Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
With its October 1, 2013 Regular Meeting, the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) welcomed in a new fiscal year with relatively little discussion and fanfare by approving unanimously one consent agenda item, 8 resolutions, 6 ordinances on first reading and 2 ordinances on second reading.
While there were quasi-judicial hearings relating to proposed zoning changes involving 629 S. 8th Street, 416 Fir Street and 2851 Bailey Road (voluntary annexation), no one came forward to speak on any of these items. The city moved beach renourishment money not spent last year forward to next year and continued its lobbying services contract with Jacobs Scholz and Associates for another year.
Commissioners also approved a labor agreement between the City of Fernandina Beach and the Coastal Florida Police Benevolent Association (CFPBA). City Manager Joe Gerrity commended the bargaining teams that produced a contract that he characterized as fair to both the bargaining unit and the city.
During Public Input, local resident Lynn Williams reported that the Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND) had agreed to pay its share of $180K improvements to the city marina’s main dock electrical system. Williams serves as a FIND Commissioner.
Williams also reported that on September 30, 2013, he along with local shrimper David Cook and Westrec Marina Manager Joe Springer met with Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) officials in Tallahassee regarding the possibility of using water infusion dredging in the city marina in lieu of conventional dredging. Williams claimed that it was through the good offices of FIND that the meeting had been arranged. He said that the process is being used in Mississippi, and that FDEP knows that it works. The FDEP appears to have agreed to add this process to the city’s existing dredging permit but will need to see more information on the process. Such dredging would only be allowed to take place under certain circumstances to take advantage of tidal flows to remove the disturbed silt. Williams claimed that dredging under such conditions would cost 30-35 cents per cubic yard, whereas traditional dredging techniques cost $30-35 per cubic yard.
Also during Public Input, Susie Thompson, a Jacksonville resident who owns property in Fernandina, rose to express her concerns to the FBCC about the city’s demolition of a house on property that she owns at 305 N. 10th Street. Thompson claimed that she was not served a notice and did not know about the action until a friend telephoned her. She indicated previous problems with unlawful trespass by a vagrant who did damage to the property. She identified herself as “a true servant of the Lord’ and said that “malice and greed” had led to the demolition order. No one responded to her concerns.
During reports at the end of the meeting, City Manager Gerrity asked for direction on the city owned parcel at the corner of S. Fletcher Avenue and Bill Melton Road. Consensus was to obtain an appraisal and then bring the item back for commission discussion regarding sale of the land. Gerrity also informed commissioners that as a result of the city’s unscientific poll, residents seemed to favor retaining twice weekly garbage pick up over a reduction to once weekly. In light of the relatively small savings to be obtained by cutting back service, it was the consensus of the commission to leave pick-ups as they are for the present. Gerrity also reported that conditions at the city’s golf course had greatly improved over the past 4 months.
Gerrity reported to the FBCC that in light of their instruction to improve maintenance of city facilities, the city this summer changed out many air conditioning units at the golf club, library, airport and City Hall. He noted that the carpet replacement had first been budgeted in FY2011-12, but deferred at that time for budgetary reasons. He said that City Hall has implemented a program known as “Facility Dude Maintenance” to let staff file online maintenance requests. He went on to highlight and thank the citizen volunteers who have been stepping up to help out during times of budget cuts and staffing shortages.
Commissioner Ed Boner noted the progress on the Main Beach Boardwalk replacement. He also reported that he continues to research the issue of sales of synthetic drugs in local convenience stores where children have easy access to them. He has drafted an ordinance modeled after one in Pasco County and will work with the City Attorney to bring it forward for first reading this fall.
The meeting adjourned shortly before 7:30 p.m. About a dozen people attended, including both qualified candidates for the November FBCC election: David Bert Austin and Lynn A. Williams.
October 2, 2013 8:56