A Get ‘er Done Evening with the Redevelopment Board

By Mike Phillips

The members of the Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board (CRAAB) were presented Thursday evening with a can that they don’t think needs to be kicked down the road.

It’s a piece of waterfront land that has almost been protected from flooding, almost worked into a parking lot with the same spaces that were there all along and a hefty 27% increase in green space that is quite possible.

It’s the land known as Parking Lots C & D, the land that runs from the southern marsh where the shrimp boats dock, north to the launch ramp for boaters.

Board member Eric Bartelt presented the draft plan after a presentation from Mayor Walter Duke of Dania, Florida, who said that improving down-at-the-heels Dania started with “taking that first bite.” The unspoken message was that Fernandina Beach has a waterfront opportunity that could be another “first bite.”

Here are the highlights of Bartelt’s presentation:

  • 74 code-compliant parking spaces, just as always.
  • 10 pull-through spaces for boaters, just as always.
  • Room for 74 temporarary petanque courts for the big annual tournament, just as always.
  • Finish the southern piece of the waterfront walkway northward to the boat ramp.
  • Open up opportunities for creative use of a 27% increase in green space between the parking and the riverfront walkway.
  • Offer a space for a restaurant or other services.
  • And, as Mayor Duke proposed in his presentation, take a bite out of our waterfront issues that helps the rest of the job pick up steam.

The board asked plenty of questions and posed some alternative design tweaks. But in the end, it voted unanimously to get this piece of the waterfront project up and running. The next step will be a presentation to the city commission.

Cost: From the city’s finance staff and relayed by committee member Bartelt, $95,000.

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Mark Tomes
Trusted Member
Mark Tomes(@mtomes)
9 months ago

Most of the plan sounds good, but I suggest foregoing any new commercial establishment space on the waterfront, including a restaurant. The latter will increase vehicular traffic (opposite of a space for what should be primarily for pedestrians), take away green space, add more pavement, add more chemical and bacterial pollution to the river, add more noise and light pollution, hurt downtown businesses, and be a first step (one we should avoid) in further commercializing the waterfront.

Alan Hopkins
Noble Member
Alan Hopkins(@dawaves)
9 months ago

The CRAAB committee is made up of volunteers. They care about the community. They care about the waterfront. They give a lot of time and effort to try to make what they see as positive considerations to the council. Nonetheless I know for a fact that have no power. 

While I was chair the council presented the idea of going from quarterly meetings for thier CRAAB to semi-annual or annual meetings. That was the last straw for me. I realized then just how unserious they were about taking recommendations and how little time they had for it. They will do what they want to do regardless of all the efforts of the CRAAB committee. Maybe that’s a good thing but I have my doubts. 

As for this recommendation it sounds very similar to what was proposed before. Hope the council takes this more serious than they have others.

We should have a world class waterfront. We are far from that. 

Millions of dollars were spent on a waterfront barrier that is half done. In other words it protects nobody from anything. 

The Petanque courts are sitting on some of the most valuable piece of real estate in the entire city. And as far as I can tell it is enjoyed by less than 1% of the city’s population. Not exactly the best use of a one of our most desirable public assets. How about moving them to the city park? 

The biggest problem with development of the waterfront is that roughly half the property is public and half is private. There needs to be meaningful movement in having this city work hand and glove with the private property owners to develop the waterfront so it can be a world-class facility for ALL of us. 

I’m not holding my breath.