Conservation and Recreation Land…What Value? Byproduct of a Diverse Economic Base….

See the green areas representing conservation or recreational zoning. Source: Nassau County GIS

See the green areas representing conservation or recreational zoning. Source: Nassau County GIS

I’m far more aware of the importance of local industry, after the last few years spent in local government.  Park and conservation areas, to a point, add value to neighborhoods, but how do we find the money to preserve or build these areas?  There is an upper limit, but Amelia Island and, in particular, the northern portion of the island, contains exceptional park, recreation and conservation areas.  Forgetting beaches, omitting the “walkable” areas like the Historic District touted and copied by urban planners worldwide, and even ignoring sidewalks or bike trails, we still boast an exceptional percentage of land reserved for conservation or recreation.  Personally, I see the long term influence of local industry.  Local industry pays more in tax than it consumes in service.   The surplus often pays for cleaner beaches, parks, green space and more.

As we look forward to a cleaner move toward use of a byproduct and addition of local clean jobs at one local plant, I hope we see many more years of economic stability, a healthy tax base and money to care for and nurture the uncommonly high percentage of “green” space.  See the map to the side, with green areas representing either conservation or recreational zoning.  The dark green you see through the middle of the island is mainly the “Egans Creek Greenway”, if you need a point of reference.

I see the continued support for manufacturing jobs as “critically important” to the health of the county and, in turn, the economic health of our island.  A mix of uses creates a healthy tax base.  Losing that perspective is the first step in an unsustainable balance leading to the quality of life we enjoy.  Consider a tax base more dependent on second homes or tourism.   Locals working and living in an area, in my opinion, are much more likely to build or preserve for future generations.

“LignoTech Florida LLC is a newly formed joint venture between Rayonier Advanced Materials, Inc. and Borregaard AS. LignoTech Florida is evaluating an opportunity to fund and build a new facility for the advanced manufacturing of high purity, natural lignin-based products in Fernandina Beach. The project is an outstanding opportunity for Nassau County and the State of Florida to secure a significant capital investment in the state from a leading Norwegian manufacturer. The project is expected to require $110 to $130 million in capital investment and create approximately fifty jobs in Nassau County.  If a final agreement is reached, Rayonier Advanced Materials will become a 45% owner in the joint venture, with Borregaard owning the remaining 55%. This project is undergoing a comprehensive evaluation process before a final decision whether to proceed, including an economic analysis that will validate the viability of this project. Assistance and incentives from the state and local government will be critical to ensure that Fernandina Beach maintains an edge over competing locations.“

Source: (Lignotech Presentation by NCEDB 1/22/16)

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