Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
May 21, 2015 1:24 p.m.

waterslide2During the public input portion of the May 19, 2015 Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) Regular Meeting, Kevin J. Lilly approached the city about support and permission to run an inflatable waterslide at Main Beach starting as soon as possible and running through the Labor Day weekend and possibly beyond.

The item had not been placed on the agenda because Lilly did not bring it to the City Manager’s attention until this past Friday. It generally takes two weeks for an item to reach an FBCC agenda.

Kevin Lilly seeks permission to erect inflatable waterslide at Main Beach
Kevin Lilly seeks permission to erect inflatable waterslide at Main Beach

Lilly delivered a brief presentation during which he said that the slide would be the same type as the one that operated last summer at Main Beach. It would be 36 feet high at the highest point. His pricing structure for Nassau County family passes, which Commissioner Pat Gass questioned, provided the lowest rates for westernmost areas of the county and the most costly rates for Fernandina Beach. Lilly said that was based on the expectation that local passes would have more value because they would be used more intensively than those at a greater distance from Main Beach.

Lilly emphasized that his slide would be locally owned and operated and that there would be no associated commercial operation, such as rentals of beach chairs or equipment. He said that based upon last year’s experience, he believed the slide would be popular among families and as summer camp activities. He said that Nan Voit and Jay Robertson of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department have supported his proposal.

Commissioners balked at taking action on Lilly’s request, since the item had not appeared on the meeting agenda and previous discussion concerning a waterslide at the beach had generated much controversy among the public.

2 options to locate proposed waterslide
2 options to locate proposed waterslide

Mayor Ed Boner advised Lilly that typically a request such as his is first vetted by the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee, and that the FBCC considers their recommendation before making a decision. Commissioner Tim Poynter said that his discomfort with the matter had to do with the short notice being provided to the FBCC. “I don’t know when you hatched the plan,” he said, “but you called me last Friday night. I said to you, ‘I hear everything that you are saying, but my problem is that it hasn’t been [publicly] noticed [as a topic for tonight’s meeting].” He said that because of the controversy among members of the public when the last consideration of a waterslide proposal came up, “It would almost seem to the community that the FBCC was pulling a fast one by deciding to move on this tonight. So I am not going to give you a level of confidence to proceed with purchasing this slide tonight because it has not been vetted by the community. … There are some people who have heartburn over this thing.” Poynter added, “I understand your rush to get this done, but we denied the last proposal quite a while ago. You had time to bring it before this commission then, 4 months ago.”

“The idea was hatched the beginning of May,” Lilly said. “My daughter and I talked about it.”  This remark generated some laughter from the audience and commissioners.

Poynter replied, “Yes, but you didn’t bring it before this commission then.” Lilly agreed, adding that he has spoken to many people in the city about the idea.

Both Vice Mayor Johnny Miller and Commissioner Robin Lentz expressed general support for the idea. But Mayor Boner remained skeptical on the value of such a slide in light of other on-going marketing efforts to attract high-end tourist activities.

Lilly stressed that he needed to move quickly to set up for the coming season.   Commissioners agreed to place the item on the June 2 Regular Meeting agenda, but City Manager Joe Gerrity cautioned Lilly that placing the item on the agenda did not imply approval, so he should not move ahead with purchasing the slide at this time without considerable risk.

 

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Marlene Chapman
Marlene Chapman (@guest_35800)
7 years ago

Being at that meeting, our family found this man demanding and rude to the Commission and everyone in attendance. First, why would we do business with someone like this? Then, as Commissioner Gass questioned, why do the children of the Island pay more than those off island…Mr Lily stated the “use” factor. How any people will drive their children from Hilliard, Yuee, Callahan, etc for a $60 or $80 summer pass when after a few slides they are bored?! Give the people of the island the “price” factor and maybe you’ll get more to sign on? This was a poorly prepared presentation with little or no consideration of the people affected. Please rethink this slide proposal, at least until it is looked into a bit more.

John Hornsby
John Hornsby (@guest_35818)
7 years ago

It seems that their is always a need to increase tourism but never an easy approval process by our city. This man has a viable plan and a location for business and a precedent from last year’s slide operation. Regardless of what his prices are allow the public to make that decision. Kinda reminds me of a city that wants to stop a skydiving business from landing on a public beach by having the Police department putting pressure on the owner for a ridiculous threat of a nuisance violation.
Good luck sir in your business endeavor!

