Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Future of a Nassau Island Is Up in the Air; the Land in the Amelia River Could Be Donated ... or the Family May Keep It

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Future of a Nassau Island Is Up in the Air; the Land in the Amelia River Could Be Donated ... or the Family May Keep It

Article excerpt

Byline: MARY HURST

FERNANDINA BEACH - The Stevenson boys, growing up on a dirt road called Clinch Drive in the 1950s, had the ability to live like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.

The boys, John and Paul, would make boats or rafts out of whatever they could find, then fashion paddles out of wood and head to the family's private island in the Amelia River.

"We were always outside entertaining ourselves," John Stevenson said. "Times were different then."

The Stevenson family are descendents of the Waas and Routishauser families. The island came into the Routishauser family in 1903.

The Routishauser family had a bottling plant. They said they imported fine wines.

"Actually, they were bootleggers," Stevenson said.

Now that the Stevenson brothers are older - they both are in their 60s - they thought about selling the 7-acre island.

Put up for sale at $1.5 million, they got no serious offers, so they took it off the market. Now, they're contemplating offering it to the Boy Scouts so other boys would have some of the same fond memories they have of camping under the stars on their island.

The brothers, having been Boy Scouts themselves, and John Stevenson's twin sons being Eagle Scouts, Stevenson said he feels it may be the best use of it.

The brothers tried to negotiate with officials from the Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit group that works to preserve undeveloped land, but John Stevenson said they offered them 25 percent of the asking price and wanted them to jump through too many hoops.

Now they're pondering donating it. Or they might keep it. They haven't decided.

Within eyeshot of the Thomas Shave Bridge where Jackson Creek empties into the Amelia River, the island would be a great place to build a house, he said, if one likes solitude.

"The solitude is unbelievable. …

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