Weekly comments from Dale Martin – City projects updates: airport, beach walkovers, and more . .

By Dale Martin
City Manager
Fernandina Beach
April 23, 2021

Earlier this month, I offered a summary of several impending projects at the City’s Amelia River waterfront. The City does have several other projects that are at various stages of progress.

At Tuesday evening’s City Commission meeting, a contract was awarded to Scherer Construction to expand Airport hangar facilities, specifically Hangars #6 and #7. This $1.16 million project will be funded through a matching Florida Department of Transportation grant, with the State providing $630,000 and the Airport an additional $630,000. The Airport funds are not drawn from the City’s General Fund (meaning no property taxes are utilized for this project). When completed, the added hangar space is expected to generate approximately $40,000 of revenue annually for the Airport.

The Airport, in combination with the City’s Golf Course, also hosts a component of next month’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. The use of the Airport and Golf Course by auctioneer Bonhams and Butterfield provides additional revenue for each facility: the Airport for the use of property for parking and the Golf Course for the auction facilities.

Also related to the annual Concours event is the Airport’s hosting of an Army National Guard unit for training. In past years, the 2-111th Regiment of the Florida Army National Guard has provided air traffic control support during Concours to assist with the increased airplane activities. Due to that unit’s current overseas deployment this year, the Airport and the City will welcome the 1-107th Aviation Regiment of the Tennessee Army National Guard to provide similar Concours support.

The final Airport-associated project is the proposed development of a new fire station. This new fire station is intended to house the personnel and equipment currently located near the intersection of Sadler Road and S. Fletcher Avenue. The architectural plans for the new fire station have been completed and the City will soon publish and Invitation to Bid (ITB) for construction next month. Once bids have been received and reviewed, appropriate funding will be included for consideration in next year’s budget. The preliminary estimate for this new facility is $3.5 million. Upon completion of the new facility and the relocation of the personnel and equipment, the re-use and re-development of the existing station will be examined.

To conclude the activities at the City’s southern limits, the Toptracer facility at the Golf Course has been open for a month now. The reception for this new facility has been good and, as the weather begins to be a little more predictably warm, the use is beginning to increase. Early reports are that the initial revenues are exceeding projections, but how those revenues will continue as the initial excitement diminishes remains to be seen.

Other projects slated for action include the reconstruction of the Seaside Park (Sadler Road) boardwalk. Bids for that project were opened earlier this week, with the low bid slightly below the original estimate cost. The City had previously requested Tourist Development Council funding support for this project, but that support has yet to be formally offered (but is still being pursued by City officials). This project, too, will be included in the proposed budget for next year.

Two other bids will be solicited next month: professional engineering/architectural services to conduct an assessment of key City facilities (classified as Tier 1 due to purpose, usage, and age) and for repairs necessary to a privately constructed boardwalk located on City property (commonly referred to as the Seaside at Amelia walkway- to distinguish from the City’s Seaside Park). The receipt of bids for these projects will provide costs to, like the aforementioned projects, be presented for City Commission consideration in next year’s budget.

The Beach Access Committee presented its report to the City Commission on Tuesday evening. This Committee was formed to review and recommend options for the reconstruction of beach walkovers removed following an engineer’s recommendation of removal due to structural deficiencies. A copy of the report is available for review on the City’s website and social media pages. The City Commission will consider formally adopting the report and recommendations at its May 18 meeting. Thank you to Ms. Victoria Robas, members of the Beach Access Committee, and the supporting City staff for their efforts.

In addition to rebuilding all six of the previously removed walkovers, two other beach accesses were recommended to have walkovers constructed: at Beach Accesses 6 and 16. The first two walkovers to be rebuilt are recommended to be 6N (for which the City has received grant funding for a portion of the costs) and 40. The design of those walkovers will be completed and bids will be solicited for construction, with the costs included in the proposed budget.

City staff has begun their budget preparation efforts for next year’s budget and with the early bidding activities for a variety of projects, more definitive costs will be presented for specific projects for the City Commission (and community) to consider.

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