Editor’s note: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace column.
Sometimes there are simple solutions to complex issues. Looking around our area, this is simply true.
So let’s look at five challenging issues facing Nassau County, in particular. Maybe there are apparent solutions, simple in nature and easy to apply.
#1 —The State Road 200/A1A widening project.
This debacle has gone on too long, with traffic congestion hurting local businesses and impeding access to Amelia Island. The Florida Department of Transportation is handling the expansion from four lanes to six lanes, but has done a chaotic and poor job. The FDOT falls directly under the governor’s control, not the state Legislature. Solution: Since new Gov. Ron DeSantis received plenty of support from our area, the county should quickly plead its case to him – with a megaphone. The legislative session just started, so lobbying DeSantis now to prioritize the local project within FDOT makes sense. This project has been delayed numerous times while retail/housing developments erupt around it
#2 –The Fernandina Beach city marina.
Talking about complicating a simple solution. City officials erred in applying for FEMA funds to repair the damage incurred two hurricanes ago. Meanwhile, sales of lucrative marine fuel have suffered, as have marina slip rentals and other water-related activities. All the while, the city focused on constructing a new airport terminal – as a debate rages whether it is a monument or strange artwork (or an actual workable building). Solution: Make the marina priority No. 1. Don’t get distracted by ancillary projects or priorities, because a workable marina is a unique, ultra-valuable asset. Put all hands on deck, in other words.
#3 — Construction projects within the city limits.
There has been an uproar about various commercial projects (Amelia Bluff, for instance), with scrivener’s errors and other miscalculations in the process. The Fernandina Beach building department is inundated. Heck, the building inspector supposedly had to make 50 site visits in one day. Protecting the island resources is too important to leave to developers’ discretion. Solution: Hire ample building inspectors and administrative staff to meet the demand.
#4 — Nassau County’s scrap with Raydient.
This is a real entanglement. Controversies over text messages and handshake agreements and dismissals are mired in rapid-fire lawsuits between the parties involved. The stakes are not too high (hardly). This only involves the biggest commercial development ever in Nassau County. Solution: There is too much riding on this relationship. Both sides are vested in resolving the disagreements (primarily over recreational facilities within the Wildlight development) and bringing about a truce. We need to bring the parties together and resolve the differences (the local Chamber of Commerce has attempted this approach).
#5 — Parking on/at our beaches.
Local officials have tried to regulate beach/beachside parking for years, but citizens always rise up to foil these feeble attempts. Lately, there has been a lot of attention on this issue (beach study groups, paid parking, etc.). Solution: The beaches are for the public, and for their unbridled use. They don’t need further government interference or control. Spend your time on other more-pressing issues (like those listed above).
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 regularly appear in weekly newspapers in North Florida and in South Georgia, and on his website at SteveNicklasMarketplace.com. 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].