What’s to become of the Amelia River Golf Course?

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Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
May 24, 2019 10:04 a.m.

Fernandina Beach City Commission Chambers filled early to overflowing for the FBCC’s May 21, 2019 Regular Meeting.  Many concerned city and county residents patiently sat through the regular business meeting waiting for the first Discussion item placed on the agenda by Commissioner Mike Lednovich:  Land Conservation – Amelia River Golf Course.  There was no backup material accompanying this item, but it quickly became apparent that many audience members had been made aware of the issue in advance of the meeting.

The discussion, which lasted more than 2 hours and brought 20 speakers to the podium, centered around a proposed development of a multi-million dollar car-centric complex on what is today the Amelia River Golf Course (ARGC) leasehold and Lednovich’s counter proposal for the city to take over the lease and convert the property to conservation and recreational land.  Even though the developer had not yet submitted a proposal to the city for formal consideration, Lednovich decided to submit his own proposal.

The developer had, however, presented his concept to the city’s Airport Advisory Commission earlier for their consideration and input, thereby generating rumors and alarms throughout parts of the island community that intensified as they made their way through social media sites.

The FBCC discussion quickly bogged down over issues involving the leasehold.  City Attorney Tammi Bach cautioned commissioners to stick to policy and avoid wading into issues that could result in lawsuits for the city.  It was also clear that Lednovich was presenting his personal proposal for an alternative use for the ARGC property and did not represent the FBCC.

Background

There has been no proposal or application submitted to the city yet for consideration of alternative use of the ARGC property, but informal discussions between the developer and individual commissioners have taken place.

In 2016-17 it was brought to the city’s attention by a local realtor that the Sheffields were marketing their lease for the Amelia River Golf Course.  The city exchanged correspondence and made an offer for purchase, which was rejected at that time.  The issue was not pursued further at the time.

In an undated but recent letter to city commissioners, George Sheffield, head of the family group that currently holds the ARGC lease wrote:  “As you may know, we have a contract to purchase the property.  We are not in a position to negotiate with the City nor anyone else while this contract is in force, nor do we desire to do so.  It is not the “right’ thing to do.”

That contract to purchase is with Signature Land, Inc., whose president, Steve Leggett, has met privately with city commissioners and city officials about his plans to construct a car centric complex on the former golf course.  His public presentation of the project has been scheduled for the June 18, 2019 FBCC Regular Meeting.

Lednovich preempts developer by presenting his alternative plan for the land

Commissioner Mike Lednovich presents his plan to the FBCC.

Lednovich, who lives in a neighborhood near the proposed project,  decided to head off this project at the pass before it could be seriously considered.  He developed an alternative plan for the property that would convert it into conservation and parkland.  At the May 21 FBCC meeting, he stepped down from his seat on the commission to present his alternative plan, which would, among other things, save existing trees and add more; provide land for future sports fields; eliminate the need for Simmons Park; increase business for the city’s golf course; help the city’s flood rating; and eliminate the potential for increased noise and traffic.

In order to move forward with his plan, Lednovich asked for agreement from his fellow commissioners to vote to terminate the ARGC lease on the July agenda.  He suggested that the purchase of the lease could be financed via Parks and Recreation impact fees and a one-time half-mil property tax increase.  He allowed that there could be roadblocks if the Sheffields challenged the city’s right to early termination of their lease via litigation.

Leaseholder objections

Attorney Jon Lasserre

Attorney Jon Lasserre of the Rogers Towers law firm followed Lednovich’s 20-minute presentation.  “I’m not sure where to begin.  I’m not sure how we got here the way we did,” Lasserre said, adding that he was representing the Sheffield family on the issue of terminating the lease, not the developer.  He said that the current situation is potentially damaging income to the city of Fernandina Beach by raising doubts in the public arena about the future of the lease.  “It is not healthy for our clients’ ongoing business, their situation with their employees or their membership.”  

