September 27, 2019
The Nassau County Beach Community Working Group was formed in December 2018 to take a closer look at issues at the County’s parks and recreation areas along the 13 miles of shoreline on Amelia Island.
That group has met no fewer than 15 times and each meeting has been open to the public. In addition to input received at those meetings, the Working Group has heard from over 1000 citizens and other interested parties, as documented by Kimley Horn, a Jacksonville-based consulting firm, hired to help facilitate the process.
At what many thought would be the last meeting of the working group, such was not to be the case. Instead, another meeting has been scheduled for October 9th from 9am – 12 noon at Commission Chambers. At that time, the group will vote on what will be their recommendations, to be delivered via a report to the Board of County Commissioners at which time, the debate will no doubt begin again.
The group has looked at such issues including:
• the customary use of the beach by the public
• hours for parking, camping and other activities
• driving on the beach
• camping on the beach
• unattended personal property
• dog leashes
• horseback riding
• permits for in-county vs out-of-county residents
Said Michael Mullin, County Attorney/County Manager, at the meeting on September 26th, “Anyone who thinks this is easy, is sadly mistaken.”
The process has been laborious and as described by chair, Gil Langley, certain conversations amounted to “mere wordsmithing.”
On September 26, the committee took a bold move, a move described by Taco Pope, Assistant County Manager, as “the nuclear option.” The committee voted unanimously, by a vote of 5-0, to ban beach driving and beach camping – no fire, no vehicles, no mattresses, no sleeping, etc. etc. — year-round, between the hours of 9pm and 6am – and such will be done to protect public health and safety.
That language will be massaged and put into appropriate legalese and another vote taken before the official report and suggested ordinance is presented to the commissioners.
Most agree that this process has been a result of activities taking place in and around Peters Point.
Members of the committee are:
Gil Langley, Chair, President and CEO of the Amelia Island Tourist Development Council
Mike Mullin, County Attorney/County Manager
Taco Pope, Assistant County Manager
Doug Podiak, Director of Facilities Maintenance
Butch Osborne, Director of Operations Management, Sheriff’s Office
Mac Morriss, Ex-Officio
Lowell Hall, Ex-Officio
Editor’s Note: Born in Hagerstown, Maryland, Cindy received her BA in Political Science from Dickinson College. Upon graduation, Cindy began her career on Capitol Hill working as a legislative aide and director. She later became a part of the public relations and lobbying team of the American Iron and Steel Institute and served as director of the office of state legislative affairs for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). Cindy was involved in economic development with the state of Maryland, and served as executive director of Leadership Washington County. As a community volunteer, Cindy participates in numerous volunteer activities serving as a member of Sunrise Rotary, and as board member of Cummer Amelia Board of Directors.