Commentary: Questions for Michael Lednovich

If elected, what would be your first priority as a new commissioner?

Finishing the city riverbank stabilization and flood control project from the site of Atlantic Seafood north to the new Alachua Street rail crossing.

We must protect the city/island citizens and property from a catastrophic storm, or nothing else on the priority list matters.

What distinguishes you from your opponent?

I’ve been doing the job of commissioner/mayor and getting things done for the past 4 years. I have a voting record of preserving our quality of life, including:

– Voted to purchase and place 30 acres of property into conservation.

– Opposed 100% of the time numerous developers who sought to rezone land to build more then 500 homes and townhouses.

– Introduced and supported an ordinance to ban smoking on city beaches/parks.

– Supported building a new seawall/boardwalk that prevented flooding during the recent storm.

– Voted to block Port of Fernandina expansion into the city’s Historic District.

– Voted against relocating sports fields, tennis courts and pickle ball courts from Central Park.

– Voted against plans to build commercial businesses and an amphitheater along the riverfront.

– Supported strengthening the city’s Tree Ordinance with increased penalties for the illegal removal of trees.

I understand the complexities and needs of the city: 6 miles of beaches; an historic downtown; a marina, an airport; a 27-hole golf course; a cemetery; a lighthouse; 13 parks; city buildings and rec centers; a nearby port; two paper mills, etc.

I’ve been involved in four city budgets, been mayor during a worldwide pandemic and two recent hurricane threats. I have an established relationship with the city manager, city attorney and city clerk and with city department heads.

I am active in the community with the Police Auxiliary, where you’ll see me directing traffic at most parades and events. I am a member of the Beach Ambassadors, helping to remove trash left on the beach during the summer months.

I donate generously and support all of our charitable organizations. I shop and dine locally.

What are the top three important problems the next city commission must solve in the next two years?

As stated earlier, flood protection tops the list. Here are three others:

Upgrading our popular, economically successful downtown, which was originally created in the 1970s: Fixing sidewalks, redoing aging infrastructure under the streets then repaving, replacing troublesome lighting fixtures, improving plantings. This would cost about $15-20 million for renovation. The historic downtown is a major economic engine for the city/island.

Dealing with aging recreational facilities, including structures that inspectors say are on the cusp of being unfit for use. For example, we have set a capital improvement schedule to fund/repair aging/neglected facilities

Replacing a cracking, crumbling city hall building that is in the final stages of being a safe and comfortable place for our 40+ city employees and citizen visitors. The estimated $10-12 million cost to build a new city hall is not in the foreseeable future, given all the needs listed above. We need a $2.5 million estimated repair/renovation to keep current building usable.

Good-faith negotiations for property that are crucial for public projects [roads, seawalls] sometimes simply do not work. In such cases, will you support invoking the law of Eminent Domain — with fair compensation to the landowner?

I fully support the rights of city property owners. The basis for this question is a crucial riverfront parcel the city needs to acquire to complete flood protection for downtown. I support paying the property owner the full amount of the $2.3 million appraised value for the parcel he submitted to the city.

The school board recently passed a bond referendum and the county passed a bond issue for conservation land. In the next two years would you support a general obligation bond issue in the $20-30 million range supporting repair and replacement of aging city infrastructure? If not, why not?

 No, because how much tax burden can we put on our property owners following a one-mill bond by the county and a one-mill bond by the school district? The city needs a plan to finance this incrementally.

Why do you support or oppose the city’s purchase of privately owned, environmentally sensitive property [wet lands, dunes, tree canopy, marsh, wildlife habitat] to persevere that land in conservation for future generations’ enjoyment?

We need to preserve environmentally sensitive land because once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. The environmentally sensitive land is also the island’s natural protection from storm damage. We must always remember we are on a barrier island.

If you believe there is too much development in the city, how would you propose to stop it legally without interfering with property rights?

The Future Land Use Map (FLUM) and the Comprehensive Plan are the schematic for the future development of the City. The Land Development Code (LDC) are the applicable rules for development. We have the Planning Advisory Board (PAB) and the Historic District Council (HDC) to review proposed development plans. Problems arise when requests for deviations from the FLUM, Comp Plan or LDC come into play.

Some people in our community say that we have traffic and parking problems. What do you think? How would you mitigate those concerns or change the situation?

There is no question that we have more traffic. The intersection of 14th and Sadler is a perfect example. Vehicles are backed up on 14th at certain times of the day, and it’s almost impossible to make a left-hand turn west onto Sadler. I would first identify the locations and time of day traffic bottlenecks occur and consider having police officers direct traffic during those high-use hours.

There are 1,192 parking spaces downtown. First, I would lower free parking from three hours to two hours, then start enforcing the time restriction. We also need to have a designated parking area for employees of the downtown businesses.

We could accommodate more parking spaces if we converted both Alachua and Ash into one-way streets.

If you could change one thing in our Land Development Code, what would it be any why?

Actually two things. First, align the LDC with the Comp Plan. Currently they conflict in certain areas. Second, enforce LDC section 1.03.05 to its intended purpose limiting combined platted lots with structures considered the “lot of record.”

If elected, what three steps would you take to put our city on firmer financial footing?

 – Have a fully funded building/infrastructure maintenance plan in place so we avoid emergencies like having to close or remove 12 beach walkovers because they weren’t funded to be maintained properly under previous city commissions.

– Reduce the reliance on consultants and surveys that taxpayers bear the unnecessary costs.

– Have the county contribute its “fair share” for the use and maintenance of city facilities enjoyed by county residents. That would include keeping all Bed Tax funds collected in the city designated for city use to offset the costs of tourists and day trippers.

If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city for any purpose, what would you do with it and why?

Invest in upgrading or building new youth and family activity complexes.

What neighborhood do you live in? Why? Where are your favorite places to spend time in our town?

A: I live in Parkway North on the city golf course. There is a quarter-mile entrance aptly named Canopy Drive that is a magnificent road lined with majestic oaks. I promised myself I would always soak in the experience of driving through the forest near my home.

I spend a lot of time downtown at the coffee shop and the fudge/ice cream store taking my goodies to sit outside in what I call a “Norman Rockwell” moment. Walking along the riverfront refreshes my soul.

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Doug Mowery
Doug Mowery(@douglasm)
1 year ago

From an Aug21 Suanne report:

During negotiations a current appraisal was obtained from Diskin Property Research, a Tallahassee firm selected by the property owners, that valued the property at $2.3M. Because the City believed this valuation to be “highly inflated,” the City in June withdrew its attempt to acquire the property.

Did I just read a reversal of the “highly inflated” $2.3M value in this article? Now there is support to pay it? These constant reversals are what FB citizens find frustrating.

Robert S. Warner, Jr.
Robert S. Warner, Jr. (@guest_66473)
1 year ago

Detailed, knowledgable of the issues, experienced, and competent. Got my vote.

Mark Tomes
Mark Tomes(@mtomes)
1 year ago

Mr. Lednovich shows a mature balance between private property rights and addressing the needs of the community. His experience and community spirit are just what we need in this city.

Al MacDougall
Al MacDougall (@guest_66503)
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Tomes

And……………a lot of unneeded baggage.
I pass… for the AA Team…all the competence, none of the excess weight.

Tom smith
Tom smith(@high-n-dry)
1 year ago

I will never vote for someone who values some people over others. We are not a trans community, black community, gay community, white community, or elderly community, we are just a community that doesn’t want to be divided and pitted against each other.