Tiny Election Turnout and Last Three Year Term

Chip Ross
Orlando Avila

Three year terms resulted in exceptionally low voter turnout every other year.  2017 is the last off-year election and last 3 year term for Fernandina.

Congratulations to Johnny Miller, straw Poll winner for Mayor, and Phil Chapman, our new commissioner.   The upcoming runoff race will be interesting.   A relative newcomer to the area, Ronald “Chip” Ross, is facing someone with more extensive local ties, Orlando Avila.  It will be interesting to see the contrast and turnout for the last runoff election with a 3 year term.


Commissioner Tim Poynter deserves particular praise for running a clean campaign and making the effort to give back during a second term.   Few understand the thankless nature of political positions like this and the “right thing” is often not the popular thing.    Thank you Commissioner Poynter.   You have a lot to be proud of and Fernandina is better than it was three years ago.    Thank you.

Medardo Monzon is another relative newcomer and learned to appreciate the diversity on the island.   Both deserve praise for throwing the hat in the ring.   Very few are willing to commit to the effort it takes to hold office and it is an effort.  Thank you as well and we hope you will continue to be involved.

Poynter and Monzon on Election Day 2017

Alachua Street Opening Approved and Long-Awaited CRA Domino…falls into place…

Something you notice immediately, when looking at an aerial view of Fernandina’s waterfront, is the success of the area south of Centre and the under-development of the area to the north.   Why?  Well, the most obvious reason is access.  Northward, the access to the water and traffic circulation are forced past an industrial and working waterfront area.  While this, in itself, might seem like a good thing, the photo below shows years of neglect and underutilized property..  Consider the tax revenue from buildings constructed to take advantage of the view.  There have been multiple projects planned, including a hotel planned for the right side of this picture, in my opinion, sidelined for various reasons.   Cost is always a consideration, but having access and good traffic flow through Alachua is likely the final piece of the puzzle to move the CRA forward and create tax increases allowing for waterfront improvements.   Moving the marina north to reach deeper water, eliminating the silting issue, opening Alachua and improving the infrastructure are all pieces of the puzzle for investors and developers, interested in our waterfront.

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Fernandina Beach City Manager Dale Martin has released the following letter from FDOT dated October 9, 2017:

Dear Mr. Martin,

I am writing on behalf of the Florida Department of Transportation (Department) regarding the opening of the highway-railroad at-grade crossing at Alachua Street in Fernandina Beach. It is the understanding of the Department that the City of Fernandina Beach, First Coast Railroad and the Department have agreed in principle to open the rail crossing at Alachua Street in Fernandina Beach upon the satisfaction of certain conditions. These conditions include, but are not limited to, the acceptance of drawings for the planned crossing by the Department, the City of Fernandina Beach and First Coast Railroad. Upon acceptance of the drawings by all the parties, the Parties shall enter into a formal stipulation to opening the crossing at Alachua Street in Fernandina Beach. The opening of the crossing at Alachua Street will remain subject to the satisfaction of any other applicable regulatory conditions.

Sincerely,

Laura Regalado

Florida Department of Transportation

Source: Fernandina Observer https://fernandinaobserver.com/2017/10/11/fdot-approves-opening-of-alachua-rail-crossing/ 10/13/17

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I see the changes as essential to the CRA and, combining this change with the release of funds for the marina, expansion of the marina and change to density downtown, we will see tax revenues from previously vacant or very underdeveloped structures.  When you change a vacant property like the Goodsell/Front Street Property, LLC, also known as the Standard Marine property, at the corner of Alachua and 2nd, into a highest and best use development piece, tax revenues skyrocket.  This one parcel could go from a taxable value of about $1.6 million to something 10 times higher.  2016 taxes on this piece, vacant and nearly unused for years, was $32,298.83.  We could easily see $200,000 in additional annual tax revenue, before considering the hotel site on the other corner.   Think about the residential use and vitality added to downtown businesses.    Considering funding for front street improvements, we’re at the verge of seeing a very, very successful CRA!

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1980’s Fernandina Waterfront

Years ago, this is what the waterfront looked like at the foot of Center Street.  Things always change.   Looking for a way to insure a waterfront continues to benefit the rest of the city is important.  Using this resource as an economic driver and to improve other businesses is far more desirable than vacant land with a million dollar view.

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Master plans are potential visions…often an incentive to investment.

Commission Race for the “Last 3 Year Term” Nears for Fernandina Beach

The commission races are nearing and this is the last 3 year election for Fernandina Beach.  What does this mean for Fernandina and for Amelia Island?Local elections have more to do with our future, at times, than national or statewide elections.   Consider access to the beach, parking or improvements bringing jobs to Fernandina.

The information below as taken from the Nassau County Supervisor of Elections website on 10/4/17 or from one candidate without a current statement on the site, a statement was provided by his campaign.

