FERNANDINA BEACH WEATHER

Weekly comments from Dale Martin – Waterfront feedback, boards, personnel change and more . . .

By Dale Martin
City Manager
October 9, 2020

City Manager Dale Martin

Current issues:

Election- As the November 3 Election Day approaches, I again encourage everyone to vote. The opportunity to vote by mail (underway), early (beginning Oct 19), or in-person at the polls, provides little reason to forego this fundamental citizen responsibility.

In addition to the candidates and questions that all Nassau County voters will consider, City residents have the opportunity to select three City Commissioners to serve four-year terms. These races are frequently overlooked among the more high-profile offices and ballot questions. It is these candidates, however, that more likely have a significant impact on your daily lives and quality of life than does anything else on the ballot. Please take the time to learn about these candidates and then cast your ballot.

Boards and Commissions- I sincerely applaud the seven candidates running for City Commission. During this uncertain time of the Covid pandemic and the vitriol spewed on national, local, and social media, it is often overlooked that some people still want to serve, especially in such a visible and vulnerable role.

The City needs more people to serve the community. The various boards and commissions require volunteers to continue the business of local government. These boards do a significant amount of “heavy-lifting” that is often overlooked. Vacancies are available many boards, both the traditional boards such as the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee and the Golf Course Advisory Board as well as the soon-to-be-formed Beach Access Committee. It is imperative that a pool of volunteers be established through board service so that awareness and understanding of local government operations can be shared. Often, service on these boards is akin to the “minor leagues” of baseball: a training ground for additional leadership and service to the City such as the City Commission.

Waterfront- Over the course of the past year(s), the City Commission has frequently established the redevelopment of the waterfront as its primary goal. The effort this year has progressed to the point that a concept of development has been presented to several boards and commissions and received sufficient endorsement to have been presented to the City Commission.

The City, with the assistance of a professional landscape architect, is currently soliciting public comments through an online Community Hub. The Hub can be accessed through the City’s website home page and Facebook page. Through the Hub, the conceptual design can be viewed and downloaded, and several of the components can be evaluated, with the additional opportunity to offer comments. Contrary to local conspiracy theorists and skeptics, the scoring and comments (the recording of which the City does not manage or control) will be provided in their entirety to the City Commission (and community) at the completion of the Community Hub effort (scheduled to conclude on Oct 18).

In addition to the Community Hub, the landscape architects will host a second Zoom-based forum to engage interested parties. The first online forum was Sep 28 and had an audience of approximately one dozen. Due to the pandemic, these online forums (the Hub and the Zoom meetings) serve as alternatives to in-person gatherings conducted previously for such projects. The overall participation rate of this effort (combined probably exceeding two hundred participants) would likely exceed the participation at traditional public forums, so the City Commission should have a broad base of comments and information to consider.

The scheduled Zoom meeting is Monday, Oct 12, from 2:00-3:30 PM. The link to the meeting can be again found on the City’s web-based calendar as well as the City’s Facebook page. If you are interested in learning more of the concept or wish to share your comments, please consider joining the online meeting.

Personnel- The City will shortly bid farewell to Mr. John Mandrick, the City’s Utilities Director, due to his retirement at the end of this month. Mr. Mandrick has managed the City’s water and wastewater system since those systems were incorporated into City government.

Mr. Mandrick will be replaced by Mr. Charles George. Mr. George, who will be designated as the City Engineer, a more generalist position than that of Utilities Director, has an extensive background in coastal project engineering and management: his experience will serve the City well as projects on both the river and the ocean waterfronts are considered. Mr. George begins his tenure with the City on Oct 26.

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