FBCC moves forward on downtown waterfront improvements

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
July 22, 2021


With neither fanfare nor public comment, the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) approved two Resolutions at their July 20, 2021 Regular Meeting that will enable the arduous and expensive work along the downtown waterfront to begin.  On a 4-1 vote (Vice Mayor Len Kreger dissenting) the FBCC also agreed to reconsider its vote at their July 6, 2021 Regular Meeting in which they denied a new lease and relocation for Atlantic Seafood.  Because the reconsideration was not on the agenda for the July 20, 2021 meeting, the FBCC will consider the matter at their August 3 Regular Meeting.

Resolution 2021-107 – Rail Crossings

The FBCC unanimously approved Work Order 21-98, Phase 1b, with Passero Associates, LLC,  in an amount not to exceed $39,000.00 for final design and bidding services for railroad crossings and resiliency at Ash, Centre, and Alachua Streets.

This project consists of final design services for the Amelia Riverfront existing railroad crossings at Ash and Centre Streets, including a future crossing at Alachua Street. The final design will be based on the approved conceptual plans developed in previous Work Order 20-92RR.

Resolution 2021-110 – Amelia River Waterfront Stabilization

Thomas May Construction Company was the sole response to Invitation to Bid (ITB) 21-06 for the Amelia River Waterfront Stabilization of Parking Lots C & D and the bid additive of the demolition of the existing boaters lounge and bathhouse.  Based on City Staff and the City’s consultant recommendations, the City Engineer recommended award of the construction contract of the base bid work and bid additive to Thomas May Construction Company.

To allow for contingencies and miscellaneous fees during construction, City staff recommended the City Commission establish a total project construction budget for this work of $2,600,000.00.

Grant funding in the amount of $500,000 has been awarded in FY 2021/2022 from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), Resilience Improvement Grant (RIG) for natural living shoreline and earthen berm elements of the Thomas May Construction Company bid, and will be budgeted in FY 2021/2022 in the American Rescue Plan Act Fund Improvements account.  Grant funding from FIND of $500,000.00 is budgeted in FY 2020/2021 in the Marina Improvements account.  State appropriations, FEMA, and the ARPA are available to provide additional funding. ARPA funding was not anticipated when the FY 2020/2021 budget was prepared Staff estimates $5,533,906 will be received in two payments. The first payment of $2,766,953 will increase the ARPA Fund Other Grant account, 315 33440 and the Improvements account, 315 7200 56300 in FY 2020/2021 and will raise the total City Budget from $161,629,558 to $164,396,511.

[See https://fernandinaobserver.com/city-news/first-phase-of-amelia-river-waterfront-resiliency-project-explained/ ]

Vice Mayor Len Kreger reminded other Commissioners that unless the FBCC commits to funding all phases of this project, work done in this first phase could prove to be useless, since the greatest vulnerability to flooding is to the north.  

Commissioner Chip Ross said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.  He expressed confidence that the City would complete the project.  In this first phase there will be a boardwalk and seating for citizens and visitors.  It converts the mud flats into a living shoreline.  By stabilizing the mud, it will mitigate dredging needs for the marina.

Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve this bid award.

Resolution 2021-97 – Atlantic Seafood Lease

Mayor Mike Lednovich asked for reconsideration of the FBCC’s previous denial of a new thirty year lease with renewal options for Atlantic Seafood to relocate just south of its current location and build a new structure to include possibly a restaurant/bar and retail space as part of the waterfront design plan. The leased area will generally include 9,000 square feet of uplands located on Water Lot 29.

Lednovich explained that he had initially opposed this request, citing a lack of urgency.  However, after meeting with the leaseholder he realized he had been mistaken.  He learned that the City had issued a 180 day notice of intent to demolish the existing Atlantic Seafood Building in late April.  With only 90 days left, Lednovich reassessed his position and decided there was urgency attached to the request.

Commissioners voted 4-1 to reconsider the matter at their August 3, 2021 Regular Meeting.  By delaying the vote to August, the FBCC is able to provide adequate notice to the public.

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