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Substantial Amelia Island beach infrastructure upgrade pegged as decades-long project

Amelia Island’s beach harmonization project is no small feat — just explaining the basics took about an hour for a consultant to do for the island’s Tourist Development Council.

The planners at EDSA, in conjunction with the TDC and Nassau County, are pushing four aspects for each of the beaches — environmental protection, parking, “looking at the program of each park and making sure they complement  each other, as well as making sure the community comments are addressed for what program at what park,” according to EDSA urban planner Katie Poppel.

They’re also looking at aesthetics, cohesion and harmonization of the parks in general. Those parks go from the north to the south end of the island — North Beach, Main Beach, Seaside Beach, Peter’s Point, Scott Road, Burney Beach and South Beach Access.

The project kicked off with an online survey, which Poppel said was taken by more than 1,000 people so far. 

To get to all the infrastructure upgrades and everything else involved, though, takes money, which will come out of the room tax. But there’s not enough money on hand for the project as a whole.

“What I’m getting to is, where is the money coming from for this?” asked TDC member and Fernandina Beach City Commissioner Len Kreger. “When we started all of this, and the county determined, and the TDC, that Seaside/Sadler would be the priority park, we probably need a million dollars plus, just for that.”

The harmonization project, however, is more like a master plan, per Assistant County Manager Marshall Eyerman.

“From the broad perspective, basically, as we’re looking at this plan that’s laid out — transition and harmonization of the beach parks that will occur 10, 20, 30 years as funding in all those items come into place,” Eyerman said. “But as we look at each item, once we get a view of what we want, there’s going to be a process of selecting which parks, which pieces come forward, how we do them incrementally over time.” 

Some of the projects can be funded by impact fees and other funding sources.

“As many of these parks may be toward the end of their lifespan on some of the improvements where we need to replace walkovers, we were going to replace walkovers through different items, so now we can take those funds and build them in the vision of the whole beach harmonization,” Eyerman said.

“Funding will basically vary depending on the time and projects and how we want to implement this over that period.”

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