Westrec updates FBCC on marina financial picture

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
April 19, 2019

Jim Frye, Wesrec VP for Business Development

On April 16, 2019, Jim Frye, VP for Business Development at Westrec Marinas, provided Fernandina Beach City Commissioners with an overview of past, current and projected revenue at the city’s marina operations.  Westrec manages the Fernandina Harbor Marina under a contract with the city.

Frye began his talk with a national overview of the impact of recreational boating on the economy.  He also talked about the impact within Florida’s 4th Congressional District, which includes Fernandina Beach.

He said that one of the unique features of Fernandina Beach’s marina is its impact on the entire city.  Using an economic indicator model developed by the University of Florida, Frye said that the total projection of 2020 impact (direct and indirect) of the marina reflects:  20 jobs, $1.6M GDP, and a million dollars in wages.  He also presented a slide showing the amount of tax revenue the marina generates.

4th Congressional District statistics

“It’s important for you to understand the value of the marina, not just to the people who use it, but to the entire city,” Frye said.

In addition to operating the city marina, Westrec aggressively markets its services and location.  This activity has been severely hampered the past two years because of Hurricane Matthew-related damages that have in effect closed the marina to most traffic.

In turning to the marina financials, Frye addressed the current debt that the marina carries.  He expressed his belief that should the ongoing repairs and rebuilding continue on schedule, the marina could become debt-free in ten years of full operation.


He expressed optimism that the marina will be even more vibrant once repairs have been completed. Continue reading

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It’s time for a new EAR Report.

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
April 19, 2019

While not as exciting as the Mueller Report, the EAR Report has direct and long-term impact on the future of land use and planning in the City of Fernandina Beach.  Next week will see the start of a cycle of input and analysis driven by the need to update the city’s Comprehensive Plan based upon a variety of factors, including population growth, changes in law, vacant and developable land, demographics, internal and external major issues. And this will all be done with assistance from the public.

In partnership with the Northeast Florida Regional Council, the City of Fernandina Beach Planning and Conservation Department will host four workshops as part of its Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR).  Required every seven years by Section 163.3191, Florida Statutes, the EAR is intended to evaluate how successful a community has been in addressing major community land use planning issues through implementation of its Comprehensive Plan. The purpose of these workshops will be to solicit community input on City-identified issues and any other issues the community would like to see included in the EAR. Public input provided will form the basis for how the Plan should be revised to better address community objectives, changing conditions and trends affecting the community, and changes in State requirements.

Dates and locations for the meetings are listed below with all meeting times from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm each evening. 

  • Tuesday, April 23, 2019, at City Hall (204 Ash Street)
  • Thursday, April 25, 2019, at Peck Center (516 S. 10th Street)
  • Monday, April 29, 2019, at Fernandina Beach Golf Course Clubhouse (2800 Bill Melton Road)
  • Tuesday, April 30, 2019, at Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport Conference Room (700 Airport Road)

What is EAR?

EAR stands for Evaluation And Review, and relates to the city’s Comprehensive Plan, a mandated plan for growth management.  Under Florida law, the city must review and update its Comprehensive Plan every seven years.  City Planning Manager Kelly Gibson provided a little history during a recent briefing.  She said . the City adopted its last EAR in December 2009. Florida’s growth management laws were significantly modified in 2011. As part of that, a new review cycle was issued by the State. The City’s review cycle became due in 2012. Having just completed EAR based amendments, a letter to the state was sent stating that the City had full compliance with statutory changes. 

Continue reading

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Tobi needs a home

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
April 19, 2019 – 11:30 a.m.

Are Fernandina Beach City Commission meetings going to the dogs?

Humane Society volunteer Crystal Foster presents Tobi to City Hall audience.

If you tuned in early to their April 16, 2019 meeting, you might have gotten a preview of what is intended to become a monthly meeting feature.

Representatives of the Nassau Humane Society presented Tobi, a mixed breed, spayed female dog aged a bit over a year but fully grown at 24 pounds.  Tobi is one of 55 dogs pictured on the Nassau Humane Society’s website as ready and eager for adoption.

Dr. Christine Sutherin, Operations Manager of the Nassau Humane society, volunteer Crystal Foster, and Animal Control Officer Mandy Holden escorted Tobi to the podium.  Sutherin said that while Tobi has a home at the Animal Shelter, she is looking for a new one.

