Fernandina Observer follow up on the CRA: And then there were none

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm

Reporter-News Analyst

City Manager Joe Gerrity

After reading the most recent email exchange between Fernandina Beach City Manager Joe Gerrity and developer Dick Goodsell, it appears that the only private project under development for the city’s riverfront Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) has now been shelved indefinitely.

An April 23, 2013 post entitled Does the City of Fernandina Beach want riverfront development?  contained my interview with developer Dick Goodsell on his proposed project for the city’s CRA.  In that post I referenced an email Goodsell had sent to Fernandina Beach City Manager Joe Gerrity on February 19, 2013.  During the interview, Goodsell informed me that he had received no communication from Gerrity or any of the city commissioners regarding that email. 

Following the post, City Manager Gerrity contacted Mr. Goodsell, and Goodsell replied.  Their email exchange appears below:

Goodsell property located along North Front Street
Goodsell property located along North Front Street

On Apr 23, 2013, at 1:54 PM, Joe Gerrity wrote:

Mr. GoodsellPlease accept my apology for not responding earlier to your email [of February 19, 2013]. I just read the interview in the Fernandina Observer, and for whatever reason I did not think you were expecting an answer. I am honored that you remember me from our conservations in 2003 when I was Mayor of Fernandina Beach.

Sometime we change directions on funding and what our priorities are here in Fernandina Beach, and I understand your reluctance to proceed with your project. I just want you to know that I am committed to finding funds for a sidewalk down Alachua and across Front Street, as well as quiet crossings for the Centre and Ash Street intersections.

Again, please excuse the tardiness of my reply, and I look forward to speaking/seeing to you in the near future.


Joe Gerrity


Dick Goodsell
Dick Goodsell

From: Richard (Dick) Goodsell

 Sent: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 10:22 AM

 To: Joe Gerrity

Joe….. You are correct and you owe me no apology. There was no request for a response in my email of Feb. 19 which was written for the commissioners. After the commissioners voted to return the monies that would have been for Front Street infrastructure as well as accompanying comments there was no need for a written response to me. Their message was very clear…….Three of the commissioners did not want to spend any money that let a single developer “get rich” at the City’s expense. With this mentality we will be looking at an industrial brownfield until we get a more enlightened leadership. Meanwhile my property will [remain] in its present underutilized condition.

Your statement “Sometimes Fernandina Beach changes directions and funding what our priorities are” is a sad understatement so until you have a consistent vision and funding, I do not want to waste my time and more money on development plans….. Dick Goodsell

There are no public records indicating that any Fernandina Beach City Commissioner has had email exchanges with Dick Goodsell since the FO article was posted last week. 

With Goodsell’s placing his project on hold, it would appear that there are now no  prospects for CRA development on the horizon at this time.

Suanne-2Editor’s Note:  Suanne Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved toFernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city.  We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.

April 30, 2013 1:55 p.m.

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Sandra Baker-Hinton
Sandra Baker-Hinton(@sbhsandrabaker-hinton-com)
11 years ago

It is hard not to comment on the situation even though I live in the county and cannot vote. I as a business owner am held hostage though, by the ridiculous short sightedness of the current set of commissions at least the 3 who seem to vote against everything that would make this a better place to live. Even when we get a forward thinking action it is reversed when we get the next batch of commissioners. A friend once said to me as we sat on the porch at Bretts, “ahh, Fernandina Beach, it never changes…because we have a city commission which can never make a decision.” and I might add “a decision that is intelligent at least”.