GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Food Truck Friday’s initial foray into hosting the monthly gathering at Spring Park was deemed a success by organizers and city council members at Tuesday’s council meeting.
The event’s popularity has swelled since it began in April. Planning and Zoning board member Ed Gaw, who organizes the event, said about 1,500 people attended the Food Truck Friday in early October and nearly a dozen food trucks served residents.
At the Oct. 2 council meeting, Food Truck Friday was moved to Spring Park to accommodate renovations at the historic Clay Theatre. Gaw said council members have hit a home run with the event, but there needs to be serious discussion about how to handle the growth for the Nov. 16 event.
“For the next event in November, I legitimately expect an increase in the number of people attending, so in order to not become a victim of its own success, a certain amount of planning is going to be involved,” Gaw said.
Though Spring Park holds a few events per year drawing upwards of 9,000 people, Gaw said parking was at maximum capacity for October’s Food Truck Friday.
“The park is such an asset,” Gaw said.
Mayor Connie Butler said dealing with Food Truck Friday’s growth was a good issue to have. Other council members also praised the event.
“I heard nothing but very positive comments,” Council Member Mitch Timberlake said.
“It’s wonderful highlighting the city the way you have,” said Council Member Pam Lewis, addressing Gaw.
Five Green Cove Springs Police Department officers oversaw security, particularly that alcohol was kept to a restricted area. Council Member Van Royal said he hoped Food Truck Friday’s alcohol policy was not a precedent for future events to expect regularly serving alcohol at the park.
“The rules are what the rules are, and we need to make sure everybody understands that this is event is once a month,” Royal said. “We can’t always have five officers in the park.”
In other business, council members approved medium residential zoning and land use for “Cottages on Cove,” a proposed development in the city. The first reading was passed unanimously in September.
RaeLynn Homes plans for a maximum of 11 homes, with a minimum size of 1,200 square foot houses built upon 5,000 square foot lots. The property, at 915 Bay St., is bordered by Tucker Street to the east, Cove Street to south and the CSX railway line to the west near the Green Cove Springs Police Department building.
Resident Gerard Casale, also a member of Clay County’s Historic Preservation Board, expressed concern over an old house on the property. Casale said the house could possibly be renovated into a duplex or kept as a visual reminder of the neighborhood’s past. He recommended a requirement for future construction projects to consider the practical use for historical homes.
“Sitting on that property is a historic house,” Casale told council members. “Certainly, it didn’t seem to be in the most tremendously maintained state, but at the time, it seemed like it had the potential to have the main structure of the exterior preserved, therefore perhaps serve as a marker for the neighborhood.”
Timberlake said the city walked a fine line when it came to the owner’s private property rights.
“It is inappropriate, I think of this council, to tell them they can’t do something with their property. If there is this groundswell of support for preserving these buildings, buying them and restoring them, let’s do it,” Timberlake said. “But at the same time, we have to be careful not to tell people who have property, ‘No, you can’t get fair value out of your property.”
Council member Steven Kelley said it was important to recognize the value of older structures, but the development was a common-sense investment for the area.
“I do think this property was a huge challenge for somebody to come in, preserve and renovate,” Kelley said. “I am sensitive to the fact we need more clean, affordable, ready to move-in housing for young families.”