Beach “Harmonization” Passes — But to the City’s Tune

By Mike Lednovich

A “harmonization plan” for all seven of the beach parks on Amelia Island — including three in the city and partially funded by the Tourist Development Council — was amended and approved by the city commission Tuesday.

The city parks that would be impacted are North Beach, Main Beach and Seaside Park. The TDC beach harmonization plan has received negative feedback — including several speakers Tuesday — for catering to tourists and not meeting the needs of city residents.

The TDC designer EDSA’s conceptual plan document states “The harmonization effort is to create a cohesive group of beach parks serving infrastructural and aesthetic purposes. The infrastructure at all beach parks – structures, facilities, way-finding, pedestrian comfort facilities, etc – are outdated and/or missing from both the city of Fernandina Beach and Nassau County beach parks.”

Commissioner Chip Ross successfully added an amendment to the harmonization resolution “that the city commission in public meetings will have the opportunity to approve design elements and construction and all improvements at city-owned beach parks prior to Nassau County expending Tourist Development tax dollars on city park design and improvements.

“I want to make it perfectly clear that we’re not approving that (EDSA) concept plan and that we’re willing to have the opportunity to work with the county to get the things the city as a whole wants and not embrace that plan as written,” Ross said.

The amended resolution passed 5-0.

EDSA’s design at the city beach parks came under heavy criticism by both citizens and city commissioners when it was unveiled in 2022.

Several speakers addressed the commission and urged them to reject the resolution.

“I’m concerned with the objectivity of the study (plans) done by the TDC,” said Dale Spencer. “The agency creates more tourism. Their objectivity is on making more tourism. We’re going to get to the point where we just can’t function. We can’t get around (because of the tourists) because it’s all jammed up.”

Susan Donovan lives near North Beach Park and expressed concerns about new parking spaces and other additions harming the natural beach habitat.

“We were told by the city employees that this is a protected natural habitat that non-native species cannot be encroached on,” she said. “We also ask for the opportunity to make sure in the future planning that there is a buffer where hundreds of people will be walking.”

Mayor Bradley Bean said it was an opportunity for the city to work with Nassau County – which controls bed tax revenues collected by the TDC – to use a portion of bed tax funds.

“This is a win, win, win all the way around,” Bean said.

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1 year ago

If you actually go read the actual ‘Harmonization Plan’ you will understand why the Mayor believes this is a Win Win Win for all involved. Don’t believe everything you read or in watch in the news. Go read the entire plan for yourself so you can judge for yourself based on ALL the details. This goes for everything related to local state and national policies. It’s a very bad idea to base your perspective in general only on what you read or watch on news sources these days as they all come with their own bias.

Last edited 1 year ago by missyjean
1 year ago
Reply to  missyjean

I did read the plan. It is a win-win thanks in part to the Ross amendment that gives the City the right to reject specific designs–for example, designs that include impervious surfaces, which are praised as “durable” in the plan (despite survey findings showing we do not want them). For those who wish to read the plan, it is here:

Betsie Huben
Famed Member
Betsie Huben(@betsie-huben)
1 year ago
Reply to  missyjean

Not only have many of us read the plan documents, many of us participated in surveys and other information gathering prior to the publication of the materials. Three cheers for Commissioner Ross for making sure there will be city input and controls over what gets done. He is 100% right when he notes the Tourist Development Council has very different goals than our city residents.

Mark Tomes
Trusted Member
Mark Tomes(@mtomes)
1 year ago

The very premise of the plan is all wrong. No “harmonization” (actually, they mean homogenization) is needed. Every park should have its own identity based on its location, its own offerings, and its own needs. Harmony occurs when different musicians play different melodies or rhythms, but they blend well. What the TDC wants (yes, I read the plan) is for each park to look the same. This white bread, DisneyWorld approach is boring and unnatural.

Active Member
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Tomes

Mark usually don’t agree with your opinions but on this one I totally agree.