Current information, including financial disclosures and any changes to wordage below on www.votenassau.com is directly linked here….”Announced Candidate Information

November 7, 2017
Election Day
Voting Locations open from 7am to 7pm

Positive comments expressing your support and reason for supporting a candidate are welcome. 


Group 2 City Commission Race

Philip A. Chapman, III

City of Fernandina Beach Commissioner, Group 2

Contact Information:

2120 Florida Avenue

Fernandina Beach, FL – 32034

mm.chap@hotmail.com

904-624-5978

Candidate’s Statement
My wife and I came to Fernandina Beach for a get away weekend and it was love at first encounter. The combination of the charm of the city and the quality of the people made it easy to know that this is where we would call home when I retired from 38 years in public education.
As a homeowner for over 6 years and a full time resident for over 3 of those years, I have seen many changes to the character and fabric of this city. Shortly after settling in, I began to attend the City Commission meetings. I have spoken repeatedly at most every meeting about the waterfront, the density, the maritime canopy, and numerous other subjects and try to get the Commission to allow the people to express their full opinions (not in just 3 minutes) on subjects that are near and dear to them also. Citizen input and a Commission that listens to that input are the biggest components to the concept of community.
Change is ongoing. A look at the development both on and off the island clearly shows this and such will impact what our city will be in both the near and distant future. As your Commissioner, I will listen to all of you and your input and make decisions that will manage development, in all aspects of growth, which will keep the character of our city and the reason we are all live here. Change is inevitable, management of that change wisely, is critical! Thank you.

Note: The candidate’s photograph and statement are supplied by the candidate and are not endorsed by the County Supervisor of Elections or checked for accuracy.

 

Candidate: Timothy M. Poynter

Office: City of Fernandina Beach Commissioner, Group 2

Contact Information:

3967 First Avenue

Fernandina Beach, FL – 32034

tpoynter@gmail.com

904-415-6533

Eighteen years ago, my family and I moved to Fernandina.  Our children were younger and the move was work related.  The job didn’t last.  After readjusting, we opened a small restaurant in 2001 at Thanksgiving.   Over time we grew to open another business and eventually employ over 50 people.    I’m aware of just how difficult it can be to run and operate a small business and aware of the obstacles we face.

During this time, I’ve been privileged to give back with two terms on the Fernandina Beach City Commission, serving as commissioner and Vice Mayor.    I’d like to think we accomplished a lot, including advocating for local businesses and quality of life.   Thinking about some of the changes, our town now enjoys an expanded library, animal shelter, refurbished train depot and two playgrounds as a result of creative public private partnerships.   These are the kinds of projects we need to see more in the coming three years.   Leveraging efforts with private partnerships gives us a more efficient use of your tax money and a better quality of life.

Our community is dependent on tourism, but the mills and port give us diversity to withstand downturns.   I plan to remain an advocate for jobs and support local industry whenever possible.  Gas lines serving the mills had the side effect of reducing the cost to operate restaurants.  Think about the tax base and positive impact we see from local “high paying” jobs!

My background includes a BA in Business Marketing from the University of Cincinnati in 1980 and a diverse history working in a number of positions.  Part of my background includes time as a painter, work in the health care industry, successful restaurant startups, local politics and time invested giving back to our community.

Priorities

  • Better utilization of the waterfront.
  • Improve marina when repaired to eliminate silting (save dredging cost), including shifting north.
  • Seek more Public Private Partnerships
  • Protect local industry.
  • Reduce cost and regulation required to open a business or live in Fernandina, while improving quality of life.
  • Look for opportunities to work with the Port Authority toward common goals.

It is important to give back.  Fernandina means a lot to me and I have a history here, but we also have a future here.  Even if I didn’t have family in town, we have a vested interest in the future of the town.   Whether our concern is our current family, the restaurant or our sons living here, I am passionate about the future of our community.   On October 10th or November 7th, I need your vote.    If you want more efficient use of your tax money, more public private partnerships, a working marina and revitalized waterfront and to protect local jobs, please vote.  Turnouts are low and I need your help.

If you want to volunteer or just “LIKE” my Facebook page, you can reach me at the link, by email or phone number below.  Again, I appreciate your support and your vote.

Thank you,

Tim Poynter

tpoynter@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/timpoyntercitycommision

(904)415-6533

***You are always invited to gatherings at 6:00 p.m. on the Thursday following the first City Commission meeting each month at 27 North 3rd Street.  ***

Note: The candidate’s photo and statement were provided by the candidate.   


 Group 3 City Commission Race 

Candidate: Orlando J. Avila

Office: City of Fernandina Beach Commissioner, Group 3

Contact Information:

Address Protected

Fernandina Beach, FL – 32034

orlando@orlandoavila.com

904-955-3122

Candidate’s Statementavila
I sincerely hope you will take the time to look over my bio and ask any questions about my candidacy or positions.

orlando@orlandoavila.com

I believe in being a citizen servant, I think that the role of government is to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of the citizenry.
Prudent management of the people’s treasure and providing maximum benefit to them by ensuring service levels are maintained.

