Stop the Development of St. Augustine's Historic Mission Grounds

To Bishop Felipe J. Estevez

Bishop of St. Augustine

We are presenting this petition to express our opposition to the proposed development at Mission Nombre de Dios in St. Augustine, particularly, the amphitheater and parking garage.

The project, as described so far, is unacceptable to the community at large. That community includes many who are parishioners and members of the Archdiocese.

 

--The current plans would be destructive on so many levels and further a trend the city has been fighting for some time now: The disappearance of St. Augustine's unique character and its quality of life. We value the presence of the mission and see it as an asset to the city. We appreciate its historic and aesthetic significance. But the size and scale of the development as currently proposed is inappropriate and, to be frank, represents blatant disrespect for our quality of life and our rights as citizens. The mission has been a good neighbor for many years. Residents are confused by this sudden turn.

 

--San Marco Avenue is already far past its capacity to handle traffic. FDOT has rated San Marco "F" in terms of overloading and congestion. Residents are often trapped in their neighborhood and struggle to get out. The proposed development of the mission grounds will make our situation untenable and this is a fundamental quality-of-life issue. The addition of a 1200 seat amphitheater will worsen this situation immeasurably. Hundreds of cars filing on to San Marco on their way into and out of the proposed parking garage would make things far worse than they are now.

 

--Church representatives have talked about the sanctity of the mission grounds and of its historic significance. But their words are contradicted by the jarring nature of this project and the intent behind it. We believe it is disrespectful to the landscape, to the past, and to the residents. A good neighbor will consider the concerns of those who live next to him.

 

--The amphitheater and its nine-foot berm will obstruct the view that has long been treasured by residents and visitors alike. Residents of Pine Street, which runs directly adjacent to the mission grounds, will have this practically in their front yards, which will likely destroy property values and could possibly begin an exodus from that neighborhood. The same goes for those of us who live on Ocean Ave., who will suddenly be looking at a three-story parking garage directly in front of our houses.

 

--Sound amplification from events will be disruptive. We don't believe there are any acoustical tricks that can assure the residents of Pine St. and surrounding areas peace and quiet.

Further, it is clear that this development is for the outsider—pilgrims arriving in buses—and is detrimental to those of us who live here. Further, this has harmed community relations with the Church, which we all would like to see repaired. 

 

--We are asking you to consider alternatives to the current plan. We are asking you to consider a smaller scale—a design that preserves the natural, serene space that currently exists. Consider working with us to devise a plan that is good for the landscape, for the community, and the Church. There is a great deal of talent, creativity, and altruism in the community. Why not take advantage of it to come up with a solution that is good for everyone involved?  We are willing to work with you.

 

--We have invested our lives in our homes and in our neighborhoods. We have far more at stake in this than the Church does and we are asking you to reconsider your plans for the mission grounds. We urge you to step back and reconsider the plans you have devised. 

 

 

 

Update #12 months ago
Thanks to all of you who signed the petition and particularly for your compelling expressions of why you oppose the development of the Mission Grounds of St. Augustine. We have learned that the Church has withdrawn their request to rezone the land for commercial use. The parking garage apparently has been scrapped. They still want to create some kind of outdoor venue, though the details are unclear. We will be monitoring developments and will keep you posted. This is good news!
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