As city workers worked diligently Friday to rid local storm drains of the assorted flotsam and jetsam from recent flooding, the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce's new skyline project began its first steps toward fruition.
Flood cleanup, incidentally, was fairly involved Friday and included the removal of a severely damaged tree from the city cemetery. At least half a dozen workers, a back hoe operator and assorted dump trucks were involved, City Manager Mo Raissi said.
Closer to Commerce Street, implementation began in earnest on this skyline project, which the Jacksonville Daily Progress first reported about in October.
Imagine permanent event lighting shimmering from a downtown Jacksonville skyline silhouette. Activated at dusk each evening by satellite remote control, each business would run the lights off a small transformer.
Much like modern Texas cities such as Fort Worth, the skyline could be customized to spotlight different city events – such as pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, blue and gold for football game nights, and, of course, red for Tomato Fest.
The beginning implementation work took place outdoors during some of the same rainy days that contributed to city flood cleanup.
This bold new downtown visual idea comes from the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce. It was put into play around Oct. 15, when Austin Gwartney of Gwartney Enterprises met with downtown business owners to discuss modifying the skyline.
Gwartney proposed trimming each building along Commerce Street with LED lighting from Sadler's to the Tomato Bowl. This arrangement would remain in place year-round, he told the business owners.
Many factors were still in play on Friday and no final tally of participants had yet been carved in stone, according to reports. But Chamber of Commerce officials hope to have 100 percent participation from all downtown area businesses by Nov. 14, the day skyline lights will be activated in unison.
This will be followed by the by the Nov. 16 “Christmas On Commerce” event, officials said.
Support for the skyline idea stems largely from the positive reception to Gwartney's Oct. 15 presentation. Donations are being sought to help light empty buildings or businesses.
As far as costs are concerned, occupants of each building would be collectively responsible for their own lights, at the cost of approximately $7 per square foot per year, according to what Gwartney explained last month
He offered design, parts and labor services “at cost” in support of the city. His company is expected to be responsible for the professional installation, three-year maintenance and troubleshooting for the lights.