Orlando J. Avila

Biographical Info
Family
Janel Avila, Wife
Married 17 years (July 1)
4 children, all adopted through foster care
Janel is a teacher at FBHS and a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Florida
Education
University of Central Florida
Orlando, Florida
Bachelor of Arts Public Administration, August 1999

Columbia Southern University
Orange Beach, AL (Distance Learner)
Masters, Business Administration in International Management, October 2011

Work Experience

All American Ship Agents, LLC
Fernandina Beach, FL
Owner/President October 2012 – Present

Seaboard Marine, Ltd.
Fernandina Beach, FL
Vessel Boarding Agent, November 2007-Ocotber 2012

Florida Department of Corrections
Fernandina Beach, Florida
Correctional Probation Officer, March 2003-November 2007
Certified position supervising caseload of felony offenders placed on probation by the Court
Florida Department of Children & Families
Fernandina Beach, Florida
Family Services Counselor-Protective Supervision, December 2000 – March 2003
Case manager specializing in child protection and family services

Volunteer/Community Service

Amelia Lodge No. 47
Served as Master, in 2008

Morocco Shriners 2002-Present
Fernandina Beach Shrine Club, Past patient Coordinator for Club Sponsored Patients at Shriners Hospitals for Children

Leadership Nassau, Class 8
Past steering committee member and Chairman (2011-12)

Nassau County Foster/Adoptive Parent Association
Past President 2011-2013

Florida State Foster/Adoptive Parent Association
Vice-President, 2016-Present
Director of Programs 2014-2016

Nassau County Condition Use and Variance Board
Appointed 2010

Fernandina Maritime Exchange
President 2013-2015
Note: The candidate’s photograph and statement are supplied by the candidate and are not endorsed by the County Supervisor of Elections or checked for accuracy.

 

Candidate: Medardo Monzon

Office: City of Fernandina Beach Commissioner, Group 3

Contact Information:

2826 South Fletcher Ave

Fernandina Beach, FL – 32034

mmonzon@comcast.net

904-608-4872

Candidate’s Statementmonzon
Since moving to Fernandina Beach in 2012, I have demonstrated my commitment to the wellbeing of our community. It would be my honor to serve you as a City Commissioner.

Below is my biographical information and qualifications.

I was born in Colombia and first came to the United States as an adolescent in 1963, when my father attended the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. We retuned to Colombia a year later and I lost my father in a tragic accident in 1966. I learned integrity, discipline, responsibility, compassion and empathy from my parents

My wife and I married in 1980. We have four children, five grandchildren and two dogs. Our family moved permanently to the U.S. in 1981. My wife and I lived in 8 different communities prior to moving to Jacksonville in 2003. Soon thereafter, we discovered Amelia Island and moved permanently to Fernandina Beach in 2012.

By obtaining academic scholarships and by tutoring science, I put myself through college, earning a M.S. in Chemistry. My professional career spans 43 years: 17 years as an entrepreneur and 26 years as a scientist and business executive in the chemicals, plastics and paper industries, typically in international environments. I have owned an organizational and leadership consulting firm for the past 7 years.

I have served on the board of directors of non-profit organizations, most notably, the Fox River Valley Community Foundation, the First Coast Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Visit Jacksonville.

I have led organizations and managed budgets and assets several times larger than the City of Fernandina, developing skills and to solve complex problems by implementing innovative solutions.

My professional experience makes me uniquely qualified to understand and work effectively with all the segments of our community.

Since moving to Fernandina Beach, I have demonstrated my commitment to the wellbeing of our community. By working collaboratively with West Rock’s management and City Commissioners, we prevented deliveries of coal by ship to the island, preventing an environmental and economic disaster in our historic downtown district.

I also made and presented “An Independent Assessment of Lignotech” to the City Commission, documenting the significant environmental and economic benefits of this project to our community. Emissions of green house and toxic gases will be reduced markedly, while creating more than 50 high paying jobs.

Note: The candidate’s photograph and statement are supplied by the candidate and are not endorsed by the County Supervisor of Elections or checked for accuracy.