He expressed concerns that the manner in which the termination of the leasehold is being discussed could be construed as tortious interference. Wikipedia defines this term thusly:  Tortious interference with contract rights can occur when one party convinces another to breach its contract with a third party (e.g., using blackmail, threats, influence, etc.) or where someone knowingly interferes with a contractor’s ability to perform his contractual obligations, preventing the client from receiving the services or goods promised.

“We are bewildered by this,” Lasserre said.  He said that earlier negotiations with the city had broken down because the city’s offer to buy out the lease was “insulting, preposterous.”  This comment was in reference to the discrepancies in the parties’ assessed value of improvements to the ARGC.  The city via the airport actually owns the land itself.

“Here we are in a new day, with a new potential project and you may be foreclosing on a great new opportunity when you haven’t even heard a real proposal yet,”  Lasserre said, adding that the proposal’s formal presentation on June 18 had been preempted by Lednovich’s presentation with no advance warning.

“At best we’re jeopardizing current income to the city by having this discussion in this manner; at worst we are costing the city an awful lot of money to get to what may or may not be a better solution,” he said.  He questioned certain matters Lednovich had presented as fact and cited the problems caused by social media spreading information out of context.

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Lednovich reminded Lasserre that the developer had appeared twice before the Golf Course Advisory Committee to present plans for the property, and that ARGC had sent a letter to members advising of their intent to cease operations in December.  Lasserre referenced a letter that had been sent out providing a status report but stating a commitment to remain open for a year.

Wes Sheffield

George Sheffield, Jr., known throughout the community as Wes Sheffield, spoke next on behalf of the Sheffield family.  “I find some of what you have done, Mr. Lednovich, as very appalling,” he said.  “We have not even had a chance to speak to our employees about what may or may not be going on.  You could have given us at least a day.  Instead we have information leaked about our business that affects us immediately.”  He stressed the longevity of his family in the Fernandina Beach community dating back to the 1890’s.

Sheffield said he had dressed in red, white and blue to let the commission know that “you can’t just take people’s stuff.”  “You can’t just make some arbitrarily low offer and expect me to take it,” he said.  “We have a long lease, and we have chosen to sell it.  We have a potential buyer who has an idea for something they’d like to do with it, and I think it’s a cool idea.  Maybe everyone doesn’t agree, and that’s okay.  But the bottom line is that I have a right to that lease and I have a right to get a fair value for that lease.  You don’t have the right to dictate some arbitrary low number way, way, way, way below our appraised value of $8 million.”

He reminded commissioners of the costs the city of Jacksonville recently incurred to break its lease and move its tenants.  “This is not play time,” he said.  “It’s not fair; it’s not right.”

Public comment

Sixteen city residents and three non-city island residents spoke next to express their opposition to the proposed car centric proposal and their support for Lednovich’s idea.  Speakers encouraged the city to buy out the Sheffield’s lease in the interests of all the citizens who support the need for conservation lands, green space and tree canopies.  

Speakers characterized the project as a race track for wealthy outsiders who would not be a part of the island community.  They feared excessive noise from racing cars, and large increases in traffic along the Amelia Island Parkway.  Speakers had no concerns over continued use the property as a golf course.

But some speakers also raised concerns over the city’s obligation to pay rent to the airport for use of the land, per recent interpretations of FAA rules.  Although the land is not currently part of the airport’s holding, the FAA has determined that funds from use of the land must go to support the airport, not the city of Fernandina Beach.  This could mean that even if the city designated all land for conservation, it would be required to pay the airport, which currently receives revenue from the Amelia River Golf Course.

In general public speakers expressed concerns that additional development degrades the quality of life that has characterized the community.

Developer responds to Lednovich, public

Developer Steve Leggett

Following public comment developer Steve Leggett addressed the commission.  He also expressed surprise over what appeared to be Lednovich’s preemptive approach to kill the project.  He said that his firm has done a lot of ground work, including speaking with all the commissioners to gather their thoughts, and that to date $400,000 has been invested in the project.

