City floats idea to speed dredging marina’s south basin

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
June 21, 2018 4:30 p.m.

City Manager Dale Martin

Following the Fernandina Beach City Commission’s (FBCC) declaration at their June 19, 2018 Regular Meeting that it had no intention of selling the marina or the golf course, City Manager Dale Martin broached a new idea for speeding up the dredging needed in the south marina basin.

Martin explained that the city appears to be on track to award a bid to replace the south attenuator and to obtain the required permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.  But the latest problem to surface involves the backlog of requests for replacement docks.  Bellingham Marine, the purveyor of these docks, has a backlog of requests for replacements from marinas damaged during last year’s hurricanes.  Martin reported that an idea had surfaced the previous week that would allow work on the south basin to continue while new decks were being manufactured.

Future marina dock configuration conforming to 1996 ATM study recommendations

Once the contract for the south attenuator is awarded, planned for the July 17, 2018 FBCC meeting, bids would be solicited for south basin dredging.  This would mean that work could proceed to remove and store the perpendicular docks from the south basin and remove the pilings.  This would enable dredging to begin possibly as early as September-October.

Martin stressed that the realignment would not eliminate the need for periodic dredging, but it would reduce the frequency.

The initial plan called for completion of the south attenuator first, thereby allowing slip holders to temporarily relocate to the attenuator while the perpendicular docks were removed and replaced with a linear dock paralleling the attenuator.  Dredging the south basin would occur as part of the reconfiguration.

Martin said that contractors believed that by flipping the two phases of the project, the target completion date of Shrimp Fest 2019 was still viable.

“Right now this appears to be the best option,” Martin said, explaining that the city already has the permits to realign the southern basin and to dredge the basin.  He said that the city has $300K in FIND grants to pay for part of the dredging, which is estimated to cost a million dollars.  The remaining $700K will come from deferred capital projects in the new budget. The docks that will be pulled and stored will also be repaired so that they can be reused in the realigned configuration.

Martin acknowledged that since the new idea had only recently come forward, it had not been completely vetted or endorsed.  It would cause disruption to boaters who currently occupy slips in the south basin. They would need to find other dock space or stop operation until the southern attenuator was in place and available for their return to the marina.

Charter boat captains expressed concerns with timetables and notifications.  But both the City Manager and commissioners indicated that they would be kept informed if this plan were to be adopted.

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.