Weekly Comments from Dale Martin – “Perspective, please.”

Dale Martin
City Manager
Fernandina Beach
January 8, 2020

City Manager Dale Martin

The beginning of the new year provides a convenient time to re-gain perspective. The trashing of that final page of the calendar and the introduction of a whole fresh unblemished twelve pages provide a sense of hope. The challenges, frustrations, and turmoil of the previous year, even if just for a split second as the January page appears, are set aside: 365 blank days wait to be lived and filled.

As 2021 began, we had the opportunity to re-gain some perspective. During the course of my work, I routinely hear of the concerns of City Commissioners and residents. It is a significant part of my job to hear those concerns and provide, directly or indirectly, resolution to those concerns. The range of concerns is limitless and bountiful; speeding vehicles, uncollected yard waste, Golf Course grass, high taxes, unleashed dogs, electric bikes, Marina slip rates, Airport noise, 8th Street traffic, bumpy roads, lane markings, loud music, parking, flooding, chickens, and trees. Sometimes, that’s before lunch.

And after hearing the concerns, it is sometimes forgetful on my part to maintain the perspective that we live on a beautiful island with wonderful people and great places.

Last weekend, we were able to spend a few days with friends that were visiting Fernandina Beach for the first time. On Saturday morning, we met downtown for breakfast and then drove around the City. Through the eyes of visitors, we saw (as we usually do with guests) things for the “first” time (and this list is nowhere nearly conclusive).

A train.
The riverfront.
The Marina.
Downtown shops and restaurants.
The weekly 7th Street market.
Central Park.
Bosque Bello Cemetery.
Old Town.
Egans Creek and the Greenway.
A lighthouse.
Ft. Clinch beach (trying to describe and envision the former pier).
Fort Clinch.
Main Beach.
Ocean Avenue.
North Beach.
North Fletcher Avenue.
South Fletcher Avenue.
Fernandina Beach Golf Course.
My neighborhood.
The Airport.
Crane Island.

They’re amazed we live here; we take it for granted. While some people may complain about tourists (and some complaints may be well-founded), the re-calibration effect of guests is invigorating and uplifting. We spent the next evening reliving those fresh memories with the guests over dinner.

I take great comfort in my place on this island and in this City. I haven’t watched national or even regional news (or really any television) in almost a year and yet I would likely be correct in telling you that the multi-year trend of Washington D.C. and Tallahassee hatred and hypocrisy, irrespective of party affiliation, has not changed. Sadly, I don’t see that part of 2021 being much different than 2020 (or even more gloomily, for the foreseeable future).

We have differences among us in the City and those are fine and even healthy. While I am confident we’ll defeat the Covid virus, I’m not nearly confident that we can defeat the partisanship virus. Who is working on that vaccine? Will we see each other as “neighbors” or “one of THEM”? What will cure that?

Perspective, please. We live on a beautiful island with wonderful people and great places. Remember that throughout 2021.

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