 

Candidate: Ronald ‘Chip’ Ross

Office: City of Fernandina Beach Commissioner, Group 3

Contact Information:

210 N 3rd Street

Fernandina Beach, FL – 32034

chip14758@hotmail.com

Candidate’s Statementross
I previously lived in a small county on the Chesapeake Bay known for its “Tranquil Living at Tidewater”. In less than 15 years the population soared from 25,000 to over 70,000. The developers and real estate interests prospered. Life for the rest of the community became anything but tranquil. My wife and I chose to live here because of what it is, not what the current City Commission appears to want it to become.
I believe our beaches, historic district, residential districts, and local businesses need to be preserved, protected and nurtured. I am running for City Commissioner to preserve the great little town in which we all chose to live. We can’t stop development, nor should we, but we can manage growth in a thoughtful and inclusive manner.
I believe that before a City Commission takes any action, the Commissioners must determine how the action will improve the quality of the life of its citizens and its business environment, and also determine how the action will impact – either positively or negatively – the character and environment of the City. How much will the action actually cost, and who will ultimately foot the bill as a result?
Presently I live in the Fernandina Beach Historic District, and I continue to practice Emergency Medicine on the Island. The remainder of my time is consumed by advocating for quality of life issues, playing petanque, cooking, and most importantly, spending time with my wife, Faith.
More information can be found at www.votechipross.com .

Note: The candidate’s photograph and statement are supplied by the candidate and are not endorsed by the County Supervisor of Elections or checked for accuracy.

 

 

Hurricane Irma Issue….Looking High Tides…Pictures at 2:30PM 9/10/17 ???

The following pictures were taken about 2:30PM, 2 1/2 hours after high tide, in Fernandina.  If you notice, along the waterfront and Egan’s Creek, the tides are beyond ordinary high tide levels…I’m guessing by about 1 to 2 feet.   Our next high tide is at 12:33PM.      Wind is piling sand up at Main Beach, but we didn’t notice any significant damage yet.

In the high tide and low tide chart, we can see that the first high tide was at 12:08 am and the next high tide at 12:33 pm.

Source: Tide times and charts for Fernandina Beach, Florida (East Coast) and weather forecast for fishing in Fernandina Beach in 2017

https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/quicklook/view.html?name=IRMA#8720030wl 9/11/2017

Hurricane Irma Update and Useful Information

46375a9a-a650-4b3e-bf81-1095b3b0a586-4289-000004319ab2b71f-1
9/6/2017 at 6PM Source: Navy Model

Hurricane Irma will have some impact on Florida, but the path can change. Be prepared, but keep in mind how storm paths can shift.  The twitter feed for Nassau Emergency Management is updated when you load this page.

Resources: 

Nassau County Emergency Information


95 Residents, Business Owners and Property Owners Randomly Polled on Parking Solutions

As of today, a poll on a local’s only Facebook group called Amelia Island Local Network, showed support for either leaving parking alone or some support for an adjustment of parking times and enforcement of the current rules.

It will be interesting to see how closely the answers from this group compares to  a larger survey by the City of Fernandina, mailed to 1500 random local residents.   The sample groups are different, but this group does show low levels of support for paid parking in 2017.

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Source: www.facebook.com/groups/ameliaisland 9/3/2017

 

Notice Anything Interesting in the Parking Approach? Part 2

Parking should always be about insuring access to something, whether an amenity or business.  I oppose parking control for revenue generation.  A program, when the time comes, should pay for itself, but not become a tax on business.  The post linked below was originally from 2011.  With a city commission presentation and discussion tonight (8/29/2017), I remembered the approach by one town and a view I felt deserved consideration.  It is all about the access and providing what business or the public needs to ensure access.  Anything else is just an added tax.

……….I’m not trying to open a parking meter debate.  I’m pointing out the way a town partnered with business and something unique, in my opinion.  This town is assisting business, not taxing the merchant as a revenue stream.   This assistance or partnership, if I am correct, is a subtle difference in approach to government.  Partnering does more than taxation.

Source: Notice Anything Interesting in the Parking Approach? « EdBoner.com

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10:40 on a weekday morning August 2017

As towns implement parking meters, I think the danger is in forgetting the original purpose.  Parking provides a spot to park vehicles in order to access something.  The access might be for business or a public park or some other amenity.  The purpose of meters should always be to preserve access, but never, in my opinion, to generate additional revenue. Look at some of the comments in another city, considering extending hours until 10PM.  The creeping potential and lure of using meters for a profit is something I dislike.  If Fernandina determines meters are eventually needed, we should do everything possible to hard-code the original purpose into an ordinance and everything possible to remind future commissions of that purpose….access, not revenue!

The city’s 1,525 parking meters cost $1 an hour from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and bring in about $4.6 million a year to the city’s general fund.

By comparison, Boston’s meters cost $1.25 an hour and operate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and meters in Burlington, Vermont, cost $1 an hour and operate from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

“We’re from Portsmouth (New Hampshire) and I could see having to pay until 7 or something like that, but till 9 p.m.? I think that’s really pushing it for tourists to ask them to pay that late,” said Kirsten Moskowitz, who was parking Thursday night on Exchange Street.

Source: http://www.pressherald.com/2015/05/01/group-asks-portland-council-to-consider-extending-parking-meter-hours-until-9-p-m/  8/29/2017