Fare Free Fridays on the Island Hopper

Council on Aging
Press Release
Melanie Ferreira
Communications & Mkt
June 24, 2017 1:00 p.m.

If you haven’t ridden the Island Hopper yet, now’s your chance to do it – for free!

Every Friday, beginning June 30 and running through September 29, the Island Hopper will be offering “Fare Free Fridays” when passengers can hop aboard anywhere on the route, and as many times as they want, without paying the $1 boarding fee.

Nassau TRANSIT’s Island Hopper bus service is regularly-scheduled public transportation running a loop around the northern half of Amelia Island Thursday through Monday from10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., as well as on holidays. The ride only costs $1 per boarding – except on Fare Free Fridays!

The IslandHopper departs from Fernandina Beach City Hall at 10 a.m. and makes a loop down Atlantic Avenue to Main Beach, then south on Fletcher Avenue before heading east on Sadler Road and back along 14th Street to City Hall. Each loop takes about an hour. Passengers can also simply wave the Island Hopper down along its route, and the bus will make half-mile deviations from its standard route as well. A map of the route can be found at nassautransit.org/island-hopper and on rack cards distributed
to local hotels, inns, restaurants, merchants, at the Amelia Island Visitors Center, and at each of the Island Hopper’s eight bus stops.

So, this summer, why not let the Island Hopper chauffeur you around the island in air conditioned comfort, and ride for free every Friday from June 30 to September29!

For more, call NassauTRANSIT at 904.261.0701.

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Thar she blows: the high cost of marina work

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
June 23, 2017 5:46 p.m.


A million here … a million there … Before you know it, we are talking real money.

Lynn Williams, Fernandina Beach waterfront activist and Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND) Commissioner, addressed the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) during their June 20, 2017 Regular Meeting with his take on projects (and costs) currently underway or anticipated at the city marina. Williams spoke during Public Comment on Items Not on the Agenda. As the heading on his slide indicated, the figures he presented are his, not presented in any official capacity:

The first project, resulting from effects of Hurricane Matthew, is the replacement of the attenuator dock estimated at $6-7M. He also quoted a cost for moving the marina northward at more than $2M. He quoted ATM estimates for realigning the existing marina basin at $763K. The final project is expansion of the existing mooring field: $250K.

He did not include future dredging costs in his figures or anticipated profits from the new, expanded attenuator and mooring field.

The total cost of all the projects Williams enumerated is approximately $11M, of which he claims $7.5M of which is reimbursable through FEMA and other grants. This leaves $3.7M for the city to fund. Williams said, “We will work to get grants, but it is something we don’t have funded at the moment. But certainly, if we do go through with these projects, we will have a marina that operates well with a good return on investment—better than normal. Boat traffic in Florida is way up. This is something that we really need to do, and if we were to borrow that non-reimbursable expense we would have $258K debt service and it would pay for itself.”

Commissioner John Miller asked how sure he was that the reimbursable money would be forthcoming. Williams replied that while the City Manager was closer to the subject of FEMA grants, he believed that the city is close to obtaining BIGP grants. As a FIND Commissioner he is involved in those grant decisions. Vice Mayor Len Kreger urged caution in assuming grants would be funded.

For those who may have wondered what BIGP stands for, Williams explained that it is an acronym for a federal grant program open only to facilities that handle boats over 26 feet in length: Boating Infrastructure Grant Program.

Editor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.

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Parks & Rec to re-bid audiovisual equipment

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
June 23, 2017 4:47 p.m.


What initially looked like a matter of routine business turned into anything but that at the June 20, 2017 Regular Meeting of the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC). Commissioners were asked to approve an award of bid to purchase and install audiovisual equipment at the Atlantic and Peck Auditoriums in the amount of $33,388. After considerable discussion and apparent lack of satisfactory answers from city staff, commissioners voted 4-1 to reject all bids and direct Parks and Recreation Department to rebid the project. The only commissioner who did not support the vote was Roy Smith, who wanted to make a different motion.

In explaining the item, City Attorney Tammi Bach said that the city had received a bid protest on the award.

The Invitation to Bid (ITB) stated:

“Work consists of the design and installation of new audiovisual equipment at 2500 Atlantic Avenue, 516 South 10th Street and an alternate bid for 1200 Elm Street. Installation of the new A/V equipment will upgrade the amenities offered at our rental locations and allow for renters to provide quality presentations and performances.”[Emphasis added.]

