FBCC Discussion Part II: City Marina debt

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
November 9, 2019

Sometimes the most interesting discussions occur at the end of Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) meetings.  Such was the case at the November 5, 2019 Regular FBCC Meeting, which did not adjourn until 9:50 p.m.  This article is the second of two covering discussions that occurred at the end of that meeting concerning the waterfront and the marina.

City Marina during recent reconstruction

With the indulgence of Commissioner Mike Lednovich, Commissioner Chip Ross moved on to his second discussion point at the end of the November 5, 2019 Regular Meeting:  the city marina.

Commissioner Chip Ross

After reading the marina’s mission statement, Ross briefly explained the purpose of an enterprise fund, of which the marina is one.  He cited government accounting standards that apply to enterprise funds.  In so doing, he attempted to explain why the marina debt is secured solely by a pledge of the marina’s net revenues from its fees and charges.  He said that the marina’s costs of providing services, including capital costs and debt are to be paid with fees and charges, rather than with taxes or similar revenues. The marina debt is also secured by the full faith and credit of the City. 

Ross cited the approximate marina debt after anticipated FEMA payments as $7,100,000.   He claimed that to eliminate the debt and bring the fund into compliance with enterprise fund requirements, annual payments to the Marina Enterprise Fund must be made from non-tax payer revenue as provided below:
• if amortized over 10 years – approximately $1,000,000 / year
• if amortized over 20 years – approximately $500,000 / year 

Later in the meeting, City Manager Dale Martin said that Ross’ figures were too low and the  $12-15M repayment was more realistic.

Ross said that for a clear understanding of marina debt as well as the marina’s expenses and revenue opportunities, there needs to be a better understanding of what property is included with the marina, and what is not.  Certain assets and operations would seem obvious, such as docks, the boat ramp and the mooring field, fueling and pump out operations. Continue reading

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Taco Pope elected to Board of Directors for Florida Regional Community Institute

Nassau County
Press Release
November 11, 2019

Nassau County, Florida, November 8, 2019 –Assistant County Manager, Taco Pope, AICP [American Institute of Certified Planners], has been elected to serve on the Board of Directors for the Northeast Florida Regional Community Institute (RCI). The Northeast Florida RCI is a non-profit think-tank aimed at addressing policy issues and challenges faced by the Region. Examples include managing growth, preserving valuable eco-systems, improving economic viability, and maintaining the quality of life in Northeast Florida. The RCI was created to address these challenges as a non-profit policy organization under the Northeast Florida Regional Council (NEFRC).

Taco Pope stated, “Many of the challenges facing Nassau County are the same challenges
facing our neighbors in the Region. Collaborating with solution-oriented people from across Northeast Florida has the potential to produce outcomes that improve the lives of Nassau County residents. I look forward to the opportunity and I am optimistic that through the shared pursuit of a common good, we can strengthen our communities and improve our quality of life”.

For additional information regarding the Northeast Florida Board of Directors, please contact Margo Moehring at (904) 279-0880 ext. 161 or [email protected]

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Nassau Humane Society’s Second Chance to feature “Veterans Day Salute” 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Nassau Humane Society
Press Release
November 11, 2019


Cdr. Kate Warren Giffin with one of the D-Day displays that will be exhibited Monday as part of a Veterans Day salute at the Second Chance resale store

A free Veterans Day salute will feature educational displays on military history, the armed services and much more.

The displays will be set up from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday at the Nassau Humane Society’s Second Chance resale store. Commander Kate Warren Giffin, a retired Navy nurse, organizes the salute to veterans annually.
There are tributes to military women, African-American service members, Native Americans’ military service, and the U.S. Merchant Marine. Befitting a salute from a Humane Society, there’s also a display honoring military working dogs.
The salute includes articles, photographs and artwork, books, vintage magazine covers, and personal memorabilia from veterans and their families, including uniforms and medals. Cmdr. Giffin will be at the store throughout the day to provide background and answer questions.

