By Dale Martin, City Manager
At the City Commission’s January 3 workshop, the primary topics of discussion were beach related: beach parking and beach harmonization. At the conclusion of the workshop, the City Commissioners indicated that they would like to hear comments from the general public about the two issues.
It is necessary, though, to clarify the origin of the topics, beginning with beach parking. The summary of plans and recommendations were developed by consultants funded by Nassau County officials: “Nassau County BOCC has hired Walker Consultants to prepare the following draft report that supports the Phase 2 scope of services for the Amelia Island Beach Access and Parking Study. The information contained herein represents our preliminary solutions and system enhancements for the Amelia Island Beach Access and Parking program” (April 22, 2022 correspondence). None of the plans or recommendations had been endorsed or approved by the City Commission or by city staff. The purpose of the workshop was to initiate public discussion on what the City Commission and the community supported (or didn’t support).
The Executive Summary of the draft report begins with the recommendation to form an Amelia Island Parking Authority to “relieve the County and City of its day-to-day management responsibilities of the beach access parking facilities and enable both organizations to focus on the ability to provide the much-needed essential services for its residents, visitors, and larger constituent groups.” The Authority “would be responsible for the collection of fees and forfeitures in exchange for managing and maintaining the Amelia Island beach parking assets.”
Question #1: What are your (residents) comments for the establishment of an Amelia Island Parking Authority?
An inventory of parking capacity associated with the beaches reveals that nearly 850 parking spaces are available within the city at a variety of locations. Unincorporated county has approximately 600 spaces and with nearly 200 more at Fort Clinch, about 1600 beach parking spaces are available (although no reference is made to Amelia Island State Park, which would likely significantly increase that number).
The Walker report offered recommendations to expand parking at North Beach (90 spaces), “formalizing” Ocean Avenue parking (194), Dolphin Street (40), Tarpon Avenue (46), Atlantic Avenue (153), Jasmine Street (50), and Sadler Road (119). Additionally, a parking structure is suggested to be located at the city’s Atlantic Recreation Center.
Question #2: In which of the described areas do you support expanded parking?
Although those described areas were oriented to vehicle parking, some reference was made to expanded bicycle facilities: bicycle lanes, non-motorized paths, lockers, maintenance operations.
The final parking recommendation called for the establishment of paid parking: “Paid parking regulations would include options for permit parking, hourly or incremental rate parking, daily parking, and event parking or fixed rate parking. The goal is for the establishment of a paid parking program to assist with the inventory management and utilize proceeds to reinvest in parking inventory enhancements and mobility alternatives.”
Question #3: What are your comments regarding paid beach parking?
The other beach component discussed by the City Commission was also funded by Nassau County: beach harmonization. This effort examined each beach area and offered a series of enhancements to each park for the city to consider.
Question #4: What efforts would you support at North Beach:
Question #5: What facilities would you support at Main Beach:
- Expanded skate park
- Multi-use courts
Question #6: What projects would you support at Seaside Park?
- Additional boardwalks (accessible)
- Rinse stations
The City Commission is only now beginning to review the many facets of the reports and recommendations offered by county officials and consultants. City Commissioners greatly desire comments and feedback from you about the City’s Atlantic Ocean beaches and parks.
Please share your thoughts with City Commissioners:
- Mayor Bradley Bean [email protected]
- Vice Mayor David Sturges [email protected]
- Commissioner James Antun [email protected]
- Commissioner Darron Ayscue [email protected]
- Commissioner Chip Ross [email protected]
Thank you for your insight.