Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Marina Fix-Up Plans Refloated; Fernandina Beach: Funding Discussed

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Marina Fix-Up Plans Refloated; Fernandina Beach: Funding Discussed

Article excerpt

Byline: Alison Trinidad, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

Nearly eight years after it was first proposed, a multimillion-dollar plan to renovate the Fernandina Harbor Marina is back on the move.

Fernandina Beach commissioners this year began scrutinizing the city marina, which for decades has been troubled by silt and poor revenue flow. They voted Tuesday to resurrect the plan that commissioners had put on hold in 2000 because of a lack of money to pay for it.

Commissioners are considering borrowing $5 million to push the project to completion by July 2005, when a construction permit to renovate the marina is set to expire. That permit, issued in 1999, was to expire this month, but was extended for a year.

During an hourlong discussion, commissioners whittled components from the plan in an effort to pare down costs. Andrew Holesko of Passero Associates, the engineering firm hired to complete the plan, presented several cost-saving amendments.

Commissioner Michael Lamb cast the only dissenting vote. He said he wanted more time to study the plan before committing millions of dollars.

"I don't know why one afternoon in a workshop is going to hurt anything so we [can] iron out exactly what we're going to do, how we're going to do it and what we expect to achieve from it," Lamb said.

Other commissioners argued that the plan had been in place for years, but only needed funding to complete.

"We've got a funding source," Commissioner Ken Walker said. "It's a legitimate funding source. . . . I don't need to know where every blade of grass or every board or plaque is going. I just want to get the thing going."

A modified version of the project's first phase was completed in 2000. City consultants estimate that it will cost almost $7 million to finish the project as designed. Though it's a city enterprise, which means it is supposed to generate enough funds to pay for itself, the marina would not be able to afford the project costs with its revenues.

City Manager Robert Mearns suggested modeling the marina after the city's Parks and Recreation Department. Its revenues go into the general fund, and its expenses come from the general fund. …

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