Minimum specifications were listed for the Atlantic Avenue Recreation Center and the Peck Center.

Two (2) bids were received and opened on May 11, 2017. The lowest bid received was from CCS Presentations with a base price of $32,756.59. After review of the bids, researching the components and checking references, staff recommended K&W Audio Visual based on the bid criteria and the City’s Code which references in Sec. 2-428(f)(1) factors to be considered such as efficiency of the bidder and quality of references. The difference in the bids is $631.41.

The price did not include the alternate bid for the MLK Center on Elm Street.

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Grisham’s Camino Island Looks and Sounds Like Amelia

By Anne H. Oman
June 23, 2017 10:00 a.m.

The chief villain of the piece, a slick and super-smooth operator named Bruce Cable, moves to a Florida beach on “a ten-mile long barrier strip just north of Jacksonville.” The road along the beach is “lined with a mix of old and new rentals, budget motels, fine new homes, condos, and an occasional bed-and- breakfast” and “every eighth of a mile there was a small parking lot and boardwalk for public beach access.” And to the south were the big hotels, including the Ritz “sitting beside high-rise condos and the more exclusive residential enclaves.” Dog walkers, shell seekers and Turtle Watch volunteers comb the beach. There’s “a small airport for chartered jets.” The historic main island town features grand Victorian homes “built by turn-of-the-century railroad magnates and shippers and doctors and politicians” and “streets shaded with ancient oaks and Spanish moss.” There’s a Saturday farmers’ market, a Cuban deli, a fudge and ice cream emporium, a popular coffee shop, a café with a shaded courtyard, a harborside restaurant, and the oldest bar is called “the Pirate’s Saloon.”

Does all this sound familiar? Welcome to Camino Island, John Grisham’s latest automatic bestseller, and a thinly disguised Amelia Island.

So why the fake name?

That and other questions emailed to Mr. Grisham through his publisher drew only an automated, form-letter type response. But in a review of the book in The New York Times, Janet Maslin wrote that “Grisham and his wife, Renee, dreamed up the idea for “Camino Continue reading

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Weekly comments from Dale Martin

Dale Martin
City Manager
Fernandina Beach
June 23, 2017 1:00 a.m.

City Manager Dale Martin

An issue for consideration in next year’s budget is the City’s solid waste collection contract. The City’s current provider, Advanced Disposal, has served the City for several years. While, in general, the current pricing is apparently in line with market prices, the fact that the contract has not been competitively bid for many years has led the City Commission to solicit new proposals. The current agreement with Advanced Disposal Services Stateline LLC, as codified by City of Fernandina Beach Ordinance 2012-12 (which amended Ordinance 2008-14) expires on June 30, 2018.

The City intends to commence the process with a City Commission workshop on August 15. At this workshop, issues related to solid waste collection and the specifications of the proposed terms will be considered. Several issues have already been developed for review by Mr. Jeremiah Glisson (Fleet/Facilities Director; coordinates solid waste collection Continue reading

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14th & Lime project before the Army Corps of Engineers for permitting

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
June 22, 2017 3:51 p.m.


At the June 20, 2017 Regular Meeting of the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC),  resident Dr. Ronald J. “Chip” Ross informed commissioners and the community of a pending application before the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) for a proposed mixed use (residential and commercial)  project located at 14th and Lime Streets in Fernandina Beach. The Fernandina Observer has covered this project extensively during many public meetings and mediation which ultimately led to the Fernandina Beach City Commission’s approval of the project.

Property at 14th and Lime

The project which has been submitted for approval by Spurgeon Richardson on behalf of Liberty Development must also be permitted by the Army Corps of Engineers. Public notice is provided below:

More details on the application may be obtained by visiting http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Public-Notices/Article/1216796/saj-1995-03715-sp-mre/

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The smell of money.

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
June 22, 2017 1:43 p.m.


Newcomers and visitors to Nassau County and Fernandina Beach are not always aware of much about our two local mills other than their smokestacks occasional occasionally emit whiffs of unusual, chemical based odors. When they ask locals about the smell, they are often told with a smile, “Why, that’s the smell of money.” And the locals are spot on.

Source: Nassau County Economic Development Board

A study produced by the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in late 2016 provided an in-depth view of the value and contributions to the local and regional economy of the mills. The 26-page sponsored project report, entitled Economic Impacts of Rayonier Advanced Materials and WestRock Forest Product Manufacturing Operations in Fernandina Beach, Florida, is available in its entirety on the web at http://nassaufloridastudy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Economic-Impacts-of-Rayonier-and-WestRock.pdf .

