Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
June 27, 2015 10:16 a.m.
At the June 26, 2015 Special Meeting of the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC), Fernandina Beach City Manager Joe Gerrity presented city commissioners with an option to place an inflatable water slide east of Putt-Putt at Main Beach contingent on a 3-year lease. He asked commissioners to advise whether they wanted the slide at Main Beach and if the proposed location was acceptable.
Both Vice Mayor Johnny Miller and Commissioner Pat Gass voiced a preference to have the slide located south of the proposed location. but Commissioner Poynter said that such a move would impede emergency vehicle access to the beach. Poynter continued, saying that locating the slide in the proposed location would take up 55 feet between Putt-Putt and the Main Beach Boardwalk. Because of the unevenness of the land, the city would be required to bring in fill to create a level platform for the slide. Streets Manager Rex Lester said that he believed it would take 5 dump trucks of sand to level the area at a cost of approximately $2,500.
Poynter asked commissioners to consider whether “the tail is wagging the dog” with respect to the water slide at Main Beach. He recalled that in January the FBCC had shown no interest in such a slide, but that because someone had come forth subsequently with a request to operate a slide, the FBCC seemed prepared to reverse its decision. He said, “Maybe we should have a plan for Main Beach first and then issue an RFP” to solicit response from all interested parties. He suggested that the city appears to be reacting to proposals that arise from the public “haphazardly.” He said that currently the beach season is almost half over and that time might better be put toward planning for next year so that the city can “do it right.”
Vice Mayor Miller invited Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee (PRAC) chair Burton Bright to address the commission. Bright reported that the PRAC had never seen the current proposal, although it was in sympathy with a desire for a water slide at Main Beach. He said, “This is not something we as a committee would like to see done right now.”
Some discussion ensued regarding the Main Beach Master Plan and the proposed elements, including an amphitheater.
During public input, local resident Len Kreger spoke to the water slide proposal. He said that it would impact the park and the beach walkover. He urged commissioners to consider how space at Main Beach is being used. He said that increasingly Main Beach is being closed to residents in favor of making the park available for special events. He emphasized that Main Beach is “the crown jewel” in the city’s park system and advocated following a plan as opposed to considering “every idea that comes along.”
The FBCC took no action on the proposed water slide.