Tobi wore a neckerchief imprinted with two sentences:  “Pick me! Pick me!”

Crystal Foster explained the basics of a Humane Society program that allows potential dog owners to “borrow” a dog for a day with a donation of food or supplies (or $$) to the shelter.  This program benefits the dog and its temporary master:  the dog gets out of the shelter and socialized; the human might just decide to adopt the dog — or someone else in seeing the dog might decide to do so.  She said that after a day out with Tobi, she discovered that Tobi is great with children.  She suggested — to the laughter of audience members — that this could be a good activity for a girls’ day out or a date night.

Sutherin added that the Humane Society would be holding its first annual Easter Egg Hunt for dogs on at 5:30 p.m., Saturday, April 20th.  Everyone is invited to bring their dog.

And even folks who do not have a dog — but may be seeking just the right 4-legged furry companion — might check to see if Tobi is still available for adoption.

And doggone it, cats are available, too!

For more information on pet adoption and the work of the Nassau Humane Society, visit their website.

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FDOT Road and Lane Closures – April 20 – 26

I-95 (FIN 431958-1-52-01)
Daytime lane closures from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Tuesday southbound near the Nassau County line and Georgia State line for Gateway sign and guardrail construction.

I-95 from Florida State Line to Georgia exit 22 (Horsestamp Church Road)
Daytime lane closures for GDOT resurfacing project.

State Road A1A over the Amelia River
Daytime lane closures Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for routine bridge maintenance.

State Road 200 from Picket Road to Stratton Road (437612-1)
Daytime lane closures Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. for signal work.

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Weekly comments from Dale

Dale Martin
City Manager
Fernandina Beach
April 19, 2019 12:00 p.m.

City Manager Dale Martin

Two key surveys are on the horizon for City residents. The first survey is another edition of the National Citizen Survey and the second survey is the 2020 Census. While the NCS will likely be distributed over the course of the next few weeks, the Census is sill approximately one year away.

The National Citizen Survey (NCS), considered one of the premier community assessments, is conducted by the National Research Center in partnership with several other organizations, including the International City/County Managers Association and the American Association of Public Opinion Research. The survey has been conducted in thousands of communities, and provides “a comprehensive and accurate picture of livability and resident perspectives about local government services, policies and management.” Since the survey is standardized, the local survey results can be compared to the results generated in other communities in the same state, region, or nationwide.

The City first conducted the survey in 2017. The results of that survey are available for review on the City’s web site: http://www.fbfl.us/DocumentCenter/View/17244/The-NCS-Community-Livability-Report-Fernandina-Beach-2017?bidId=.

As with the conduct of that first survey, City residents will be randomly selected by the National Research Center (NRC) through mailing addresses. City staff has clarified the city boundaries with NRC staff to ensure that only city addresses are eligible to receive the survey. It is a continuing challenge to remind some Island residents that a Fernandina Continue reading

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Board of County Commissioner discuss Project Citrine, property condemnation, and more

By Cindy Jackson
April 18, 2019 3:48 p.m.

For the first time ever, at the April 17th, 2019, meeting of the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners, a resolution was unanimously passed in support of an economic development opportunity. Known only as Project Citrine, it is described in the resolution as a potential “200 acre corporate headquarters with a research and development facility.” The resolution, as read by Commissioner Justin Taylor notes if Nassau County is selected as a finalist by the site selection team, “the BOCC may set a meeting to discuss grant incentives for the project pursuant to local ordinances.”

Gregory Jones of Fire Rescue: was recognized for 25 years of service, Darren Marsh with Road and Bridge for 20 years and Robyn Mobley, now with Human Resources, for 22 years.

Recognizing BOCC employees for their years of service is a practice initiated by County Manager Michael Mullin a few months ago. This month Gregory Jones of Fire Rescue: was recognized for 25 years of service, Darren Marsh with Road and Bridge for 20 years and Robyn Mobley, now with Human Resources, for 22 years.