Lynda grant
Lynda grant (@guest_36083)
7 years ago
Reply to  John Hornsby

All proposals should go through the proper process to the commission. Why do some people think they should be an exception? Your skydiving proposal JH would work in many areas. I’d give it a try myself but dropping in on sliders needs rethinking.

tony crawford
tony crawford (@guest_35841)
7 years ago

After watching this presentation, I didn’t get the impressive that Mr Lilly was rude or demanding. I honestly got the impression he was getting frustrated with the process. I think we all understand that working within the City Government, any City Government, can be frustrating. I agree totally with what Marlene pointed out about the inequity of the proposed pricing. Why should anyone from the City which is allowing the use of their public property have to pay more? If anything locals should be given a discount. It just isn’t right that we should pay more than someone who comes in from another county, who uses our beaches and facilities, and doesn’t contribute a dime in tax dollars to support them. ——- once again—– If anything, locals should gets a discount.

It is our property after all, and we are allowing Mr Lilly to use it not only for the goods of the kids, but to also run it as a profitable business. I think the slide is a wonderful idea. I hope it works out for the kids as they need more recreational venues on the island, but please do not insult us by asking us to pay more. Simply put, that is just plain wrong and I hope that Mr Lilly understands this, corrects this and gets the Commissions approval.

Dave Lott
Dave Lott (@guest_35885)
7 years ago
Reply to  tony crawford

Agree with Tony and Marlene, quite a novel pricing concept. One that I would hope Disney would never adopt since they currently offer FL residents a discount over what those out-of-state visitors pay although there are generally all kinds of discount offers available.
As to being difficult to deal with the City, this appeared to be a last minute proposition “on the come” and there is the need to fully vett it.

tony crawford
tony crawford (@guest_35904)
7 years ago

Dave, couldn’t agree with you more. This is an issue that must be publicly discussed. I think this should have been presented long ago and not at the last minute. It looks like he received or misinterpreted information from other City employees. Hopefully he will come back, this will get discussed and a fair resolution can be reached.

John P. Megna
John P. Megna (@guest_35952)
7 years ago

It sounds like Mr. Lilly wasn’t doing enough research. Again, a poor presentation and pricing – should re-start his process. the first step would be take this to the Park/Recreation Department and the advisory board for their review. I believe that the issue could be okay with the right patience and approach. Dave and Tony had the best comments.

Marlene Chapman
Marlene Chapman (@guest_35968)
7 years ago

One more comment…..Mr Lily said that it would be an 80/20 split with the city….if the city is paying for the water and electric, shouldn’t that be taken into consideration regarding the split percentage amount? It seems as though this was a bit of a late decision….maybe next year with a bit more planning?

Steve Crounse
Steve Crounse (@guest_36049)
7 years ago

Hay Folks, The one Item that I’ve agreed with Ms. Gass No, number two, leaving the Baseball fields where they are. Number one was her comment last year , when discussing a plastic slide at our main beach ” Is’t that kinda Tacky” I’m still in that camp, If we want to bring a water slide back, spend the money, build a proper slide, have some of our local college kids manage it in the summer. Make it something Amelia Island can be proud of. Not an embarrassment, and eye sore to this community.

tony crawford
tony crawford (@guest_36086)
7 years ago

Steve, with all respect by the time the City plans it ,engineers it, vetts it, permits it, and find the funds to pay for it, both you and I will be a fond memory of the kids who would have used it, but now have outgrown it. You can be for or against it, not a problem, but at the end of the day it really isn’t about ” tacky ” or being an embarrassment. It about giving the kid something to do. I think the island can take the embarrassment of a water slide. Have we come to the point that we as an Island, and a tourist island at that, would be ashamed of a kids ride—–really?

Steve Crounse
Steve Crounse (@guest_36089)
7 years ago

Tony, I understand all of that, and I’m really not a snob. I do want the Kids to enjoy their time at the beach. Do you think, the kids can be at our Beaches and be bored?, I suggest that if that’s the case, they’d be bored anywhere. Back in the day, Circa, 1950’s- 1960’s we went to the Beach, because we could meet girls. the gals were there to meet guys. Has that changed? I hung out at Ft. Lauderdale, I don’t remember any water slide. or skate board park. Look, we have the skate thing, miniature golf, volley ball nets, at the beach. If this community wants a water slide, work towards it, and when the community has the funds, build a quality water slide. This Plastic embarrassment is what, 35ft tall? Tony, do you own one of the Houses or Condo’s in back of this thing? Someone, bought these places, because of the views. Would you like to look out your window each morning and see that thing? Really. It’s got as much class as a Blow-up Doll. We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. Most of the time were on the same page, not this one.

