Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
January 22, 2020
Return of boats to Fernandina Harbor Marina slated for January 24, 2020
Fernandina Beach City Manager Dale Martin has announced that the south basin of the Fernandina Harbor Marina (city marina) will once again be open to boaters effective Friday, January 24, 2020. The south basin of the marina has been closed since Hurricane Matthew paid a visit in October 2016. Martin made the announcement at the close of the January 21, 2020 meeting of the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC).
For more information about dockage and rates, call marina manager Joe Springer at (904) 310-3300 or email [email protected].
During the intervening 3+ years of closure, the city has been dealing with representatives of both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to secure permits and FEMA to secure funding. While permitting issues for the south basin have been resolved, FEMA has not yet agreed to release the money for repairs, despite the fact that St. Johns County has received reimbursement for expenses incurred as a result of damage from Hurricane Irma, which occurred in 2017.
Martin detailed the challenges presented by both agencies in his Weekly Column last week.
Also during the January 21, 2020 FBCC meeting, commissioners unanimously approved resolutions relating to the marina:
Resolution 2020-15 (Change Order)
The fueling system at the Fernandina Beach Marina was significantly damaged by Hurricane Matthew. The City issued Invitation to Bid #17-26 for the Marina Fuel Line Repairs, Improvements and/or Enhancements project and awarded the bid to Marina Utilities, Inc. via Resolution 2018-13 on February 6, 2018, in the amount of $87,950. The Change Order in the amount of $12,500 from Marine Utilities, Inc. is for the design of the Northern Attenuator fueling system, electrical system, water supply and fire prevention system. This design will include sealed and stamped plans for all utilities.
Resolution 2020-16 (Sole Source Vendor Approval – Marina Utilities, Inc.)
Marina Utilities, Inc. provided a proposal in the amount of $289,950 to furnish and install the northern attenuator electrical, water, and fire prevention utilities as well as finalize the installation of the Marina fueling system. Staff requested City Commission approval of Marina Utilities, Inc. as a sole source vendor. Marina Utilities, Inc. is the main contractor responsible for the installation of all utilities for the southern basin. Additionally, Marina Utilities has an existing repair contract for the fueling system which will piggyback onto this contract. Based on staff’s prior experience, other contractors are able to provide support for only one of the utilities and not all four systems; Marina Utilities is able to coordinate and install the four systems. If the City were to follow the Request for Proposal (RFP), four separate RFP’s and four contracts would need to be issued and work coordinated, thereby causing further delays.
City employees are not licensed/trained to install these systems.
Resolution 2020-17 (Award Bid #19-27 – Brance Diversified, Inc.)
The City solicited competitive bids for marina-related projects, specifically the removal, restoration (or replacement) of docks and dockpiles. This project was published as Invitation to Bid (ITB) 19-27 on November 25, 2019. Four bids were submitted by the December 23, 2019, deadline. Brance Diversified, Inc. submitted the lowest bid in the amount of $569,000.
In voting to approve the final resolution, Commissioner Chip Ross observed that the FBCC had just authorized spending $871,450 on the marina, but the City still has no long term funding plan. He expressed his hope that during the FBCC visioning workshop on January 28, 2020 consideration would be given to waterfront development to generate revenue to keep the marina afloat. Vice Mayor Len Kreger added that marina repairs have “morphed into significant expenditures.” He spoke to expenses exceeding the 10 percent contingency in the Brance contract. Kreger asked Comptroller Pauline Testagrose to prepare a full accounting of all the expenses incurred for marina repair and reconfiguration.
Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND) Commissioner Lynn Williams suggested that the broken up docks which will be removed from the north basin might be towed to the Dee Dee Bartels Park at the north end of Amelia Island and repurposed to serve as a breakwater to offset the effects of boat wakes and waves at the county boat dock. He estimated that such an effort would cost $35,000-50,000, and could possibly be funded via a FIND grant.
City Commissioner Chip Ross said, “That’s a wonderful idea. If the county wants to come and get it, they can. I am personally not willing to put any city money into something that is going to a county facility.” Kreger agreed with Ross. “I personally think we need to spend our money finishing our marina,” Kreger said, adding that since there is only so much FIND money available, he preferred to see that money used to benefit the city.