FERNANDINA BEACH WEATHER

Weekly Comments from Dale Martin: Work on downtown waterfront poised to begin

Submitted by Dale Martin
City of Fernandina Beach Manager
August 20, 2021

City Manager Dale Martin

Next week will see key milestones for several major City projects.

With the formal bid awarded and the appropriate Notice to Proceed issued and acknowledged, a pre-construction meeting for the Waterfront Phase I project will likely be scheduled. Thomas May Construction was awarded the approximately $2,500,000 contract to construct the resiliency, seawall, and boardwalk components at Parking Lots C and D (south of the City boat ramp at the foot of Ash Street). Additional coordination with Florida Public Utilities officials is necessary due to the relocation of electric service in that area. Mobilization and construction should begin later this month. The intent is to have the south portion of the project, as well as the reconstruction of the petanque courts (not part of the Thomas May contract but to be completed by City staff), sufficiently completed by late October to host the November petanque tournament. After the tournament, work will resume in order to meet the grant funding deadline for completion by March 2022.

Another project related to the waterfront next week is the scheduled bid opening for maintenance dredging at the Marina. The siltation continues to constrain an area at the southern entrance to the Marina’s southern basin. The scope of the dredging, approximately 15,000 cubic yards of material to be removed, was based upon a recent survey of the basin. Several prospective contractors attended a pre-bid meeting last month, so interest in the project is apparently high. Once the bids are opened and reviewed, funding for the project can be determined. At this time, the City has received a grant for the dredging from the Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND) for roughly $200,000. This grant must be matched by a similar City contribution. The City will be further solely responsible for additional costs above the grant and match amount.

Although the reconfiguration of the basin docks has somewhat lessened the impact of siltation, dredging will continue to be necessary for the foreseeable future to maintain operations at the interior basin docks. It will be critical to develop a source of dedicated Marina funding for future dredging efforts to reduce the ongoing financial burden on taxpayers. As has been frequently acknowledged, the Marina is an enterprise fund: operations are intended to be financed through users (slip rentals, transient fees, and fuel sales). Additionally, City Engineer Charles George is exploring alternative efforts to reduce the impact of silting and the need for dredging.

Also related to the Marina, the City should receive the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) response to the City’s arbitration filing. The City filed for arbitration with the United Stated Civilian Board of Contract Appeals after FEMA failed to respond in a timely (statutorily-required) manner to the City’s appeal for reimbursement of replacement funding for the Marina infrastructure destroyed by Hurricane Matthew. The FEMA response was originally due on August 16, but FEMA officials requested an extension (to no later than Friday, August 27), and, at the recommendation of Counsel, the City Attorney and I agreed to the extension.

The City will also open bids for the construction of the proposed fire station to be located at the City Airport. The specific location for the facility is on Airport Road, a few hundred yards from the intersection of Airport Road, Amelia Island Parkway, and Amelia Road. The station will include several bays for equipment, including one bay dedicated for equipment to support Airport operations (which results in a portion of the design and construction of the station to be funded by the Florida Department of Transportation. If the submitted proposals are financially feasible, following a review of the bids, a proposal will be presented to the City Commission for consideration. Debt service funding for the fire station is included in the proposed budget (and will be required to be included in future budgets).

Finally, the City had previously advertised for an assessment of several key City facilities. The City Commission has expressed interest in assessing the condition of these facilities to address the state of long-term maintenance neglect. A separate assessment of the City Hall facility had been completed and presented to the City Commission. Seven consultants submitted proposals (one, though, was late and not opened). City staff is currently reviewing the submissions and will offer a recommendation to the City Commission in the near future.

As the current budget year concludes and the new year looms, these projects, and others, remain at the forefront of City Commission goals. I look forward to these efforts in our community.

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