Commentary: It’s No Wetland — It’s a Mud Bank That Could Be a Park

By Bob Allison

City citizens who have read the waterfront plan I provided to the city back in 2017 know that I have presented a well-reasoned case for the relocation of the city’s bulkheads to create more usable land on the city’s waterfront. Downtown needs more green space west of Front Street.

By installing new bulkheads at the marina’s edge to replace the existing bulkheads that are old and failing, several acres of new green space can be added to the city’s waterfront. All that is required is filling in behind the new bulkheads.

The objections to this presented by Commissioner Chip Ross are little more than his own personal opinions. Unfortunately, these opinions are not supported by facts. First, the commissioner described the land under the water at the marina as “Sovereign Lands of the State of Florida,” which they are not. Second, he went on to state, ”Many years ago, it may have been possible to fill wetlands….however it requires intense permitting from the Saint Johns River Management District, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The filling of wetlands is prohibited by the Fernandina Beach Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code.”

Commissioner Ross is correct to state the filling of wetlands requires a permit but he might want to take a quick look at Rule 62-340 of the Florida Administrative Code to learn the definition of a “wetland.” He would discover that in the absence of “a prevalence of vegetation described as hydrophytic,” no land in the State of Florida can be legally determined to be a wetland.

The single most important city property for the creation of a true waterfront park is the tidal city-owned land between Centre and Ash Streets or the property south of Brett’s to south of the boat ramp. This property is not “sovereign lands of the State of Florida.” Take a walk and look. This is no wetland. It’s a mud bank, and it sits squarely in the middle of the most valuable property owned by the city of Fernandina Beach.

Citizens might want to communicate to their city commissioners their preference for how they want to see this property used: mud bank or city park? A new bulkhead can be installed alongside the marina. Fill can be placed behind this new bulkhead, and the city can see nearly an acre of new green space added to the waterfront. With a little landscaping and a few shade trees installed, this is the perfect location for the waterfront park citizens have been clamoring about for decades.

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Bob Allison
Bob Allison(@bob-allison)
1 year ago

Mike, I wish you could have shown the picture that was attached to my submission. It was taken at low tide when the mud bank was in full view. Maybe you can add this later. If folks visit the marina at high tide, this stinky mud bank will be under a couple of feet of water and will be impossible to see.

Bob Allison
Bob Allison(@bob-allison)
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Phillips

Got it Mike, If folks are interested in seeing a picture of the Mud Bank they can find one in the NewsLeader.

Robert Warner
Robert Warner (@guest_67049)
1 year ago

What is a “wetland”? What happens when one fills in a “wetland” without authority?,

TDawg (@guest_67051)
1 year ago
Capt. Lawrence Piper
Capt. Lawrence Piper (@guest_67060)
1 year ago

The mudbank will be there forever unless something like this was done. I don’t mind more green space. I would even support some small shops, with boardwalk and plenty of access to the waterfront. Adamantly opposed to a bandshell, playground equipment and those frigging Pentanque courts.
The boat should be relocated somewhere else? But where?