By Wes Wolfe
Not every city has a collectively owned marina, but Fernandina Beach is one of them. The city’s getting money to deal with repair costs to that marina from not this past hurricane, but Hurricane Matthew.
Money for the repairs should be on the way as City Manager Dale Martin advised interested parties late this week that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released dollars earmarked for the effort. The agency originally promised the dollars before recanting. FEMA changed its mind again after the city mounted a legal challenge, resulting in this payment.
That money, $300,000, is first going through the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) before city officials can dole it out. The money’s meant to cover interest costs incurred by the city for reconstruction loans.
“(City Comptroller Pauline) Testagrose is working with FDEM officials to secure the final release of these funds,” Martin said in an email. “The city will draw these funds as quickly as possible to begin the three-year statute of limitations for FEMA to file additional administrative actions. After three years, FEMA is prohibited from administrative actions to recover funds.”
The process of obtaining federal dollars for hurricane-caused marina damage is underway again for Hurricane Ian.
Commissioners spoke of the reconstruction need when they met for a workshop after the hurricane, which had been previously set for discussion of playground equipment and the city’s tree assessment plan.
“I thought in light of the storm,” Mayor Mike Lednovich said at the Oct. 4 meeting, “our third storm in six years, in light of losing one-third of the boardwalk on the north side of the marina, in light of Parking Lot A going to be closed for four to six weeks, in light of a major business, Amelia Island Cruises, being shut down, that we should spend the next hour talking about flood protection.”
The marina suffered damage to its electrical system and its fuel service, which put it out of use for a bit. Work continued elsewhere in the city on hurricane cleanup in recent weeks.
“I’d just like to give a shout-out to the city staff for their yard debris (work) after the hurricane — it’s all been completed,” Commissioner Chip Ross said at the latest City Commission meeting. “Amazing work. Amazing. I’ve had so many compliments about how that just — (like) it all evaporated.”