Trail Blazers, Quality of Life and Local Growth

The Amelia Island Trail, East Coast Greenway
The Amelia Island Trail, East Coast Greenway

Editor’s note: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace column.


A movie is playing at the local B&B Theatre about a famous black musician who blazed trails of tolerance through the south in the 1960s.

Little did I know, but sitting next to me during the superb movie “Green Book” was Phil Scanlan, who has blazed trails across Amelia Island. Scanlan has been instrumental in carving out the elaborate Amelia Island Trails network.

The popular trail system winds through our area and into Jacksonville along Heckscher Drive. These trails are regularly used for exercise and enjoyment by walkers, joggers, bicyclists, etc.

Scanlan penned a letter in last week’s newspaper about lifestyle advancements in our area, driven primarily by the influx of new residents and businesses. A side effect has been more traffic and congestion. But I agree with him that it’s worth it. The quality of life here has dramatically improved, for most people.

Scanlan delineated our new amenities, like expanded libraries and community theaters (not to mention the comfortable B&B), posh resorts, a delectable choice of restaurants. And sophisticated services for senior citizens, world-class healthcare and better schools.

Of course, the trail network driven by Scanlan is a vital improvement. Let’s not forget the convenience of having stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot nearby, when before you had to drive to Jacksonville.

And we have many activities, like excellent golf and tennis, and even boat tours. And outstanding non-profit groups like the Boys & Girls clubs and the Barnabas Center and the Council on Aging. Or restored historic buildings, like the downtown post office and houses in downtown Fernandina Beach.

The Council on Aging has stood out, expanding exponentially amid the increase in population. It helps seniors across the county. Over the years, the COA has broadened its facilities and services, from transportation to meals to informative classes.

Services and amenities like these wouldn’t be available without the growth and progress we have realized. Any place is either growing or dying.

We are thriving; our lifestyle here is nearly unsurpassed. And it can be preserved, with the likes of protective ordinances and the state-registered restriction on the height of buildings on Amelia Island. Most of Fernandina Beach is already built out, except for a few pockets. The widening of highways off the island should help with traffic, but future growth must be monitored.

Our area has advanced significantly in recent years. This is sweet music to our ears. And to Phil’s.


Steve Nicklas Financial Advisor
Steve Nicklas, Financial Advisor

Steve Nicklas, CRPC®, is a financial advisor with a U.S. brokerage firm who lives and works on Amelia Island. He is also an award-winning columnist. His columns also appear in weekly newspapers in North Florida and in South Georgia, and on his website at He has published a book, “All About Money,” of his favorite columns from the past 20 years. The book is available at local stores and on Amazon. He can be reached at 904-753-0236 or at [email protected].

Investment Perspectives with Janney’s Mark Luschini

You’re invited to a complimentary presentation featuring Mark Luschini, Janney’s chief investment strategist. “Seeing the Picture When the View if Less Than Clear” is an outlook on the economy and markets and the primary factors that could influence investment performance in 2019. Luschini is regularly seen on CNBC, Bloomberg TV and Fox Business News.

The complimentary presentation will be 5-7 p.m. on Feb. 20 at the Nassau County Chamber of Commerce, 961687 Gateway Blvd., Fernandina Beach. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served. For information or to RSVP, please call Asante Smalling at 904-280-5350 or the local Janney office at 904-572-0265.