Leggett explained that following discussions, the plan had been changed to eliminate the golf course and devote 115 acres of marsh side property to conservation with development closer to the parkway.  He said that his firm has searched FAA releases, surveyed the property and conducted other studies in order to prepare a proposal to bring to the FBCC.  “And we have not yet brought anything to the Commission,” he said.  “We’ve been working in good faith with the city to bring a proposal forward in June, and that is what we still intend to do.”

He provided commissioners with an executive summary that also included a list of discussion points, including trees, traffic and noise.  

Since the most heavily wooded area would be designated conservation, it would not be touched.  The golf course area has been cleared more than 85 percent, and the area slated for construction has no trees.  He said that since the ARGC is already a country club that accounts for more than 30,000 rounds of golf a year, there is already traffic associated with the site.  The new plan would not add any rooftops, but would generate $2.5-3M in new ad valorem taxes as opposed to the current $52,000.  He indicated that he was considering roundabouts for the area.

He reminded commissioners that golf courses put down heavy doses of pesticides and fertilizers, in addition to pumping millions of gallons of water out of the aquifer to water the greens.  “That will stop as well,” he said.

The current lease generates about $225,000 per year for the airport and keeps it in the black.  Leggett said that his proposal would double the amount of money going to the airport.

Leggett said that he takes the noise issue seriously and wanted to correct the notion that the development would bring a racetrack to the property.  He said that there would be a driving course, not a racetrack, that would let car owners try out their cars and various innovations, but that there would not be car racing on the site.  “This is not for race cars,” he said.  “It’s for luxury manufactured cars that are not modified, with a high focus on electric cars, which are the way of the future.  We see research and development being done here.  We see a lot of high skill jobs that are clean industry.”

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“We are interviewing sound engineering companies right now,” Leggett said.  The buildings are being designed in a way to be a sound barrier to the road course.  He and his team are taking sound measurements from other car events at the airport for comparison measurements.

Mayor John Miller

Commission Discussion

Mayor Miller called for Commission Discussion after more than 90 minutes of input from the public and affected parties, allowing that upon advice of the city attorney, he would not comment at this time.

Lednovich said, “The question before us, commissioners, is do we want to be proactive with the intent of reclaiming city property?  And by that I mean termination of the lease.  Or is it your desire to hear this proposal all the way through a new lease consideration?”

He argued that because the lease was not being turned over to another golfing concern, the FBCC needed a new lease for the property.

Vice Mayor Len Kreger said that on advice of City Attorney Tammi Bach he would not say much.  He did advise commissioners, however, that Simmons Park has been approved and work is underway.

Commissioner Chip Ross

Commissioner Chip Ross said that he had not talked with the City Attorney, but that before going on about “terminating the lease,” he wanted a written opinion on why the city believes it can unilaterally terminate the lease.  He also expressed concerns about many unanswered questions involving the airport, the FAA, etc.  His preference was to allow Leggett to go forward with his June presentation.  “Just saying we’re going to terminate the lease is not a prudent way to go,” Ross said.  “We need far more information.”

Commissioner Phil Chapman said that he had many questions and felt it was premature to ask commissioners to commit to any proposal at this point.

Lednovich, who appeared to ignore Bach’s advice to avoid talking about the lease, asked Lasserre and Leggett if the revised lease would be ready for consideration by July 16.  Leggett replied that he intended to present the revised lease during his June 18 presentation.  Bach clarified with Leggett that on June 18 he will make a presentation but not seek a vote from the FBCC.  She added that a lease agreement or assignment only takes one reading because it can be adopted by resolution, not ordinance.

Kreger reminded commissioners that the land is zoned Industrial, and that the FBCC would need to know if the uses that Leggett proposes are allowed in that zoning category.

Ross also said that the FBCC needed to know the position of the FAA prior to making a decision and implications for the city and the airport.

Bach and City Manager Dale Martin are already in discussion with the FAA over the matter of grant assurances.  Martin told the audience that following extensive discussions with the FAA, that agency agreed to allow the city to place the Ybor Alvarez fields on airport property at no charge.  But the FAA has the authority to determine if proposed rents for other uses meet fair market value criteria, whether the Leggett proposal or a park.

