St. Augustine city leaders ask for more information before approving plans to bring back iconic carousel

The St. Augustine City Commission met Monday to discuss a plan to bring an iconic carousel that was dismantled in Davenport Park back to the area.

It’s been nearly five years since the J & S Carousel was up and running at the park at San Marco and San Carlos avenues, next to the St. Johns County Public Library.

The proposal is getting closer to approval. J.W. Brinkley presented renderings to the commission, but commissioners wanted a site plan from Brinkley as well as a safety plan and a few other items before approving the plans.

“I understand they have an obligation to the public,” Brinkley said. “We are doing everything exactly the way the other carousel was, the only difference is we’re going to improve that whole area.”

Before the carousel was dismantled and moved in 2019 following the death of its owner, the iconic J & S Carousel was a well-known, charming city staple for generations.

If the city commission signs off on a proposed lease for a new carousel, renderings filed with the city indicate what the “Old Town Merry-go-Round” might look like.

According to the proposed lease, the carousel would be open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. And if this proposed lease is approved at the meeting Monday, the paperwork says it would go into effect the next day and remain in effect for three years. From there, it would continue to renew itself every few years.

Cathy Pettigrew is a frequent St. Augustine visitor but wasn’t familiar with the previous carousel.

“I don’t even know where Davenport Park is but sure, why not bring it back if somebody wants to bring it back? You know it’s going to add to the city, why not,” Pettigrew said.

According to the proposed lease, the carousel would be open for business seven days a week, from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Amanda and Jacob Kerr are visiting on their honeymoon from Port St. Lucie. Amanda likes the idea of the carousel making a comeback.

“I’m excited. I think it’s romantic, and I believe it will give the city some character and something really fun and nice to do,” Kerr said.

Brinkley said once the carousel gets approval, he’ll legally set up enough money to maintain it for multiple generations because bringing back the carousel was a promise he made to his dearly departed wife.

“My wife recently died five months ago to ovarian cancer. She loved children and one of the things she said is [to] make it happen because that’s something that will be here 25 years from now after I’m gone,” he said.

Brinkley hopes to have everything the city is asking for at the next commission meeting, which is scheduled for Feb. 12.

To see the full carousel presentation, go to City Commission Meeting • City of St. Augustine Meeting Agenda Portal • CivicClerk.

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