tony crawford
tony crawford (@guest_36097)
7 years ago

Steve, look you can knock a lot of things but please draw the line at “blow up dolls” as I am sure they are near and dear to many.
I understand what your saying, but in all honesty I think when kids become old enough to chase girls the last thing they want to do is slide down a water slide with a bunch of kids. Your right about the folks in the condo, but remember this is only up a few months, a permanent structure is just that –permanent. Realistically speaking we both have been around long enough to know a permanent water slide isn’t in the big picture here. Speaking of blow up dolls, what this town needs to snap it back into reality is a good Gentleman’s Club. Think of the letters that would generate and how much more entertaining the Commission meetings would be. Something as simple as a kids waterside would go right back to the back burner. Have a great Holiday and be safe

Steve Crounse
Steve Crounse (@guest_36159)
7 years ago

OK Tony, I’m not taking this conversation to the next level. The good folks at the FO will bar both of us from ever posting our comments again. You win, let embrace Mr. lilly’s ?????

tony crawford
tony crawford (@guest_36172)
7 years ago

Steve, no win or loose it should all be about compromise. Mr Lilly has his work cut out for him if he wants to get this whole thing off the ground before the next snow. I guess only time will tell. Great conversation with all concerned trying to navigate this slippery slope. Get it—slippery slope??

Ross Gass
Ross Gass (@guest_36238)
7 years ago

What a classic example of “our little piece of Heaven” operating at full tilt. So many Not In My BackYard-ers. Who knew Norman Rockwell painted so many impatient curmudgeons?
You’ve got the group mistaking passion for impatience (The guy wants to bring back something his kids loved. He’s had trouble navigating the proper city channels. he comes to the CC meeting, seemingly out of desperation, and gets his three minutes).
Then, you’ve got the nitpickers. So his pricing schedule wasn’t as well thought out as it could be. He wasn’t there to vet his pricing, he was there to see if there was interest enough from the commission to pursue the idea! The other guy’s idea got shot down because he wanted to expand and the slide was just him getting his foot in the door enough to expand into rentals. Mr. Lilly, a LOCAL RESIDENT and father of elementary school aged children wants to bring the slide back because his kids loved it. And I imagine he doesn’t want to loose his butt in the process.
Then you’ve got the “won’t someone think of the wealthy condo owners?!” crowd. My personal favorite bunch. I am much more interested in giving the youth something more to do than protecting someone’s property investment or ocean view.
And of course, the “Well back in my day, we didn’t need any fancy waterslides” group. Yeah, yeah. And you had to walk uphill both ways to school in snow 6 feet deep. Big whoop.
You all, and the commission, had ZERO constructive criticism for this full time resident, father of two, trying to do right by his kids. I could tell he wasn’t trying to get rich off the city, or pull a fast one; he just wanted to check and see if he could get any sort of consensus from the CC, to see if the thing will even pass muster before making a huge investment.
Sure he could have had a better presentation and a better pricing schedule. If anything i trust him more for his lack of polish. And having trouble dealing with the city staff? Say it ain’t so!!
I hope he doesn’t give up. And i hope some of the “all knowings” who so fervently peruse the FO will reach out to help him; so at least he gets a fair shot. Maybe ocean views tourism dollars are more important than the merriment of children, but I sure as hell hope not.

tony crawford
tony crawford (@guest_36253)
7 years ago

Ross, well said. I hope this works out for not Mr lilly, but for the Kids who will enjoy it.

Ross Gass
Ross Gass (@guest_36315)
7 years ago
Reply to  tony crawford

Thank you Mr. Crawford. However, it would appear that my comment wasn’t too very well said as someone has seen fit to delete it.
That’s unfortunate.

Co Editor
Editor
Co Editor(@co-editor-2)
7 years ago
Reply to  Ross Gass

Ross: If your comment was deleted, it was an accident. This has happened before (ask Tony Crawford). We delete a lot of spam and once in awhile, I’m too aggressive and delete comments that should not be deleted.

Will try to find your comment.

Ross Gass
Ross Gass (@guest_36321)
7 years ago
Reply to  Co Editor

both have reappeared. thank you for your diligence.

