Amelia Island officials go to public with major beach, tourism projects

By Wes Wolfe
May 6, 2022

Those plans include a unified vision for the island’s beaches.

With such a large amount of Nassau County’s economy dependent on tourism — especially beach tourism — Amelia Island officials are reaching out to residents and visitors to plan for a prosperous future. Those plans include a unified vision for the island’s beaches and a kind of master plan for future tourism.

“As you’re aware, the (Amelia Island Convention and Visitors Bureau) and the (Amelia Island Tourism Development Council) are helping to manage two projects on behalf of Nassau County — the beach park harmonization project being led by EDSA, and the tourism strategic planning destination development project with JLL,” said Amy Boek, Chief Marketing Officer of the Bureau, at the latest Council meeting.

“To make it easy for our community to get involved and provide their input, we have created a new website, Both of these projects are housed on that website, where you have information about the overview of the projects, as well as links to the survey. The most important part for both these projects is that we get input from our community on what they want and what they envision for Nassau County and the Amelia Island beaches.”

These surveys will be open for two months. The beach harmonization project is to develop, as the name indicates, a unified long-term vision and plan for the island’s seven beach parks — North Beach, Main Beach, Seaside Park, Peters Point, Burney Park, the Scott Road Access Point and the South Road Access.

The beach harmonization project doesn’t address beach driving, a hot-button issue for some. One side advocates for more environmental conservation and erosion prevention — things taxpayers are on the hook for remediating. The other side is prioritizing access and convenience.

Other than the intention to specifically not deal with beach driving, planning at this point is open and without a lot of specifics. Tourism and destination planning, following a parallel path, is also in its early steps.

“The goal of Nassau Next — a Tourism Strategy and Destination Project — is to create a roadmap for the future of Nassau County and enhancing the tourism economy,” according to the project website. “Positioning new areas of the county will help to capture an increased share of tourism spending while maintaining the momentum that currently exists on Amelia Island. The project will deliver a 10-year roadmap for creating jobs, expanding the economy and improving quality of life for visitors and residents.”

The long-term planning is at a kind of pivot point for island tourism, building on prior years of work among different county boards.

“You know, I was brought here 15 years ago with the direction to take the destination to the next step,” CVB President and CEO Gil Langley said.

“We’ve been fortunate with the support of the County Commission and the TDC over the years. We’ve been able to build a world-class team that’s delivered a world-class product. Just in the past eight years, to give you an example, taxable sales were $92 million for the entire year — we’ve topped that number in the first six months of the year this year, and that’s because of the support we’ve gotten.”

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Nancy Dickson
Nancy Dickson(@nancyjackathenshotmail-com)
2 years ago

So what will it take for planners to ‘address’ beach driving and parking? Will running over another sunbather do it? Maiming or killing a child playing on the beach? All certainly probable given the bad mix of people and cars in what is usually considered a safe zone for people.

Larry Ogilvie
Larry Ogilvie (@guest_64946)
2 years ago

With an additional 25,000 homes being built in the next 20 years within 15 miles of our beaches, where will they park? A solution is right in front of you. One of the safest places to drive and park is on the beach. It may never happen, however, increasing parking on the beach becomes a no brainer. It is terrible that someone was injured or killed by an unsafe driver, however over the last 50 years very few people have been injured going to the beaches on Amelia Island. It keeps the roadways safe by providing parking on the beach.

Jason Collins
Jason Collins(@jc18holes)
2 years ago
Reply to  Larry Ogilvie

Well said Larry. We have very little beach parking / driving as it is now and it is in tightly restricted designated and well marked areas. If someone gets run over it would be the same as getting hit by a car J Walking. We NEED a little more beach parking and driving!

Vince cavallo
Vince cavallo(@grandvin)
2 years ago

My life is fine. We don’t need more development. The only ones who seem to thrive in a build out are out of county hotel chains and developers.

The sole reason beach driving is viewed as inconsistent with the “survey” is it is one issue only germane to residents.

I question how drawing more tourists increases employment opportunities beyond low paying service sector.

A Hughes
A Hughes(@ahefterhughes)
2 years ago
Reply to  Vince cavallo

I agree that employment opportunities should be explored at the county level that are not based on tourism. Opportunities for manufacturing, transportation, and distribution west of Amelia Island would provide a better environment for young families who want to establish homes in Nassau County. The answer is not pushing more people over the bridge to the beaches…. On another note, I’ve seen some of the Amelia Island tourism videos/commercials, and I’m happy to say they show mostly marsh scenes and don’t even touch on the beaches.

Robert W Morris
Robert W Morris (@guest_64949)
2 years ago

I hope the plans include a fishing pier at American beach

Betsie Huben
Betsie Huben(@betsie-huben)
2 years ago

What feels painfully absent in all of this is any real focus on the taxpaying citizens who dollars support all the various aspects of the care of our seven beaches. As stated in the article, there will be no serious attempt to address the elephant in the room which is the lingering issue of on-beach parking and driving. My guess is that plans which include a unified vision to increase shares of “tourism spending and maintain the momentum for tourism that currently exists” on Amelia will meet with a resounding “thanks but, no thanks”. As a barrier island, Amelia has finite boundaries and limits. I predict residents will say we have stretched those limits to a breaking point and we should not continue to push the boundaries. Doing so exacts it’s own painful costs. The real question is – will those who have power and control of the beaches be listening to residents or to tourists?

