Boat Ramp Talk Gets Five Thumbs Down

By Mike Lednovich

Fernandina Beach city commissioners were united Tuesday in dismissing any proposed plans of closing the city boat ramp to add more spaces to parking lots C and D.

The idea of eliminating the city boat ramp was raised at the February meeting of the Community Redevelopment Area Advisory Board (CRAAB). The board had placed the boat ramp on its March agenda for discussion.

The question of closing the boat ramp to increase parking at the CRAAB meeting was introduced by Fernandina Beach City Commissioner Chip Ross.

Ross said the idea to shut down the city boat ramp and have boaters use Nassau County’s Dee Dee Bartels boat ramp came during an email exchange with Joe Blanchard, chair of the city’s Marina Advisory Board.

The proposal made headlines in the Fernandina Observer and Fernandina News Leader as well as sparking backlash on social media platforms.

Mayor Bradley Bean asked commissioners for their opinions on keeping the city boat ramp open at Tuesday’s city commission meeting. He said because of state Sunshine Law restrictions, he could not discuss the CRAAB meeting statements with other commissioners.

“For me it’s a big yes. It’s something that’s important to the marina and the community,” Bean said.

Vice Mayor David Sturges said, “We don’t control what advisory committees bring up and discuss. We don’t control or shouldn’t interject on what advisory committees that work for the city come up with on their own. We can suggest and we can make comments to them, but just because they have a discussion doesn’t mean it came from this body for us to tell them what to do. I would never close the boat ramp in the city. We as a commission didn’t generate that.”

Ross said he never advocated or suggested closing the boat ramp. “I did point out that if you closed it you would gain 35 more parking spaces, but we’ll leave that alone.”

Bean closed with “you heard it here, five out of five city commissioners saying that the boat ramp is staying right where it is and on top of that we’re working on plans to revamp that boat ramp.”

Interim City Manager Charlie George said plans are in place to replace the boat ramp and add adjoining floating docks.

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Trusted Member
1 month ago

Thank goodness!!! The way it was presented when this first came up had it sounding an awful lot like armchair politics!!! You must always listen to those who actually use the facility and study the usage before making critical decisions about its use. We need quality of life….not more parking spots for those our island can barely accommodate as it is. That’s locals and tourists alike. Our current tourists are our future residents….that’s just how it works. The height of wisdom is to know when Enough is Enough!!!

Joe Blanchard
Trusted Member
Joe Blanchard(@jlblan2)
1 month ago

This is very interesting. Let’s see: I make a comment in “Dave’s BLOG” that it should be a wakeup call to the City when they consider ammending the charter to allow the City Manager to live outside the City because it is too expensive to live in the City and a few days later Mr. Ross emails me and asks why we can’t close the City Boat Ramp and let everyone use the County Boat Ramp. I emailed him that the City Boat Ramp was protected and the County Boat Ramp was not. Protected meaning protection from wind and wave action. He then emailed me and asked how the County Boat Ramp could made protected and I emailed him back that it would be too expensive.I did say that IF the County Boat Ramp could be made protected then closing the City Boat Ramp would probably be a good idea but this was only my opinion. This is like me saying that IF the railroad tracks were removed from downtown then the River Park would be a good idea (which will never happen). Let my make it positively clear that I don’t endorse the closing of the City Boat Ramp nor building the River Park. I do endorse reducing costs to the City tax payers by putting on the ballot a resolution to either combine those services that are redundant between the City and County or have the County reduce our taxes for county services we don’t use. I think it is high time that we, in the city, quit paying for both city and county services but only using one.