Riverfront Leads as City’s Main Grant Target

By Mike Lednovich

Fernandina Beach’s long delayed riverfront flood protection wall, estimated at $16 million to complete, was picked as the city’s top legislative priority Tuesday night by city commissioners.

Other funding priorities included $500,000 for renovation of the lighthouse, funding for the construction of replacing beach walkovers and $1 million for historic downtown beautification.

City Grants Administrator Lorelei Jacobs told commissioners there would be a two-prong approach in obtaining funding for the flood protection wall. She said $12 million would be sought from federal funding and $4 million from state funding.

The state legislative delegation will meet Oct. 25 to hear about specific funding requests.

“The idea is that we go for a federal earmark of $12 million and $4 million from the state and this would be sufficient to do the whole project,” Jacobs said. “If the state effort is successful and the federal effort isn’t, at least we’ll have some funding.”

Last June, Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed Fernandina Beach’s $1 million funding request to build a section of seawall to protect the historic downtown and surrounding neighborhoods from flooding.

The city’s lighthouse, cited as Florida’s oldest, is in need of exterior repairs. Jacobs said the city currently has an application for a $500,000 state grant to fund the work. She also told the commission the Association of Lighthouses has given the city $125,000 in funds for the project.

Replacing beach walkovers that were taken down in 2019 because of safety issues was ranked third.

Interim City Manager Charlie George added a downtown beautification project at $1 million as the fourth priority.
“This is an issue you (commissioners) talk a lot about and we need some direction on how you would spend $1 million,” Jacobs said.

“The state revenues are up high this year, much higher than projections so that gives us more of an opportunity to get two (projects funded),” Jacobs said.

Mayor Bradley Bean said, “I think this commission can agree that our top, number one priority would be the riverwalk seawall project and I know you’re working very hard on that, so without objection I would say that’s our number one priority.”

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Trusted Member
8 months ago

Excellent priorities, but if adjustments must be made, lower the priority of the lighthouse since it serves only sentimental value. The other needs serve real value and purpose for the city and County. Also, can Nassau County contribute? They should in my opinion.

Bob Tankel
Active Member
Bob Tankel(@bob-tankel)
8 months ago

I’m a part-time resident; I used to own in the city, now the county. Why doesn’t the city put city hall up for sale, allow it to be developed and contribute to the tax base, and relocate to a part of town that needs redevelopment, maybe 14th Street?

Faith Ross
Active Member
Faith Ross(@faith-ross)
8 months ago
Reply to  Bob Tankel

Are you talking about taking away the public parking lot that services the restaurants on 2nd and 3rd St., including the Green Turtle?

Faith Ross
Active Member
Faith Ross(@faith-ross)
8 months ago
Reply to  Faith Ross

Nothing ever seems to be easy in Fernandina. City Hall is a historic building, located in the Historic District. If sold it would likely be required to be renovated.

Active Member
[email protected](@memaguireaol-com)
8 months ago

This requires Sen. Bean’s support. And he hasn’t supported DeSantis’s bid for the WH, so …

Alan Hopkins
Noble Member
Alan Hopkins(@dawaves)
8 months ago

I won’t hold my breath on getting money from the state or anyone else. This city has a reputation of planning to spend money they “Hope” to get.

Hope is not a strategy.

In spite of the clear economic and safety benefit for the city and the state residence our ability to get grants seems disappointing in my opinion.

There are a lot of city assets that might be better utilized for the benefit of the taxpaying citizens of Fernandina Beach. But I’m just pointing out the obvious to most who live here.