Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
March 13, 2021
The Fernandina Harbor Marina continues improvements as it lurches toward resuming full operational status later this month. City Manager Dale Martin noted in his Friday Report that coordination efforts with the State Department of Environmental Protection will likely result in fuel availability by mid-March.
In their Weekly Navigation Report to the City Oasis Marinas reported that wiring for the veeder root system has been pulled and wired into the system. Additional welding of the final transition sump held up installation last week, but installation is expected early this coming week. Contractors are on standby to test the system as soon as that project is completed.
Marina Manager Taylor Fitzsimmons also reported that Oasis welcomed 65 transient boats this past week, accounting for 280 booked nights of dockage. On March 1, two new long term monthly slip holders signed up as well.
With an increase in traffic accompanying the arrival of spring, Oasis has increased its cleaning and maintenance efforts. Fitzsimmons reported that ship store sales have been increasing as more inventory is added.
This weekend the American Cruise Lines resumed its stops in Fernandina for the first time since the Covid 19 outbreak in 2020.
City Manager Martin advised that the Fernandina Beach City Commission will consider a Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND) grant application at its March 16, 2021 Regular Meeting in light of need for additional dredging, particularly in the south end of the marina basin. In a letter of support for the grant, Eric Bradley, Vice President of Operations for Oasis Marinas, wrote: “In the approximately ninety days we have managed the facility, we have observed a loss of approximately one foot of depth at mean low water. This leaves some sections of the marina with 3’-4’ feet of water. At these depths, boats may ground, damage running gear, draw mud and silt into sensitive systems, and [may be] unable to transit in and out of the marina. These conditions will render some areas of the marina unusable.”
Bradley estimated that “15-20 thousand cubic yards of the material need to be dredged to return the marina to a depth of 8’ MLW. Current market rates are between $45-$55 per cubic yard, bringing the project total to at least $675,000 ($45cu X 15K). In previous years, this work has approached $1,000,000 in costs.”
The good news is that the City does have a current maintenance dredging permit that will allow dredging as needed until spring 2022. Oasis is working to extend that time frame.
Meanwhile there is still no news from FEMA on the City’s appeal to fund repair of damages caused by Hurricane Matthew in 2016, The Florida Department of Emergency Management supported City’s appeal and recommended FEMA fund the entire project. While the appeal is currently under review by FEMA, more than 90 days has elapsed since the City’s application, meaning that a FEMA ruling is overdue. The State Department of Emergency Management Appeals Officer shared with Martin that “FEMA Region IV reported on their Appeal Status Report (March 2) that the appeal is still pending.”