I remember the days when I drove onto the beach at Main Beach and took the scenic route to the South End, looking for schools of fish or a good peak when I was a teenager. With friends, I used a seine net to pull in fish, surf fished, or just found a secluded part of the beach to enjoy on days off. Main Beach had a waterslide, go carts, putt putt and a skating rink….along with a country bar and small grocery store. The parking lots you see now were dirt and instead of a boardwalk, the granite rocks everyone forgets were often exposed. Years later, I’m not so sure we aren’t moving away from quality use of the space. When I drove from one end of the island to the other, the population and use on Amelia Island was far lower. Concentrating parking in one place, essentially to generate revenue and make a parking lot…..well, why?
In the News Leader, you’ll find a summary of the issue. http://www.fbnewsleader.com/articles/2011/10/06/news/00newspaidsandparking.txt See the specific discussion of kiosks at Main Beach and Sliders.
Parking is always partly public and partly private. I see the expansion of parking onto the beach as a way to allow commercial use, charge a fee for this and do it all without requiring paved parking. As seating and uses adjoining parks increases, the debate we keep putting aside….rises again…and again…and again. Generating revenue from parking. Why do I oppose this kind of revenue generation? Well, for one reason, I don’t think it would work in the way intended. To charge a fee to park on the beach, you also need to hire an attendant, have someone patrol the area, pick up the beach, post signs and account for the area in off season when you’ll have a tiny fraction of the use. Then the sea turtle issue or environmental issue arises if you’re charging for parking in one area. Nests would be relocated. Well, then you have the issue of driving and children. I remember a girl run over by a truck here on Amelia Island years ago. Once you take driving or parking off a public beach, how do you put it back without a taking of rights from someone else? Is making, essentially a public parking lot of a beach something we really want? See the link below for the way Satellite Beach handles a beach park area. Years ago, I surfed this beach and others. The evolution of the parks in Central Florida is interesting. I can see actual parks and well managed areas. Creating an environmentally unfriendly parking lot….essentially making parking for nearby businesses on the beach, in my opinion, is hard to justify.
What do I want for the future? I’d like to see Fernandina evolve in a number of ways, but at all times, preserve the future standard of living. Undoing a paid parking lot on the beach, in my humble opinion, is not as easy as making it.
- Preserve the green space.
- Try to think about the future of the island not just the problem you have today.
- Stop looking for revenue generating schemes and cut beginning at home.
- Main Beach, in particular has evolved to become a nice oceanfront park with plenty of access. Driving on the beach is not the same as creating a paid parking area on the beach.
Having been completely renovated in 2007, Pelican Beach Park is a wonderful place to have a family gathering or company picnic.
The park has 6 pavilions you can rent all equipped with various size grills. The smallest pavilion can accommodate 12 people while
the largest can hold up to 70. Rentals are available between 9:00am till dusk.
Pelican Beach Park Rental Facility