City Attorney cautions commissioners

Following the meeting, City Attorney Tammi Bach sent the following email to all city commissioners and city staff:

City Attorney Tammi Bach

“I am advising City Commissioners and City staff to decline making any further comments about the Amelia River Golf lease in public, including what the City or lessee’s rights may be under the lease.  I have been asked by the media this morning about the City’s interpretation of the Amelia River Golf lease.  I declined to comment on this issue and hope you all will do the same.

“The real issue here is what you want to do in the future with the Amelia River Golf Course property in light of the fact that the Sheffield’s have been marketing their lease for years, and you are welcome to discuss this policy issue in public.  Discussing the legal technicalities of how the City handles the assignment of the lease or buy out of the lease is for the City Attorney and City Manager to figure out as your professionals, which does not include television cameras, social media or discussions at public meetings.  Discussing legal technicalities, lease interpretations, appraisals, etc. in public is not your role as policymakers.  Making policy involves high-level decision-making regarding goals, direction and policies which are executed by City staff.  Details are to be handled by your professional staff.  As a member of the City’s professional staff, I am happy to discuss legal technicalities, lease interpretations, appraisals and details with any of you in private.  However, I do not expect that our conversations will be “played back” in public or otherwise divulged to members of the public.  The City Commission is heading down a very dangerous (albeit expensive) path if we continue to negotiate agreements and discuss legal strategy or positions in public.

“I respect each and every one of you for your prior professional experiences.  I have never served a more knowledgeable City Commission.  The City Manager, City Attorney, City Clerk, City staff and consultants are here to take on the tasks necessary to implement your policies.  Please allow us to do our jobs and continue to move this City forward in the direction you choose.”

Suanne Thamm 4Editor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.

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22 Responses to What’s to become of the Amelia River Golf Course?

  1. Dave Scott says:

    An excellent, well-written factual account of the session that took place last Tuesday. Well done!

    • Faith Ross says:

      Dave, Have you thought about what might happen when there is no one left on the island to read your material?

  2. Jerry Decker says:

    Once again we have a city commissioner making statements which may well COST ME as a city resident. Bantering around tax increases to justify a minority position and exposing taxpayers to potential litigation costs is truly, truly irresponsible if not malfeasant. How did we ever get to this?

    • Faith Ross says:

      Likely the staff will cost you money. No staff members that I know of them told the City Commissioners that our City land development code doesn’t allow a race track or a go kart course. It is important to note that if the Commissioners go ahead and vote to sign the lease for a race track or golf course, they would likely be in violation of the City’s code. THEN the developer could sue them to MAKE them change the City’s land development code to allow race tracks or go cart tracks. Or the citizens could sue the Commissioners for violating the City’s code and/or the City’s comprehensive plan. Either way, you would pay. Talk to City staff about law suits. They fail to read our own ordinances, codes, and comprehensive plan. Commissioners might be able to make some informed decisions if they actually received some “professional” advice from staff.

  3. Nancy Dickson says:

    Oh, golly. Yet once again. So someone has decided to invest their time and money in a development that will further rape the island – a go cart track?? really? So because they have chosen to do this, the city is now supposed to lie down and let them do what they want to do no matter how much devastation is caused. Otherwise, oh no, there might be a law suit. Maybe those who support an island that is not clear cut should threaten a law suit. Might that make the city pay attention to other than developers?n

  4. Gerald Decker says:

    I think we have plenty of trees so we don’t need to worry about having a “clear cut” island in any of our lifetimes or those of out grandkids, for that matter. Peace please, lets focus on the islands REAL problems, not imaginary ones….affordable housing, high taxes, beach erosion, misguided civic projects, etc.

