Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
January 23, 2015 6:09 p.m.
Fernandina Beach City Commissioners (FBCC) held a short workshop prior to their January 20, 2015 Regular meeting to discuss two topics: the city’s shoreline and resiliency planning efforts and 2015 goals of the CRA Advisory Board (CRAAB).
Shoreline and Resiliency Planning
City Manager Joe Gerrity deferred to Community Development Director Adrienne Burke in presenting an overview of efforts planned or underway on a new project fulfilling part of the city’s Comprehensive Plan.
Burke explained that the origins of this project came from an exploration of available grants to help the city restore oyster beds. In considering their request, the Saint Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) suggested that the city needed an overall shoreline assessment to document changes and habitat. “It started with oysters and led to resiliency,” Burke reported. Resiliency planning allows the city to absorb shocks and stresses to its social, economic, and technical systems and infrastructures in response to changes, such as sea level rise or disasters.
Burke briefed commissioners on a two-part plan that would address shoreline resiliency and disaster resiliency. With respect to disaster resiliency, she said the city already has plans that reside in different departments, but that the effort would bring all this information together.
https://fernandinaobserver.com/wp-admin/edit.phpThe city is at the beginning of this effort and will start with a shoreline evaluation. She commended the SJRWMD for its assistance. They will send people to the city to train volunteers to do some of the data collection. Burke underscored how many different areas of the city’s Comprehensive Plan will be supported by this effort.
She acknowledged the work of city staff and volunteer Len Kreger. Other agencies will also partner with the city and help identify grant opportunities. The city is currently identifying local stakeholders to help in the effort, such as the mills, non-profits and the Tourist Development Council.
Mayor Ed Boner verified that this effort is an aid to better planning, rather than mandating any particular action right now.
Volunteer and Planning Advisory Board Chair Len Kreger said, “What this really is, is data collection to help us get grants. Whether you believe in sea level rise, the money [for associated grants] is there.” He said that the city is already working on projects involving photovoltaic cells and stormwater, but that without data, it is difficult to obtain the available grants. “By the end of the summer,” he said, “we will have the shoreline plan.” Burke reinforced Kreger’s arguments, citing the tremendous networking efforts that have already occurred involving agencies that have never previously visited the city.
Commissioner Pat Gass asked that commissioners be included in future meeting minutes distribution.
CRAAB Goals for 2015
CRAAB Chair Mike Zaffaroni briefed commissioners on the work of his committee, seeking feedback. He said the committee’s work is limited because there are no funds available. He read from a November 6, 2014 memo sent to the FBCC before the 2014 General Election in which he enumerated seven committee goals and the lead CRAAB member for each:
- Implementing Quiet Zones – Andy Curtin
- Waterfront park development – Marla McDaniel
- Evaluate existing CRA plan and look for opportunities for future amendments – Arlene Filkoff, who replaced former member Deb Stephenson
- Address parking challenges – Rick Daniel
- Encourage development, seek development and create incentives for developers within the CRA – Lou Goldman
- Review Land Development Code language to determine deterrents, if any, to future development within the CRA – Dan McCranie
- Issue clear and concise recommendations to the City Commission and City Manager on specific actions that can be taken to achieve the goals – Mike Zaffaroni
He distributed a second memo dated January 18, 2015, emphasizing the importance of action on the Quiet Zones and the sidewalk project connecting Centre Street to the Salty Pelican Restaurant. He said that the committee hopes to do a better job this year in providing advice to the FBCC. He also expressed the committee’s desire to revisit the idea of touring regional CRAs to get a better understanding of what a successful CRA can bring to the city. The tour planned last year, supported by many business people and the Chamber of Commerce, did not take place when an insufficient number of city commissioners expressed interest.
Commissioner Pat Gass asked if there was anything in the CRA plan to preserve the history of the shrimping industry. Senior city planner Kelly Gibson replied that while the CRA plans are more generally development in nature, the waterfronts plan looks toward preserving a working waterfront, part of which could be the shrimping industry.
Zaffaroni said that people have approached him with a sincere interest in seeing redevelopment happen in the CRA. Mayor Boner thanked Zaffaroni and invited him to return to future meetings.
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.