Hurricane Irma Update and Useful Information

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.


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.

Source: 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? «

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:  8/29/2017

Brugmansia or Angel’s Trumpet

Fairly common on the island, this species can be dangerous.   Consider wearing gloves if pruning to avoid any contact with or ingestion of sap or plant!  Last year, I stopped to warn someone pruning a large area of these plants.  The sap from blooms or sap from cutting these can be a danger.  img_2313

According to the The American Journal of Psychiatry “Ingestion of Angel’s Trumpet flowers or a tea brewed from them results in an alkaloid-induced central nervous system anticholinergic syndrome characterized by symptoms such as fever, delirium, hallucinations, agitation, and persistent memory disturbances. Severe intoxication may cause flaccid paralysis, convulsions, and death.”

We have a few potentially toxic plants, including Oleander.  The biggest danger with oleander is in burning the clippings after trimming.

Cuban Coffee and Routines

16770777308_afd34ca436_oI’m convinced!  Great restaurants and coffee shops create value and make my job easier.  I’d guess I bring at least one client to Hola Cuban Café every month.   Having a handful of small coffeeIMG_2295 shops or restaurants to take clients, knowing the owners and knowing the menu, can make a huge difference when showing off your hometown.

Real estate brokers are often tour guides…expected to know a little about almost everything in an area.   I’m a native and playing tour guide is my favorite part of the job and gives me an excuse to spend time talking with my wife over coffee.   If you’re interested in great coffee, Hola Cuban Café is on North 2nd Street, just behind the Palace Saloon.  It isn’t big, but serves authentic Cuban cuisine and excellent coffee.   IMG_1705

Since I’m thinking about routines and morning coffee, t


he island has something unique we all take for granted.  Almost everything I need in a day is less than 5 minutes from home.   If I need more time in the gym, lunch becomes a fast hour at the YMCA or Club 14.  If we haven’t been to the beach lately, the free parking and 5 minute drive makes the island feel like an every day vacation.   I do admit to one flaw in the island.  Budgeting time for


work and budgeting time for play sometimes requires a schedule.   I started writing in time at the gym a few months ago, along with a daily list for my next day, before leaving the office.downtn1floyd1

By the way, if you work on the island and meals with clients are a part of work, definitely schedule time time at  a gym.  We have some amazing restaurants for such a small town!



Silt, Silt and more $ilt

In 2011, before ruunning for the Fernandina Beach City Commission, a local attorney gave me most of the information linked below.  Everything below is public record, but reading may help in understanding the marina’s history.


96110 ATM Feasibility Study Marina and Misc

A key to understanding silt is in seeing the features limiting a natural flow of current.  We needed to be further west and would benefit by any construction toward the Port of Fernandina, a naturally deep and minimally silted part of the waterfront.  A recent CoFB Commission discussion related to grants and marina changes is embedded below.

Hurricane Matthew damage, DOT’s attention to Front Street, Alachua, continuing silt damage and vacancy at the marina are all adding to the pressure.   Regardless, this is worth following if you live in Fernandina.

IMG_1112 IMG_1100

Synopsis: Authorizes the submittal of a BIG-P
application to the FWC in the amount of $1,500,000
and agrees to provide a 51.4% match in the amount of $1,585,695 for expansion northward of the
Fernandina Harbor Marina.

Election Issues Important to the City of Fernandina Beach

I talked with a friend a few minutes ago.   During the conversation, he wanted to know why I felt a blog would have any local impact and it led to thoughts of our last “off-year” election.  Fernandina voted to change back to four year terms for commissioners, but the cycle didn’t end until every commissioner holding office for the shorter term rotated through…ending on an even year.  Anyway, I thought it would be informative to post a poll to a “locals only” social media group, requesting input into issues facing the city.   IMG_2264

waterfront master plan 2009In 2017, what are the most important issues facing the Fernandina Beach City Commission?  The answers were predictable and interesting.  Beyond all other responses, there was a great concern for the Fernandina marina and condition after Hurricane Matthew.  As of today, the questions and responses are still open.  Interesting in participating?  The direct link to the “Poll” is linked here.   You should be a local resident to choose concerns or add to the choices.

Moving back to the discussion of blogs and influence, we talked a little about the waterfront and how much or little might happen.  I have mixed feelings.  The marina and front street need work now.  Alachua Street opening is something we must either choose now or risk never having an opportunity to open.  The Fernandina Observer has an interesting article covering recent developments along the water and it is worth considering as we move toward an election.


Various Background Documents/Studies Related to the Waterfront, Alachua, Parks or Marina

Front Street Geotechnical Report (March 2012)
Vision 2000

Vision 2020
Waterfront Vision

Waterfront Park Plan

Waterfront Community Redevelopment Area Plan (CRA Plan)
Community Redevelopment Area Finding of Necessity

Community Redevelopment Area Traffic Circulation/Parking Study

Walker Downtown Parking Study

HDC Recommendations to City Commission (July 2010)

Forward Fernandina Strategic Plan

Beyond the waterfront issues, the decisions facing the city are a little more complicated in 2017IMG_2218After 2009 to 2012, several changes have a bearing on the decisions surrounding the waterfront.  First for many locals, we want to see a functioning marina again.   I understand, after taking the time to reach out to current commission members and the marina’s manager, it takes time to rebuild if we want federal assistance.   Rebuilding without the assistance after Hurricane Matthew would face another set of criticism.  At one point, the concern was a marina without fuel.  I’m told fuel should be back in place, hopefully, in December of 2017.  Once we receive assistance, assuming this happens, are we rebuilding a flawed design or rebuilding with a relocated channel and further north along Front Street.  A larger marina or a marina with slips north of the current location offers several advantages.  Less silt is important, but taking advantage of the recently purchased property on Front Street allows greater efficiency and consistently deeper dockage.

IMG_2219Another issue is Front Street.  Deteriorating, it is now a frequent spot for overflow parking.   Improvements along front, the water, opening Alachua or repairing the failing road, all need to consider the possibility of using the street as a one-way, not two-way street to add parking and possibly improve railway safety.  What happens with Alachua?  In 2012, it was assumed Alachua might open without any other dramatic changes required.  Quiet zones were on the wish list for Fernandina and no one seemed to think about the crossings or potential for any required closure of a street.   The world is much more complex….or the waterfront issues are more complex than they were in 2009 or 2012.

So, political leaders are faced with decisions and a snowballing rate of change.  We must have repairs to the Fernandina Harbor Marina and Front Street.   Repairs and improvements are different issues, but we should consider the likely long term planning for an area before making any change.   My hope would be to eliminate most or all the need for dredging silt, preserve parking, repair streets and drainage in a logical fashion and consider any short-term move of the marina in the plan to repair.  This appears to be happening….just not quickly.

Other issues we may face in the coming few years include an airport building at a higher than planned budget, potential changes to City Hall as the building nears obsolescence, an offer of a refurbished post office location to the CoFB and continued debate over parking.   Since I’m mentioning parking, I do think the parking will change as merchants see a problem.  With more than 20 restaurants in Historic Downtown Fernandina, certain times of the day are crowded.  Does it matter to my business?  I’m usually in the office every morning, but leave for appointments later in the day.    The change to density and encouraging diverse uses will do more to reduce the peak need for parking.   Meters or managed parking has one purpose, in my opinion….maintain fair and reasonable access for businesses or property owners.  If we see any future managed parking in terms of providing access, not revenue generation, it will be universally accepted.