By Mike Lednovich
The Fernandina Beach City Commission has agreed to partner with Nassau County to purchase 10 acres of airport property now used as softball fields in order to build a new soccer complex.
The current soccer fields at the Ybor-Alvarez Complex are on what is defined as aeronautical obligated property controlled by the Federal Aviation Administration. There is a proposal by a private company to construct airplane hangars and storage units on the soccer field land. The FAA says aviation use of airport land is the priority. The FAA land use mandate means the soccer fields must find a new location.
“The idea is to move the soccer fields to where the current softball fields are located,” said Commissioner Chip Ross at Tuesday’s city commission workshop. “The cost of acquiring the property and building a new soccer complex will be split equally with the city and the county. The city will fund this with previously collected impact fees so there is no tax increase or anything else. The city would own and operate the complex. The airport would no longer own the land.”
The estimated cost of buying the property is $1.8 million, and the estimate for design and construction of the new soccer complex is $1.3 million.
Ross said the first steps of acquiring the land would be to obtain appraisals of the value of the softball fields parcel and then submit a letter to the FAA requesting a release and sale of airport obligated property.
Both the current soccer fields and softball fields were constructed with about $138,000 in grants that would have to be repaid to the state.
Ross said the project would require an interlocal agreement with Nassau County to pay 50% of the land purchase and construction costs.
“We can use impact fields to build (new) softball fields,” said Mayor Bradley Bean. “The city’s half of this (project) will be paid with impact fees which is exactly what they’re for parks and recreation. This is a great way to save our fields and keep Ybor-Alvarez for future generations.”
The next step is for city staff to begin working with Nassau County on the proposal.