  5. Steven Crounse says:

    Thank you Suanne, for a fine reporting job on the Amelia River Golf course proposed development. It didn’t surprise me in the least that the first person to speak was a Lawyer for the “aggrieved” Shaffied Family,(owners of the lease on the property), and how this discussion will affect their business in a negative way. Even though, they have sent a letter to their membership of the Amelia River Golf Course informing them that the Golf Course will be Closing in Dec. of 2019.!! This Conversation at our City Commission Meeting “Blindsided” no one. This conversation needed to happen between our commissioners and the folks they report to; City Residence, and by the way Island residence that are in the County.( Can I hear it for a one governmental body that covers the entire Island, It’s time.) This is actually the time for our community, and our Commissioners to come together before this project get legs, and can not be rained in. Insanity.

    • Mrs. D. Hunter says:

      Steve, I too salute Suanne’s exhaustive report here, she’s an exceptional reporter. Yes, the attorney for Sheffield not only led the rostrum of speakers but did so with a clear threat [of tortious interference, I believe it was], which set the tone for Tammy having to turn around and issue her gag order.

      For those of us members at ARGC, we were elated that Leggett’s first idea was to keep the golf course, improve it to resort conditions [since the leaseholder has let the course slide during the time it was listed for sale], add a hotel and a golf school. Elated! But when Leggett did his 180 changing the project scope from golf-centric to a car-centric playground, we were crushed.

      Meanwhile, other enterprising area courses [including North Hampton, Ritz and Omni] have made timely offers to join their golf program at special rates. If members are leaving ARGC, it’s not because they’re bolting to the City course [as was the intended rationale behind the switch from golf to cars], it’s because more attractive options have multipled.

      Question for the community: why is there no uproar that the Mayor Commissioner continues to sit in on these negotiations involving his boss? The Mayor is a key employee in the Sheffield Hospitality empire and, as such, should have recused himself from these negotiations long before now, but is there any doubt that he must recuse himself before the final vote is taken?

  6. Faith Ross says:

    My thoughts only: A professional staff (step 1) would have told each Commissioner that a racetrack and a go-cart track are not permitted in the City’s Land Development Code. IF the Commission wanted to change the Land Development Code then . . . Step 2 would have been to change the Land Development Code, etc. before anyone even gets to a lease discussion. There is a reason why there may be a lack of trust with City staff. After Amelia Bluff’s “mistake”, and after reading the City ordinances, there was also a “mistake” with Amelia Park. I agree we should not be spending tax payer money on lawsuits. However, when the “mistakes” are created by staff, one has the right to distrust staff. I want to thank the Sheffield family for bringing their lease ideas to the public. We all want a fiscally sound City. We are all in this community together and want what is best for the City as a whole. But the public needs to know that the lease money will go entirely to the airport, and a fraction of the tax revenue will come to the City (the majority goes to Nassau County). I wish staff was more forthcoming with our codes and ordinances so that we may regain the trust of the community in implementing our Comprehensive Plan and following our own ordinances.

  7. Frank Marone says:

    When we take 175 acres of a potential great golf course and cast in aside the city commisioners need to look at viable alternatives to maintain this gem which has no roooftops and could be an outstanding city or county unicipal golf course. The problematic and sad “City Course” is abysmal and quitr frankly not manyy people find that course of interest. So why not close that course and make it a jogging park or anything green. The new proposal for the excentric auto and airplnae collage, racetrack etc; needs to be backed up by a detailed independently prepared feasibility study by a top 5 firm as to cost, impact, financing, purpose, financial returns and funding. If the project fails the owner of the property will leave a sight that restricts future purposes and it’s a qustionable project without detailed financial data. Besides the preposterousness of the project, why would we want this honky tonk gimmicktry on our pristine island; even currently we are overwhelmed with traffic,; just sit near the Shave Bridge in the morniing and you will be appalled with the staggering traffic. Do we need more? This city counsel letting this get out of hand and greed by the city commisioners makes me quiver; find a way to get a Hotel with a premier golf course. There’s a WHITE KNIGHT out there and it’s CLUBCORP and ROBERT DEDMAN; who could make sense out of this great opportunity; Amelia Island lost one course on the south end and losing another will impact economic activity.

