Think Ahead, Port! And Get Creative!

By Tammi Kosack

Dear commissioners,

As a stakeholder representative I have received scores of emails from concerned citizens, as I know you all have.  I am confident none of us imagined the level of community engagement port operations and future plans would incite. It is clear from the time, energy, passion and commitment displayed by citizens that the operations and contributions (both good and bad) of the port are of high importance. The concern spreads islandwide, and into the county, and I dare say it is not going away.

The main issues have been opposition to: cruise ships, fertilizer, cement, aggregate bulk, increased truck traffic, pollution. The first trial cement shipment was a debacle, especially the way it was handled by an operations team experienced in this commodity.

What if OHPA (and the operator) use this negative experience to their advantage? Remember the Tylenol PR crisis of the ’80s when Johnson & Johnson immediately acknowledged the failures and pivoted to change things for the better?

OHPA, you have the chance to demonstrate you are listening AND hearing your constituents, by removing all reference to pursuing bulk aggregate, cruise and truck increase from the master plan. You can be the heroes. The operator has the chance to win back all lost credibility by acknowledging the unique circumstances of what was always developed as a pocket/niche port by eliminating the desire to grow the port through aggregates and increased truck and cargo. Considering the proximity of neighborhood watchdogs who will notify commissioners, media outlets, FDEP, EPA, ACOE or any other appropriate regulatory agency the moment any infraction is witnessed, this will harm not only the operator’s reputation but the ability to conduct business in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

What business model is left? This port was positioned in its current location to service and support the mills.  Ports on islands that rely on truck transport do not make economic sense. The argument that increased cargo is needed to bring in more jobs is shallow when compared to the economic engines of the mills and tourism, disregards the concerns of residents and tourists, and is counter to future automations. The city and the county lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in real estate taxes, the citizens complain of trucks, diesel particulates, noise, water pollution, safety for children… the human, ecologic, and economic ramifications are enormous.

What if… grant money and capital investments are made to make this port a true standout in logistical efficiency and productivity, AS WELL as becoming a model of environmental sustainability? Imagine a clean and green port, focused on reducing air, water, sound and light pollution, surrounded by a thick forest of native trees and evergreen understory shrubs that help absorb sound and airborne particulates, run by state of the art computers that control electric loaders and on-campus equipment, powered by solar panels installed on the hundreds of square feet of warehouse rooftops and offering shore power for cargo ships to eliminate diesel emissions, and focusing on efficient in- and out-bound service for both mills.

See the following, describing the port of Brunswick’s green initiatives:

And info on ports and solar:

There are many, many examples out there. If new methods and radical changes are not sought, the port has potential to become a cancerous blight that spreads and eats away at the very thing that makes this part of Nassau County desirable.

Chasing profitability and being a good steward are not binary choices. A master plan, re-written only every decade or so should have future thinking objectives backed by examples and ways to achieve the goals, with dates for intermittent benchmarks.

Please consider this massive opportunity that is within all of your hands.

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Tammi Kosack
Tammi Kosack(@tammi-kosack)
6 months ago

What can you do about this?
Get involved in the shaping of our future. Take an hour out of your day to
attend the OHPA meeting Wednesday 6 PM March 8, 2023 when OHPA Commission will be discussing and voting on any master plan changes.
Nassau County Commission Chambers
James S. Page Government Complex
96136 Nassau Place, Yulee FL 32097
Want your voice to be heard?
Email OHPA (port) Commissioners:
·        Danny Fullwood [email protected]
·        Miriam Hill [email protected]
·        Mike Cole [email protected]
·        Ray Nelson [email protected]
·        Justin Taylor [email protected]

Al MacDougall
Al MacDougall (@guest_67527)
6 months ago

Small cruise ships will be a boon for downtown merchants that will only help our image as a welcoming destination.

Joe Blanchard
Joe Blanchard(@jlblan2)
6 months ago

From all the hoopla about our port, why don’t you go back where you came from. The port was here before you came to our island. Reminds me of the people who purchase houses near an airport then complain about noise and air traffic. This island has been a major seaport since the early 1800’s. It is home to one of the deepest natural channels on the US east coast. The cross state railroad was put in to transport cargo from the Atlantic to the Gulf. People need to be realistic and understand that the port is here to stay and that it has to grow to by economically feasible. I think there are a number of people that moved here becaused they liked it but think it would be better if the mills and port went away. To those, I say “go back where you came from and leave us bubbas alone”.

Margaret Kirkland
Margaret Kirkland(@kirkland-mrk)
6 months ago

Great article and great idea! OHPA needs to be looking at long-term planning.

6 months ago

Great article which offer alternative solutions for port growth!

William Davis
William Davis (@guest_67600)
6 months ago

Am sorry but you can’t be helped you are so shocking naive and under studied in the matters which you present. Just shut the place down and convert the property to hotels or something, the view is great. No port operator in the last 15 years has turned a dime in this place and I don’t see anyone turning a dime moving ahead, it’s a fools errand.