Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
May 21, 2021
On May 18, the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) formally approved Resolution 2021-71, adopting the Beach Access Committee Final Report of Construction and Maintenance Recommendations at City Beach Accesses. This report, the product of months of study by a citizen committee, was presented to the FBCC by committee chair Victoria Robas at the April 20, 2021 FBCC Regular Meeting.
City Attorney Tammi Bach included language in the resolution clarifying that the Final Report was being accepted “as guidance for future capital improvement planning” adding that “capital improvements are completed only to the extent the City Commission makes appropriations in the budgeting process.” This language clarifies that the FBCC has not committed to implement the plan exactly as detailed immediately.
Commissioner Chip Ross moved approval of the amended Resolution. He was seconded by Vice Mayor Len Kreger. Commissioners expressed their appreciation to the Beach Access Committee and adopted the Resolution on a unanimous vote.
Two citizens continued to voice their concerns about the lower priority attached to Beach Access (BA) 27. The report calls for repairs and action on problems at this location to be made in four years. The speakers cited the high taxes they pay for being able to walk to the beach from their homes.
Colleen Esperson emphasized the need for safe beach accesses. She claimed that Beach Access is dangerous and unsafe. She said that she has walked all the accesses and for reasons of maneuverability 27 is the worst. She said that on some occasions she has had to help people navigate the access. She also complained about the overflow parking from that access into her neighborhood, resulting in parking on residential lawns and broken sprinkler heads.
Marina Slaughter echoed Esperson’s concerns and presented the FBCC with a petition with more than 250 signatures requesting immediate action to address problems at BA 27. She claimed that the Beach Access Committee failed to take into account the number of visitors who rely on this beach access. She also cited concerns for the dunes caused by the City’s failure to address problems at BA 27. “Do not leave BA 27 as a goat trail; we are not goats,” she said.
City Manager Dale Martin said that additional ropes and posts will be installed, along with signage to advise users of BA 27 of soft sand. Work orders have already been issued to improve the situation. He further advised that residents who experience problems with vehicles parking on their lawns need to immediately call Police. The non-emergency number for Fernandina Beach Police response is (904) 277-7342; for emergencies, 911.