  8. Betsie Huben says:

    The City of Fernandina Beach, “via the airport”, owns all the land being discussed. And by the City, I do mean the city’s taxpayers. Each of the City Commissioners was elected to represent the city’s taxpayers in any and all matters affecting them. I expect my elected representatives to be involved in the all discussions, technical and policy, taking place with the assistance of the city attorney and city manager. The city taxpayers too have a complete right to know both about the policy issues and the technical issues. If the anyone wants to be upset with someone about all of this getting out to the public, they need to look no further than Mr. Leggett himself. It was Mr. Leggett who put this out in the public domain with his very public appearances at advisory committee meetings. Did anyone seriously think that the taxpayers would just sit back and let him roll on with the proposal once he started the slides, particularly when it was clear that it was anything but a golf course project now? I would hope that for the sake of the citizens who foot the bills, all of the discussions – technical and policy – surrounding this matter will continue to be put out into the light of day just as Mr. Lednovich has done. Respectfully, it’s called transparency.

    • Mrs. D. Hunter says:

      Betsie, your FB page linking followers to Folio Magazine’s expose’ on Steve Leggett was an eye-opener, as is a quick visit to Leggett’s website yielding this from his mission statement: “….we are uniquely qualified to navigate complex political and regulatory hurdles to obtain the necessary zoning, and governmental approvals.” We can see that you are “uniquely qualified” Mr. Leggett, but are our commissioners equally qualified to recognize the headlights from an oncoming bulldozer.

    • Dave Lott says:

      Betsie, you continue to misinform with your characterization of city taxpayer funds and the airport property (both aeronautical and that which has been released but whose revenue flows to the airport’s enterprise fund. No taxpayer ad valorem taxes are spent at the airport. In fact, the value of non-navigation land usage (soccer and baseball fields, dredge spoils disposal) and income (ARGC) far exceeds any normal operational costs incurred by the City in support of the airport.

      Mr. Leggett’s initial appearance before the Airport Advisory Committee was the proper procedure to follow and then after the AAC before the City Commission. Mr. Leggett could not have appeared before the CC without the approval of the City Manager or a Commissioner.

      I am not a lawyer but after reading the current lease, I don’t see where the City has any right for an early termination of the lease without due cause (i.e. default of payments, illegal operations) unless the Sheffields agree to the terms of an early termination. And based on the most recent comments, the City’s offer was considered so “low ball” that it was insulting. Nassau Co. Property Appraiser has the taxable appraised value of the improvements at $1.2 million.

      Now as to the assignment of the lease to another party. If the operation were to stay a golf course, that could certainly be done easily as has been done at least once in the past when the original development went into default. Again, reading the original 1994 lease that the Sheffields took over, the lease does not restrict the improvements to a golf course but states that “at a minimum…” they would build the 18-hole course, cart paths, clubhouse, cart barn and furnishings. The land is zoned IA and lodging is permitted subject to supplemental standards as would be the T-Hangars. The “garages” could be argued to be a type of self-storage facility since overnight accommodations would not be permitted. Now the road track and go-kart track are another matter.

      It will be interesting to see how this moves forward. I personally don’t favor the road course or go karts, but how can anyone be against a bowling alley?

      • Betsie Huben says:

        Respectfully Mr. Lott – the city owns the land being discussed at ARGC. Any land that belongs to the city ultimately belongs to its taxpaying citizens. As I currently understand it, the ARGC makes lease payments to the city which end up in the airport enterprise fund in the amount of $200K per year. I do indeed apologize for any mis-characterization on my part but, that which is otherwise not supposed to be connected would certainly seem to be connected as the airport enterprise fund accepts that lease money. Are citizens paying directly through their tax bill to the airport enterprise fund – nope. Are they paying indirectly – would suggest this is all very murky at best when the lease payments do indeed make their way from the city to the enterprise fund. With regard to Mr. Leggett at AAC, the original proposal was for a golf course resort. At what point did the current lease negotiations with the city begin; before, during or after the project morphed from golf resort to road course resort? How can lease negotiations by the city continue to operate successfully if the project itself can or does continue to evolve with each successive meeting? Would suggest a definitive “packet” needs to be put together before anything is promoted anywhere and perhaps the FAA should be Mr. Leggett’s first stop in the process. If nothing else, bet they will want to hear all about the berm/garage sound barrier idea. I have lots of questions about the zoning involved in all of these conversations (how is a golf course IA and not recreational) but hopefully those never need to be asked.