The report presents the combined results of an economic impact analysis completed for both companies. The analysis considered annual operating revenues, direct employment, and capital improvement expenditures during 2013-15. Rayonier Advanced Materials had direct employment of 340 fulltime equivalent jobs, and capital improvements valued at $48.6 million during 2013-2015. WestRock directly employed 869 persons in the linerboard mill and box plant operations, and made capital improvements valued at $48.0 million during 2013-2015.

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Fernandina Beach bans outdoor animal tethering

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
June 22, 2017 12:46 p.m.


In a move supported by animal advocates and local officials alike, the Fernandina Beach City Commission enacted Ordinance 2017-17 on second and final reading at their June 20, 2017 Regular Meeting. The ordinance prohibits outdoor tethering or restraint of dogs and cats. Commissioner John Miller and the Fernandina Beach Animal Rescue asked that this Ordinance be considered by the City Commission to avoid cruelty to dogs and cats.

The ordinance amended language in Section 18-4 of existing city code, which limited the time an animal could be tethered. That language rendered enforcement very difficult because it only allowed Animal Control to cite an owner if their animal was tethered for ten or more hours in a 24 hour period. The revised language stipulates:

Unlawful restraint of dogs and cats. No person shall tether, fasten, chain, tie, or restrain a dog or cat, or cause a dog or cat to be tethered, fastened, chained, tied, or restrained, to a dog house, tree, fence, or any other stationary object.

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Local effort responds to polarized world

Compassionate Fernandina
Press Release
Submitted by Donna Paz-Kaufman
Contact: Peggie Weeks

June 22, 2017 11:30 a.m.

Mayor Robin Letnz presents proclamation to Compassionate Fernandina “one of more than 340 cities around the world with initiatives to promote civility and respect.”

On Tuesday, June 20th, the Fernandina Beach City Commissioners endorsed the Charter for Compassion, becoming one of more than 340 cities around the world with initiatives to promote civility and respect. The Charter for Compassion was launched in 2008 to encourage and inspire communities to respond in positive ways to a deeply troubled and polarized world. The Proclamation was presented on behalf of the Fernandina Beach City Commission by Mayor Robin Lentz.

Compassionate Fernandina was launched in 2015 by Dr. Tom Washburn and Jane Holzcamp to acknowledge Fernandina’s already strong network of non-profit organizations and community volunteers and to officially designate Fernandina as a “Compassionate City” with the goal of engaging each member of the community in making the place we live and the world in general a better place.

The international Charter for Compassion states, “Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.”

Individuals may read the Charter for Compassion and affirm its principles online at CharterForCompassion.org. The site also features the 2008 TED Prize presentation by renowned scholar Karen Armstrong, founder of the Charter for Compassion.
(please use link: https://www.charterforcompassion.org/charter/charter-overvew )

Peggie Weeks, president of Compassionate Fernandina, stated, “We are so pleased that the City of Fernandina Beach has endorsed the international Charter for Compassion, committed to making it a standard practice to treat all others as each of us wishes to be treated: with kindness and dignity.” She added, “Simple acts of kindness and civility can transform our world when we each make a commitment to living with compassion when we’re person-to-person, online, or in public forums.”

Compassionate Fernandina is a 501(c) 3 organization. For more information, visit Com-passionateFernandina.org or write CompassionateFernandina@gmail.com.

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FBCC awards airport construction bid to F&G Construction

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
June 22, 2017 9:40 a.m.

Ground level views of airport welcome center concept

After years of discussion and debate, the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) at their June 20, 2017 Regular Meeting approved the award for construction of the General Aviation Terminal Building Project at the Municipal Airport to F&G Construction. But not unanimously. Commissioner Roy Smith voted in opposition.

Most of the half hour devoted to this item reflected a back-and-forth between Smith and Andrew Holesko of Passero Associates, the city’s airport consultant. Despite previous approvals and buy-in from committees and the FBCC over several years, Smith declined to support the design concept, citing the high costs associated with the unique design, among other issues.

The next step will be an intensive review of the F&G proposal to find additional savings. Passero Associates will also work with F&G to resolve the price issues associated with the proposed tail section of the building.

Although the award of contract was approved 4-1, F&G has not been given the green light to begin work. Once Passero Associates completes value engineering and true costs have been determined, a financing package will be developed and come before the FBCC for approval.

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