Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
February 18, 2015 4:52 p.m.
At their Regular Meeting held on February 17, 2015, the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) unanimously approved Resolution 2015-26 supporting a water taxi transportation system to St. Marys, GA from the Fernandina City Marina. In so doing, the city commission supported waiving dock fees for two years in both cities and obtaining marketing support from tourism development organizations in both cities.
A steering group of citizens and elected officials in both communities have joined with representatives of organizations such as the East Coast Greenway Alliance, the Florida Greenways and Trails Foundation and the National Park Service to explore and encourage a publicly accessible water taxi service between Fernandina Beach and St. Marys as a means to providing a safe conduct for coastal trail hikers and bicyclists between Florida and Georgia.
The group has not asked the city for funding, but has requested assistance from the city in establishing the service.
St. Marys City Manager John Holman spoke before the FBCC to relay his city commission’s support for the project.
Commissioner Tim Poynter asked Holman if his city would waive dock fees, as project proponents have requested. Holman said that currently St. Marys does not charge dock fees at all. Vice Mayor Johnny Miller asked if St. Marys would provide a designated docking spot for the water taxi. Holman replied that the city would maintain such a spot during the hours of operation of the water taxi.
Following passage of the resolution, Commissioner Robin Lentz asked project activist Phil Scanlan, “What next?’
Scanlan reported that his group is looking into possibilities for gasoline grants both in Fernandina Beach and St. Marys. He said that if the issues of docking fees and gasoline costs for the two-year start-up can be resolved, the group would work through the city to request proposals from those businesses and/or individuals interested operating the water taxi.
Editor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.