By Mike Lednovich
June 11, 2018 10:30 a.m.
Mayor Johnny Miller wants to form a Marina Advisory Board. That’s probably a good idea.
But before having citizen volunteers take a seat at the first MAB meeting, there’s important foundational work the City Commission should do to support the group’s success.
First, the City Commission needs to define why the Marina Advisory Board exists. What is its mission; what is its purpose?
The City has more than a dozen boards and committees manned by well-intentioned, civic-minded volunteers. Some, like the Code Enforcement and Appeals Board, have a well-defined purpose. Others have no stated purpose and, like a rudderless ship, no direction. They have meetings, but nothing of substance is accomplished.
To avoid the latter, City Commissioners should answer these questions before seating a Marina Advisory Board.
• What does the City Commission need from the Marina Advisory Board? What is missing now, and how will a Marina Advisory Board fill a need?
• What unique contributions can the Marina Advisory Board make?
Once City Commissioners can answer those overarching questions, they can move to the second question. What are the most important goals/objectives in the next quarter, six months, first year of the Marina Advisory Board? What are the specific, deliverable goals that can be measured, and in what order do they need to be accomplished?
In high-performing organizations, including city government, what gets measured gets done. With clearly defined, time-bound objectives, the Marina Advisory Board can hit the ground running.
Third question: How will City Commissioners hold the Marina Advisory Board accountable for achieving the goals? Without accountability, there will be no urgency to get things done.
The City Commission needs to establish guidelines for the Marina Advisory Board. These guidelines specify the boundaries and establish the parameters of how the Marina Advisory Board operates. Such guidelines include governmental laws and regulations; standard procedures; organizational policies; and the ‘dos’ and ‘don’t dos’ for the group.
The Marina Advisory Board needs to know its role. Is this a fact-finding group that makes recommendations to the City Commission? Or, does this board make and determine policy regarding the marina? Or, it is a combination of the two? What resources will the City Commission provide for the Marina Advisory Board to succeed in accomplishing its goals and objectives? What are the budget parameters? What city resources will be made available? Will city staff be available?
From 2005-2011, a Waterfronts Florida Partnership Committee served the City. It created a Waterfronts Vision Plan in 2006; a Final Grant Report in 2007; CRA Design Guidelines in 2008 and a Waterfront Park Master Plan in 2009.
All that work was for naught and nothing came of its recommendations. I’ve talked with two former members of the Waterfronts Florida Partnership on why it failed. They said the City Commission seated during its tenure could not agree on what should be done with the Marina and waterfront. After years of the City Commission not listening to their recommendations, those committee members threw up their hands in frustration and the group dissolved.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” From The Life of Reason by George Santayana.
City Commissioners should sing from the same page of the hymn book in order to give the Marina Advisory Board a blueprint for success.
Without creating such a blueprint for success, City Commissioners will doom the new Marina Advisory Board to the same fate of its predecessors.
Editor’s Note: Mike Lednovich is a candidate for the Fernandina Beach City Commission. He will challenge incumbent Commissioner Roy Smith in November’s Group 4 election. Lednovich is a former journalist, national media executive, and has served as a CEO of a construction company. He is now a business consultant.