Key Downtown Economic Driver…Fernandina Harbor Marina

Fuel for the local economy isn’t always actual “FUEL”, but a marina without nearby fuel is much more difficult to manage at a profit.   After Hurricane Matthew, the marina in Downtown Fernandina Harbor Marina has been working at a fraction of it’s capacity.  The fuel normally sold was interrupted by the damage and repairing the marina with fuel was an unknown.

After talking with the Westrec Marina Manager earlier, I’m encouraged by recent developments.  A request for an extension of grants and the ability to repurpose a portion of the grant money to cover the fuel facility should mean we have fuel by December of this year.  Why so much time?  Well, the damaged equipment must be removed, new lines hung and precision tested.

What happens, other than restoring the fuel?  Well, my wish would be to see the marina restored quickly, but expand the marina northward toward the port, while reconfiguring boat slips to minimize silt.  If possible, I hope efforts to shift the breakwater west succeed and the marina is expanded north along Front Street.   Do you see the green/blue roof in the picture above?   The city owns riparian rights to expand into a deeper and less silt prone area.  Shifting the marina breakwater west, expanding north and restoring fuel restores the marina in a way insuring future profits and economic impact for Downtown Fernandina.  It also, if done correctly, should nearly eliminate the need to dredge every few years.    About have the area between Brett’s and the Cook property is a natural mud flat and will always silt.  In my opinion, every effort should be made to rebuild/repair our marina outside that natural mud flat…or we’ll just be building another expensive silt trap.

Understanding the idea of a nearby ammenity like a marina is key to understanding Fernandina.  Events like fishing tournaments and the MTOA visits each year are the most visible piece, but a full marina contributes significantly to downtown merchants.  Jobs are created and the money spent is multiplied here on the island.   A functioning marina, contributing an economic benefit to surrounding business the goal.

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