Giving an update on departmental activities this month was Rebecca Jordi, with the Nassau County Cooperative Extension. Ms. Jordi recognized the “extension” has been in Florida for over 100 years. Accompanied by staff, activity highlights were accompanied by statistics which detailed cost savings to Nassau County residents. For example, a homeowner site visit for plant and pest identification is typically valued at $150 per visit. The Extension performed two such visits for a cost savings to residents of $300. Nassau County Extension staff conduct programs in 4-H Youth Development, Agriculture & Natural Resources, Lawns Gardens & Landscapes, and Families & Consumers. For more information on the Extension Service, check out their website at http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/nassau/

A 55.5 acre parcel on the south end of Amelia Island, (Parcel ID 39-1N-29-0000-0001-0000) was also an agenda item. The property is currently zoned as Residential General Two (RG-2) which allows for Continue reading

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Bat roosting season begins

Nassau County Insider
April 18, 2019 3:00 p.m.


If you think bats may be living in your building, now is the time to check your attic, eaves or chimney spaces and take action to exclude them. Bat maternity season begins April 15 and runs through Aug. 15, and during this time it’s illegal to block bats from their roost.

“This is a critical time of year for bats, when they give birth and raise their young,” said Terry Doonan, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) biologist and mammal conservation coordinator. “If bats are excluded from a building before their young can fly, they can become trapped inside and die.”

Florida is home to 13 resident bat species, including listed species such as the Florida bonneted bat. Some bat species roost in artificial structures, including buildings and houses. Although it is illegal to harm or kill bats in Florida, rules have been developed Continue reading

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City to provide closed captioning live for FBCC meetings, delayed for Advisory Board meetings

Closed captioning example

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
April 18, 2019 2:36 p.m.

With little discussion, the Fernandina Beach City Commissioners (FBCC) voted unanimously at their April 16, 2019 Regular Meeting to approve Resolution 2019-63, which accepted a proposal from Swagit Productions, LLC in the amount of $83,120 for closed captioning (CC) services for the remainder of the current fiscal year.  The annual cost for this service is estimated at $120,000.

City Clerk Caroline Best expects the service to begin within 60 days.

Swagit Productions, LLC is the City’s video streaming and broadcast Continue reading

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Fernandina Beach’s 56th Annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival on Amelia Island

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
April 17, 2019 1:03 p.m.

Amelia Island is once again pulling out all the stops for the annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, an island tradition for more than 50 years. Held in in historic downtown Fernandina Beach, the event is one of the premier festivals in the southeast, combining a love of shrimp with the best of arts and entertainment. The popular family-friendly event includes a Pirate Parade, Miss Shrimp Festival Pageant, Kids Fun Zone, Shrimp Run sponsored by The YMCA, fine arts and crafts and antiques vendors, fireworks, and live entertainment. Local shrimp and seafood dishes, ranging from shrimp tacos to shrimp pie, are always the star of the show.

Fernandina Beach Mayor John Miller opened the April 16, 2019 Regular Meeting of the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) by reading a Proclamation declaring May 3, 2019, through May 5, 2019, as the: “56th ANNUAL ISLE OF EIGHT FLAGS SHRIMP FESTIVAL.”

Shrimp Festival Committee volunteers look on as Mayor Miller reads Proclamation.

Miller noted that the first Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival took place in 1964 as the Shrimp Boat Races for the promotion of tourism and to recognize the City of Fernandina Beach as the Birthplace of the Modern Shrimping Industry. Today, Shrimp Festival is Fernandina Beach’s longest-standing and largest special event. The festival still embraces shrimp boats and great food, but these days locals and visitors alike enjoy many other festivities which include a parade, a pirate invasion, music, entertainment, fine art, crafts, antiques and much more.

Over the last fifty-six years, the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival has grown into a nationally recognized festival that provides a financial impact in excess of $16,000,000 to the City of Fernandina Beach, Nassau County and surrounding areas.

Festival Committee Chair Harry Harrison

Miller presented the Proclamation on behalf of the FBCC to members of the Shrimp Fest Committee. This all-volunteer Shrimp Festival Committee partners with the City of Fernandina Beach, area businesses and approximately fifty local non-profit organizations to encourage community volunteerism while instilling a sense of pride through working together for the benefit of the Shrimp Festival.

Committee Chair Harry Harrison accepted the Proclamation on behalf of the volunteers and presented the Mayor with a poster advertising this years festival.  He thanked the city for its support and participation and invited all citizens to participate in this year’s festival the first weekend in May.

The Pirate Parade is Thursday, May 2. The festival is May 3-5.  For the full line-up of events and event schedule, visit www.shrimpfestival.com.

Suanne Thamm 4Editor’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.

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