By Dale Martin
City Manager of Fernandina Beach
March 10. 2022
This week I’ll provide a timely update on various projects of note.
Waterfront- The construction of the seawall and riverwalk and the placement of the components for stabilizing the adjoining shoreline continue. The petanque courts will be constructed as the final part of this effort. When the construction work is completed, the parking areas (commonly referred to as Parking Lots C and D) will be restored to the pre-construction configuration. This will conclude Phase 1 of the waterfront redevelopment effort.
Although not directly associated with the shoreline/redevelopment efforts, I must share two other Marina-related efforts: the expansion of the Amelia River mooring field and the anticipated limited dredging at the Marina. The seawall/Riverwalk, the mooring field, and the dredging were all collaboratively funded by the City and the Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND), with each party contributing almost $750,000 to the effort. The funds available through FIND are generated through a relatively small millage on your annual property taxes (0.0320 mills; less than ten dollars on my tax bill). Thank you to FIND for the continuing financial support for Marina/waterfront projects: with that help, three significant projects will be completed this year (within a matter of months actually).
Returning more specifically to the City’s waterfront efforts, although a variety of options are available, Phase 2 of the shoreline/redevelopment effort has yet to be identified by the City Commission. No further construction projects are likely as part of the shoreline/redevelopment effort for the remainder of this fiscal year (through September 30).
Other waterfront discussions continue. A preliminary concept for a reconstructed Atlantic Seafood structure is anticipated to be offered by the end of the month. The concept will then be shared with City Commissioners to ensure that the concept meets the desired parameters agreed to by the City Commission in January. That effort is related to the possible re-consideration of the existing lease between the City and Atlantic Seafood.
The status of the structure housing Brett’s Waterway Café remains unresolved as litigation continues regarding the integrity and safety of the substructure. Following the completion of an engineering review, the City and the leaseholder, Center Street Restaurant Group, met in mediation earlier this week, but failed to resolve the issue as to the extent of safety and repairs.
Railroad crossings– The planned improvements to the Ash Street and Centre Street railroad crossings are progressing. The City has awarded the contract for the projects and the parties involved (City, railroad, State, and contractor) have conducted several preliminary meetings. These projects are not planned to start until May so as to not impact the return of the annual Shrimp Festival at the end of April. The contractor may be able to install the fence along the sidewalk connecting Ash and Centre Streets as a small project before the Shrimp Festival. The fence was part of the original sidewalk construction project.
The Alachua Street crossing is also part of the contract award and is expected to be the third and final component of the railroad improvements following the Ash Street and Centre Street projects. With the assistance of Senator Bean’s staff, an additional source of funding related to stormwater improvements is likely to be realized and made available for the project.
The Alachua Street crossing project will also include streetscape improvements along Alachua Street (between N. Front Street and N. 2nd Street). The streetscape improvements (sidewalks, lighting, landscaping) will also be extended on N. 2nd Street, perhaps as far north as Broome Street. Significant private development efforts, both commercial and residential, are underway (and more planned) in that area of downtown.
Street paving– At its most recent meeting, the City Commission awarded the contract for annual street paving efforts. Portions of the following streets are slated for repaving: Cedar, Date, Fir, S. 4th, S. 5th, S. 9th, S. 11th, and N. 6th. The parking pad at the northwest corner of Central Park will also be resurfaced. The streets selected for repaving were based upon a pavement condition study completed several years ago by the City in an effort to develop an objective criteria for paving needs.
Airport– Hangar construction continues in an effort to meet the growing demand for additional hangar space.
Utilities– Mostly out of sight, maintenance efforts continue on the City’s water and wastewater infrastructure- painting the water tower and rehabilitating a wastewater tank.
Beach walkovers– The City has received funding for two beach walkovers (6N and 16). Additional funding requested from the State as part of the State’s annual budget is not likely. Following the recommendations of the Beach Access Committee, construction of another beach walkover will likely be part of the initial budget for next year.
Thank you to the staff for their efforts in developing, managing, and completing these projects for our community.