Robert W. Morris
Robert W. Morris (@guest_64956)
2 years ago

I think a fishing pier at american beach operated by the county would stop a lot of beach driving. and the county would make a ton of money. all coastal cities

Robert S. Warner, Jr.
Robert S. Warner, Jr. (@guest_64960)
2 years ago

Wonder what the value of the Navy’s free sand from dredging the channel for King’s Bay is worth – since Fernandina Beach is the sponsor.

Paul Lore
Paul Lore (@guest_64965)
2 years ago

Why do we always believe that beach capacity must increase when outside development increases? Small barrier islands can stay small even when the outside world grows from human construction. Treasure the preservation of an escape getaway instead of another overgrown place in the world.

Robert Warner
Robert Warner (@guest_64966)
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Lore

Paul – It’s exploitation, speculation, and looting made real by today’s techniques of financial engineering – fueled by marketing, large wads of “cash” (good and bad) and ” securities sales involving bundling slices of what used to be called real estate in tranches defined by debt quality. Slice, dice, market forms of condos, time shares as securities. We got rick rolled by changes in Florida’s Bert Harris Act removing “bona fide” from “appraisals” and adding the risk of adding loser costs and attorney fees to already overwhelmed local government land use decisions where loss is essentially transferred to the local taxpayer.

James (@guest_65253)
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Lore

When was the last time the County or City bought oceanfront property to create more beach for the more homes that keep getting built.

Michael Carabetta
Michael Carabetta (@guest_64967)
2 years ago

I can’t believe we are paying someone for a flawed beach survey. The survey makes you provide an answer for every question. For example “What is your biggest complaint with the beach parks as they are now? I don’t have any complaints but it won’t let you submit the survey with out an answer. Also there is a question about when you use the beaches. You have to select weekday or weekend. You are not allowed to say both. Totally novice data collection using Google Forms. And this is going to be used to guide our future?

AICVB (@guest_64990)
2 years ago

Thank you for the feedback, Michael. The survey has been adjusted where applicable to include a “none” option and to allow multiple responses.

Dale Fanzo
Dale Fanzo (@guest_64971)
2 years ago

We moved here from phoenix because we loved the laid back Island feel not like. We rented in Tarpon Springs and Hernando Beach and found the traffic and build up all around was not our retirement years place to live. Prior to living in Phoenix we lived 20 years in Va. Beach in an area when we built called Sandbridge. It was home to 100 of us all year round and very laid back with very little traffic. All our business’s were locally owned like myself with a Frozen Yogurt shop of 15 years. I was offered to make my shop a DQ or Subway and said no it’s a family I owned business in a family style beach. Then a new aggressive city council came in with an ego expanding the green belt which was agricultural to more homes and business’s closer and closer to Sandbridge. Now you have 8-10 bedroom rental homes and traffic backed up with only one way in and outs. I hope they keep Amelia Island the way it is so we can enjoy what many have over the years here.

Mark Gee
Mark Gee (@guest_64973)
2 years ago

As long as I can remember my family been in Nassau county Callahan Florida since the early 60s, yes things needed to be improve the new changes but we need to stop building save for the future quit being so greedy loving the dollar we need to start loving each other and taking care of one another cuz I promise you you cannot take this money with you and your greedy government will end up with it all so I say stop being greedy and love thy neighbor, I know we need new and modern things but if you keep building on that island it will sink and you will lose it all….

Faith Ross
Faith Ross(@faith-ross)
2 years ago

I wish we could elect Commissioners who want to keep the island “laid back”. Listened to one the other night extol the virtues of a townhouse development in the floodplain on the river. Yep, don’t even have to worry about the folks coming over the bridge. Commissioners are going to fill up the island roads with traffic. Won’t have to worry about tourism. There will be nothing for tourism to sell here.

Christine Harmon
Christine Harmon (@guest_64981)
2 years ago

I find it disheartening to see no mention of the impact all beach goers (tourists and locals) have on marine life and nesting shorebirds and turtles. Amelia Island residents occupy a critical space. They live where land and sea interface. Our trash is causing suffering and death to marine life. People are taking valuable habitat needed by nesting/migratory birds and turtles for their survival. This shortsighted, insensitive, and myopic approach will come back to haunt future generations.

Carrie Nichols
Carrie Nichols (@guest_65002)
2 years ago

With the new jobs estimated what I wonder is, where are all the people employed at these jobs going to live? I am a housekeeper on island, have been for 7 years. My rent has steadily gone up and if this continues I will not be able to afford to live on island. I have to eat and the way rent and gas and everything is going up. The wealthy can live here and the vacationers can come, but at some point if nassau doesn’t give the housekeepers, the valet, the waitress, the cook, the bartender, the hotel worker at the desk. We’re all suffering so bad and no one says a word. But if ya need beds made, house cleaned, a server at a restaurant, the guy washing dishes then rent needs to be affordable to us average invisible people.