Red Cross logos to be removed from lifeguard station
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According to the agreement, the Red Cross will donate the building to the city to be used for ocean rescue, life guarding services and related water-safety training

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — The Jacksonville Beach Lifeguard station will be donated to Jacksonville Beach City, which means big changes for the face of the building.

The agreement was approved during a City Council meeting Monday and comes after months of back and forth between the city and the Volunteer Life Savings Corps who used the building for lifeguard services.

To many Jacksonville Beach goers, the lifeguard is a historic part of Jacksonville Beach.

“I’m out here all the time, this is an iconic staple to the beach it’s the first thing you notice when you drive by, and I love it,” said Joseph Taylor, a local business owner.

From 1914 to 2015 the Red Cross operated a volunteer life-saving corps from the facility. But in 2015, the volunteer life-saving corps became its own organization

This matters because in the original deed, the city gifted the property to the Red Cross on the condition it was to be returned once the organization stopped using the facility.

“The VLSC and the City of Jacksonville Beach were certainly still operating life savings services out of the building but the American Red Cross was not. So we worked with the America Red Cross, we filed a quiet claim and then we worked on this settlement together,” said Chris Hoffman, Mayor for the City of Jacksonville Beach.

The agreement states that; “The parties desire to settle and resolve their dispute, without and admission regarding the validity of the other party’s claim to ownership”.

According to the agreement, the Red Cross will donate the building to the city to be used for ocean rescue, life guarding services and related water-safety training activities. All red cross logos will be removed and the city must build a memorial designating it as an historical site. The city must all continue to negotiate with the volunteer life-saving corps.

The city of Jacksonville Beach has been in negotiations with the VLSC since 2021 when the US Department of Labor fined the city for allowing Ocean Rescue lifeguards to volunteer without pay.

On March 9, 2022, the city sent a 9-month notice to the Volunteer Life Savings Corps (VLSC) about the end of the agreement. Less than a month later, on April 5, the City of Jacksonville Beach sent another notice to the volunteers that their service would be terminated immediately due to “disruptive behavior”.  

The city also barred VLSC from access to the Station by changing the locks on the building.

The Volunteer Life Saving Corps took legal action April 14 when they filed a lawsuit against the City of Jacksonville Beach for allegedly breaching contract by locking them out of the lifeguard station. The lawsuit is seeking damages and declaratory relief for an amount in excess of $30,000.

That lawsuit is still open.

Charles Bond the past president of the Volunteer Life Saving Corps issued this statement about the facility’s donation, 

“The City of Jacksonville Beach and the American Red Cross reached an agreement. Under that agreement, the City is required to work with the VLSC in good faith to allow the VLSC to continue using the Station for volunteer lifeguarding services, water safety training and other VLSC activities. The VLSC has scheduled an upcoming mediation with the City in hopes of resolving our use of the Station and our ongoing litigation. At this time, we remain hopeful that the City will work with us in good faith to resolve this matter and allow us to continue our community service and volunteer lifeguarding services from the Station as we’ve been doing for 100 years. Ensuring the VLSC’s continued use and access to the Station is critical to the future of our volunteer organization, and it honors the thousands of citizens of this community who donated their hard earned money for the maintenance of the Station as the VLSC’s base of lifeguarding operations.”

Mediation is schedule for March 6th and Mayor Hoffman is hopefully that the two organizations will come to an agreement.

“We plan to continue to use the building for our life saving services through Jacksonville Beach Ocean rescue and ultimately whenever we resolve things with the volunteer life-saving crop hopefully in partnership,” said Hoffman.

The closing is to take place on or before March 31, 2023. 

In no later than 30 days after closing, the red cross logos will be removed. The city shall no longer refer to the building using the American Red Cross name, but the new name has not been finalized at this time.

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