Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
November 8, 2018 5:41 p.m.
As anticipated, the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) at its November 7, 2018 Regular Meeting awarded bid #18-23 to Brance Diversified, Inc. for projects related to the city marina’s south basin. Total cost of the project is $3.2 million. A portion of funding for the projects ($1.9 million) is included in the 2018/2019 budget. The remaining funds ($1.3 million) will be obtained through a short-term interfund loan from the Utilities Fund.
Under the terms of the contract, Brance will remove docks, dredge, and replace docks located between the southern attenuator and the seawall. They will also demolish the structure at 101 N. Front Street, commonly known as the Vuturo Building.
Commissioner Chip Ross asked to amend the motion to approve to allow the Vuturo Building to remain until plans for a replacement are approved. While he acknowledged the dilapidated state of the building, he expressed concerns that the city might not be allowed to build on the building’s footprint if the site remains vacant too long between demolition and new construction.
The city has received confirmation from permitting authorities that regardless of the building’s demolition, future construction can take place on the original building’s footprint. Commissioners have all agreed that the existing building is unsightly and that its continued existence undermines the city’s ability to enforce code violations on other derelict properties.
When the vote was taken, all five commissioners agreed to approve the contract as presented, with Ross apparently conceding to the will of the majority.
City Manager Dale Martin reported that the work would begin the week after Thanksgiving. He also noted that Fender plans to begin work to remove and replace the south basin attenuator dock the end of next week. He also reported that the city has hired Bronson Lamb to serve as project manager for the south basin work.
Commissioner Ross noted at the end of the meeting that Fernandina Beach Main Street is soliciting expressions of interest in repurposing the Vuturo property. He advised interested parties to contact Arlene Filkoff, Executive Director of the Main Street program or City Manager Dale Martin for additional information.
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.