        • Dave Lott says:

          Betsie, let me first say I agree with a number of your points about the zoning and what is and isn’t permitted. To clarify Faith Ross’s initial comment, a road track and a go-kart track are not explicitly listed as being permitted but neither are they explicitly listed under any zoning category; so they could be added with a modification to the LDC.
          As to the non-aeronautical part of the airport property being IA instead of Recreational, I believe this is due to the fact that the property is restricted in terms of usage and sales option. I don’t believe the City is permitted to sell the land whereas they can sell land that is zoned recreational after approval of a voter referendum. The IA zoning also extends to privately owned properties around the airport including the O’Conner property as they thought at one time of building a hotel on the property.
          As to the flow of funds through the City to the enterprise fund, that is how all the enterprise funds work. The City does not take any portion of the funds but passes 100% of the monies into the enterprise fund. I just wanted to reiterate that no taxpayer funds are used in support of the airport operations (unlike the golf course and marina) as a number of people wrote when the new terminal was being built that taxpayer’s monies were involved.

  9. Gerald Decker says:

    Unfortunately, the damage to the city (taxpayer) may already have been done. By Lednovich “poisoning the well” the leaseholder could take legal action. Look, the proposal was going to be publically presented and we the public would certainly have had the right to comment–transparency, and public accountability as it should be. Why could Lednovich not let the process take its course….now we are at risk…..someone please help our elected officials do their job correctly.

  10. Steven Crounse says:

    Since both properties, the Amelia River Golf Course, and The Fernandina Municipal Airport belong to the City of Fernandina Beach, they both fall under all rules and regulations of this Municipality. Restrictions as to noise decibels levels, (sustained noise of 85 db. is harmful to humans, and speed limits on all City properties are on the books, or can be enacted by our City Commission. (35 mph sound good). Exemptions for the landing strips at our airport can be regulated. Any new leases of City (residence) owned lands, should be leased with restrictions, that something like this can never happen again. Golf Course, Hotel, Olympic size pool. Great.! Race track, 150 garages, Go-Kart, Somewhere off this Island. At least 5 miles away.

    • Frank Marone says:

      I with you on off island as this auto mall belongs around I95

    • Vince Cavallo says:

      The land comprising the airport which was surplused to the city came with deed restrictions. As I understand it, the sole authority on releasing those restrictions is with the federal property agency and FAA. IMO, the original proposal to place the hotel had to be moved toward airport parkway because its placement would have run into the airport master plan calling for the lengthening of a runway and airplane arrestor for over runs. So, with this level of discussion which has gone on, why should not these “plans” become public. Is this going to be another of those the deal is done, let’s discuss it now?? Seems like the main concern from our commission, is how much money can the city generate from this land. Ya see, nationally it has become common knowledge that most of these donated airport properties, properties which were ceded to operate as an airport, cannot make money without delving into non aeronautical income. There are even seminars for developers about this “opportunity”. It seems the residents have to put up with schemes to make them profitable and “developers” arise to take advantage.

      • Frank Marone says:

        Like your comments; and once the commission reviews wverything they will be looking out to $$$$ for their pensions. They have no consistency in making the Island, the paradise that it shoud be. While tey have been lost on the riverfront projects, this 175 acre greenery and golf course needs to continue and the City course, being what it is; wil never be a touristic course.

  11. Donna Green says:

    Remember, there is the Florida Sunshine Law and sunlight is the best disinfectant, so by all means keep the public aware of what is going on with the City Commission at all times.

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