, using data from the American Lung Association. After eliminating those areas that ranked poorest in air quality, we measured the remaining 29 cities on the additional but less-weighted factors of water quality and per-capita spending on Superfund site cleanup and solid-waste management. From this list, we drew our top 10.”

What makes that last criterion particularly interesting is that the EPA and the city just announced a major cleanup of several former ash dumps on the North and West sides of the city.  Back in the ’50’s the city ran several municipal incinerators for burning household waste.  With little expectation that anyone would complain, they spread the ash in various dumps in the “less affluent” areas of town.  One of the first stories I covered when I came to Jacksonville was a town meeting with the EPA in one of those neighborhoods.  I don’t think I have the story any longer, but I’ll check my archives.

I don’t know when they did the calculation for per-capita spending on Superfund site cleanup, but if it was before that announcement, we might now be up to #2.

Downtown 8

When the sky is a clear blue and the temperature isn’t oppressively hot, it is a very pretty city.  But I probably wouldn’t have guessed #3 behind Miami and Seattle.

I’ve been to both Miami and Seattle, and I can see the latter on the list, but not so much the former, exteriors on “CSI Miami” not withstanding.  And Miami was actually #1.  Seattle’s green, lush, temperate rainforest is a beautiful place when it’s not raining.  The good news is, that’s actually far more often the the city’s reputation.  I recall one trip for a Public Radio Conference, I was standing down along the waterfront taking in the view on a beautiful day.  I remarked to someone who had ridden up on a bicycle that it wasn’t the weather I expected.  He told me not to tell anyone, but it was really nice far more often than the cold, dreary, constant rain the city is famous for.  But I guess you know now.

The other somewhat surprising element to this “clean city” designation is the condition of the waterways.  Not trying to be a naysayer, but having spent the last several  years reporting on water quality issues, and a couple of hours last Saturday picking up trash along the river, I’m not convinced our river and its tributaries warrant that designation.  But apparently that was one of the lesser-weighted criteria. 

Every time I see something like this, it makes me feel better about my choice of a place to live.  Not all the news is good.  My sister told me of a report that experts don’t expect the real estate market here to recover for 2 or 3 more years, but I’m a bit more optimistic than that.  I am glad to see pretty much anything that portrays our city favorably in a national forum.  We deserve a second, and third look from people who want to live in Florida, but don’t want the pace of Miami, the tourists of Orlando, the kitsch of Daytona, or Gods Waiting Room down in Naples.  We’ve been called Florida’s best-kept secret.  Maybe that’s also beginning to change.



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Filed under Beach Living, Conservation, Environment, Jacksonville, Pollution, Thoughts

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