Steve Crounse
Steve Crounse (@guest_36298)
7 years ago

Tony, As I can’t dissuade you by appealing to the aesthetics of this Polyvinyl Chloride Monstrosity, How about the Safety Factor? How do you anchor it to the Beach? Drive ten foot rods into the Sand, it’s still sand. bury concrete blocks into the sand.Maybe. This is the worst place to install one of these things. Can you Imagine, Honey Boo Boo, and her friends on this slide, a wind comes up, it goes air born. This is the same stuff that Air Balloons, and Dirigibles are made of. It’s suppose to fly. The kids are injured or worse, What about Liability of the City? The City’s property? Just what this Town needs, another Law suite. Last year when the other guy, wanted to Install the water slide at our Beach. An accident happened. This time, this week, three kids were injured in Ft. Lauderdale in a Blow-up Bounce House. It’s just not worth it. The Town gets what? 20% ? We supply the Land, The Electricity, The Water. Extra Liability Insurance. Sharpen your pencil and figure it out. NOT WORTH IT.

T Shafer
T Shafer (@guest_36319)
7 years ago

It sounded to me like the frustration with the request and the demand for consensus was outside of normal procedure. Follow the rules like everybody else and you’re likely to be better received. I think that was the constructive criticism from the commission: follow the process.

I wonder how many will agree with Mr. Gass’ sentiments on property rights. Alarming.

Ross Gass
Ross Gass (@guest_36322)
7 years ago

I’m curious T Shafer, if property values are reassessed every 5 years by the Property Appraisers office, how does a three month window where the view has changed affect one’s property value?
And, as someone who does not own property on Amelia Island (and seems to not exist at all according to all the publically available sources by which such things are researched) what experience do you have in this realm?

T Shafer
T Shafer (@guest_36323)
7 years ago

Property values are only important at tax time and sale time. Your property might be worth less to a buyer when surrounded by what some might see as a deterrent. Experience tells me it’s LOCATION. LOCATION. LOCATION.

Ross Gass
Ross Gass (@guest_36327)
7 years ago

Who knew a person who doesn’t exist could accrue so much experience. So again, how csn a person’s resale value be affected by a non-permanent feature? Does Shrimp Fest detract from the resale value of downtown homes? Do the full parking lots and beaches from Memorial Day to Labor Day detract from the value of homes at Main Beach or Carlton Dunes?
Why not use your real name T Shafer?
And, to the editors, why are people being allowed to post when not using their real identities?

T Shafer
T Shafer (@guest_36368)
7 years ago

Mr. Gass, my given name is Teresa. But most people call me “T”. I am, indeed, real. Shrimp Fest 3 day festival and a 3 month waterslide are not really an apples to apples comparison.

Ross Gass
Ross Gass (@guest_36386)
7 years ago
Reply to  T Shafer

Please excuse me for doubting. I was surprised, after reading your lengthy comments, that I could’t find your name on the Nassau County Property Appraisers Website, the Clerk of the Court’s website or the last voter registration list.
And to your point about Shrimp Fest: yes, the 3 day Fesitval and and the 3 month Waterslide are different. what about the packed beaches, high traffic volume, and food trucks at Main Beach and Peters Point? Do those three month anomalies advisedly affect the worth of the Carlton Dunes or the Main Beach condos? If they did, should we tear them down to protect the investment of the property owners?
Mr. Lilly’s plan may have some shortcomings (which I hope he realizes and accounts for and then officially submits his idea), but I think the moneyed beach front condo owners are the constituency that elected officials should be concerned with first. They certainly play into any equation having to do with our hometown, but let’s let Mr. Lilly have his due attention before we hide behind the seasonal residents’ dollar for why we should deny a man a shot at a business opportunity and a place for children to enjoy themselves.

Steve Crounse
Steve Crounse (@guest_36513)
7 years ago

The proponents of this THING! Of which “Gass the Younger” is the Biggest, Talks about, Not in my back yard Folks, Moneyed beach front condo owners. Like that’s a sin. I would hope the Commission would take into account any installation of this type in any neighborhood. I don’t know, but my guess is that Mr Gass or Mr. Lilly do not live in slight line of this 36ft., Two Ton Monster. Last year, it seems, every time I drove by the last guys operation, the Blow-up slide grow another appendage. by end of summer the area was filled with this trash. Safety is a Huge Issue also.

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