American Beach update: Water, sewer hookup still on hold

Submitted by Anne H. Oman

June 19, 2014 5:00 p.m.

Efforts by the American Beach Property Owners Association to obtain county water and sewer services for the community are still in limbo, according to association president Sherald Wilson.

American Beach Water System, owned and operated by Bobby Dollison

At present, most of the approximately 200 residents of the historic, primarily African-American enclave use private wells and septic tanks. A few, who live on the south end near Burney Park, are connected to Nassau County water and sewer lines. Others get their water from the American Beach Water System, owned and operated by Bobby Dollison, who also runs American Beach Villas, a residential motel.

The catalyst that sparked the effort to obtain county services was a letter sent by Mr. Dollison to his customers in February 2013 informing them that he would stop supplying water as of July 1, 2013. He later reversed himself and vowed to continue service if he received of a grant of about $150,000 to make needed repairs. As far as could be determined, no grant has been received.  (Click here for previous story)

At the request of the American Beach Property Owners Association, Nassau County funded a study to determine the cost of connecting the community to county water and sewer services. The study estimated the cost per lot at $16,924.

According to Cathy Lewis, Senior Financial Management Analyst for the county, this would be “before financial and other costs required to complete the water and sewer project.”

One of many American Beach family homes passed down from one generation to the next.
One of many American Beach family homes passed down from one generation to the next.

Property owners would have to pay this cost. The project will only go ahead if 51 percent of all the property owners – not just the members of the association – vote to fund it. If the vote is “yes”, all property owners will have to share the cost and pay monthly assessments over a 15-year period. This vote has not yet taken place because, according to Mr. Wilson, of the property owner’s group, the proposal for financing secured from a commercial bank was not satisfactory.

“The proposal terms for repayment of the loan at 15 years would have resulted in an annual assessment was too high,” he said.

“While we were disappointed, the program is not dead,” he added. “The county will continue to search for more financing with more favorable terms. In addition, they are continuing to look for grants that will fund the project completely or in part. So while the project may appear to be at a standstill at this time, we are working diligently to obtain an annual assessment that is affordable.”

Editor’s Note: Anne H. Oman relocated to Fernandina Beach from Washington, D.C. Her articles have appeared in The Washington Post, The Washington Star, The Washington Times, Family Circle and other publications. We thank Anne for her contributions to the Fernandina Observer.

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Madeline Richard
Madeline Richard (@guest_19874)
9 years ago

American Beach owners need a representative to coordinate with the County to get this issue solved. The cost of well and septic make it really difficult for lot owners to develop their land. Too bad Ms. Betsch isn’t here any more.

Dave Lott
Dave Lott(@dave-l)
9 years ago

A bit confused about the comment by the county finance person. If the county performed the study what other costs are there? Should that have been “finance” instead of “financial”?