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HomeNassau CountyFernandina BeachFather of FB City Marina's Ideas on a Waterfront Park

Father of FB City Marina’s Ideas on a Waterfront Park

Bob Allison Tells Us How to Make it Happen ...

Club 14 Fitness
 

Opinion

By Bob Allison, 3-25-23

(above) From my 2017 Report….new boat ramp location in yellow… proposed new bulkhead location in green creating enough new land for large landscaped downtown waterfront park.  Using Nassau County’s Property Appraiser Mike Hickox’s valuation of $70. per sq. ft. for downtown property, the new City-owned property for the waterfront park shown above will be valued at $10.5 million.  This is a gift the City can easily give to itself.

HOW THE CITY CAN HAVE A DOWNTOWN WATERFRONT PARK

Don’t believe those who say the City of Fernandina Beach cannot obtain regulatory permits to have a downtown waterfront park.  I applied for and received more than a dozen permits from state and federal regulatory agencies to build Fernandina Harbor Marina and at least another twenty five permits to build other projects in Nassau County. These include permits for docks, lakes, bridges, piers, marine structures, storm water management systems and new county roadways.  Most of the folks who say the city cannot acquire permits to have a public park on its downtown waterfront have no real life experience of ever applying for or being issued a permit for anything. When I read their authoritative know-it-all pronouncements in local media on what the City can and cannot do on its waterfront, I find myself chuckling over their willingness to present themselves as absolute experts on something they really know nothing about.  These folks are attempting to bolster their own personal opinions of themselves as experts on all things.  They are not advancing the interests of the City of Fernandina Beach, its citizens or its taxpayers.

For any new public park to be built on the City’s downtown waterfront a three person majority of the Fernandina Beach City Commissioners must first agree on a plan.  They will have had to permanently abandoned the notion that the decision-making on this can once again be turned over to some newly appointed local advisory committee or some new group of out of town consultants. Previous Commissions have gone down these two paths at least nine times over the last twenty years.  They end up being a waste of everyone’s time and another additional pointless waste of public funds.

The next step is for the City to determine how much new usable land can be permitted to be built on the City’s waterfront.  The responses from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation to permit applications for new bulkhead locations will answer this important question.  Does it cost a fortune to get this answer?  No, it does not. Permit applications proposing to relocate the bulkheads at the marina can likely be organized for less than $15,000.  Because these applications will be critically important to the city’s future, they need to be presented to the regulatory agencies by a respected and credentialed professional marine engineer.  My opinion is that ATM Engineering, the City’s adopted marina consulting firm, should not be involved in this process.

Mayor Bean needs to make a few phone calls to other elected leaders to schedule face-to- face meetings with either himself or his knowledgeable emissary.  This group should include the Governor, both U.S. Senators, our State Senator, and the City’s Representatives in both the U.S. and State House of Representatives.  The purpose of these meetings is to inform these officials of the desire of the citizens of Fernandina Beach to make changes to their downtown property. It should be made clear the City is not asking for money. It is asking for support to build a new downtown public waterfront park and to evidence their support for the new park, a simple letter from each of them on their official government stationery is needed.

A cover letter is normally attached to applications for permits that are filed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Environmental Protection.  The method I am sharing here provides for there to be copies of six other letters to be included with the applications.  These will be letters from Governor Ron DeSantis, Senators Rubio, Scott and Yarborough and Representatives Bean and Black.  If you don’t believe permits requested by the City using this method will be promptly approved and granted then you really don’t understand how our government actually works.  This is how I obtained the permits required to build Fernandina Harbor Marina. These permits were considered by many to be impossible to obtain. The most important letters of support I obtained were from U.S. Senator Lawton Chiles and U.S. Congressman Charles Bennett.  The important point here is the City of Fernandina Beach has powerful friends who will be eager to help the City with any new plan to lift itself up and to be counted as one of the most successful and exciting municipal waterfronts in the nation. This once in a generation opportunity is completely invisible to some current local officials.  It doesn’t have to be invisible to you.

If you want the City to have a downtown waterfront park, encourage City Commissioners to develop and adopt a common sense plan for the City’s entire waterfront.  Use the regulatory permitting process to determine how much new land the City can actually have on its valuable waterfront on which to build all kinds of important improvements. Be excited about the future of downtown.  Anyone who believes the City of Fernandina Beach will be denied having a gorgeous public park on its downtown waterfront by state and federal regulatory agencies is mistaken.  

Click to read Mr. Allison’s downloadable, printable PDF COMMON SENSE WATERFRONT PLAN

Previous Bob Allison city marina articles: 


Bob Allison, a resident of Fernandina Beach, is the father of the Fernandina Beach City Marina


The views expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal Florida.

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