New this year will be displays covering D-Day. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Continue reading

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Thank you to America’s Veterans

November 11, 2019

On November 11, Americans observe Veterans Day.  Originally it was called Armistice Day to mark the end of World War I: “the war that would end all wars.”  Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect.  The day was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.

President Woodrow Wilson, on the first anniversary of the Armistice, delivered an Address to the Nation in which he said:

“Out of this victory there arose new possibilities of political freedom and economic concert. The war showed us the strength of great nations acting together for high purposes, and the victory of arms foretells the enduring conquests which can be made in peace when nations act justly and in furtherance of the common interests of men.

“To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations.”

Twenty years later Americans found themselves once again preparing for war.  World War II was then followed by conflicts in Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East.  While the locations and the enemies have changed from conflict to conflict, one constant remains:  America’s reliance on the patriotism, dedication and selflessness of those willing to take up arms to defend her.

Let us resolve to prove ourselves worthy of our Veterans’ sacrifices.  The poem below is the Fernandina Observer’s message of thanks to America’s Veterans.

Unselfishly, you left your fathers and your mothers,
You left behind your sisters and your brothers.
Leaving your beloved children and wives,
You put on hold, your dreams-your lives. 

On foreign soil, you found yourself planted
To fight for those whose freedom you granted.
Without your sacrifice, their cause would be lost
 But you carried onward, no matter the cost. 

Many horrors you had endured and seen.
Many faces had haunted your dreams.
You cheered as your enemies littered the ground;
You cried as your brothers fell all around. 

When it was over, you all came back home,
Some were left with memories to face all alone;
Some found themselves in the company of friends
 As their crosses cast shadows across the land. 

Those who survived were forever scarred
Emotionally, physically, permanently marred.
Those who did not now sleep eternally
 ‘Neath the ground they had given their lives to keep free. 

With a hand upon my heart, I feel
The pride and respect; my reverence is revealed
In the tears that now stream down my upturned face
As our flag waves above you, in her glory and grace.
Freedom was the gift that you unselfishly gave
Pain and death was the price that you ultimately paid.

Every day, I give my utmost admiration
To those who had fought to defend our nation.

~ Author Unknown ~

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FBCC Discussion Part I: Alachua Street, Front Street and Waterfront Park

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
November 10, 2019

Sometimes the most interesting discussions occur at the end of Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) meetings.  Such was the case at the November 5, 2019 Regular FBCC Meeting, which did not adjourn until 9:50 p.m.  This article is the first of two covering discussions that occurred at the end of that meeting concerning the waterfront and the marina.

Commissioner Mike Lednovich

Commissioner Mike Lednovich began discussing waterfront park development along the Amelia River by posting a social media comment in which the writer questioned what appeared to be “momentum building in the City Commission to build along the waterfront.”  The writer continued, “Our waterfront is a special feature of our fair city.  It certainly needs some loving care and the idea of planned park features seems to make a lot of sense.  But more and bigger buildings blocking our river & marsh views seem to fly in the face of preservation and the charm of Fernandina.”  

“When I read this stuff on social media, I like to provide facts,” Lednovich said.  “I know that Commissioner [Chip] Ross has prepared a slide show to do just that, so I will turn my time over to him.”  Lednovich clarified that he had not discussed this with Ross, but had seen his presentation in the packet that accompanies the meeting agenda.

Ross presentation

Commissioner Chip Ross

Using a series of 13 slides, Ross walked commissioners through his understanding of the challenges the city must meet to accomplish its goal of a safe, interconnected, ADA accessible and pedestrian oriented waterfront.  He expressed his belief that the city first needed to decide how to handle the opening of the Alachua Rail crossing:  whether it should be pedestrian only, or also include one-way (either west or east) or two-way traffic.  He also said that the commissioners needed to decide whether pedestrian traffic should be channeled to fence openings on either side of the railroad tracks or whether the rail tracks should be upgraded by replacing ties and rock with more attractive concrete and bricks to allow for open pedestrian access across the tracks. Continue reading

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