So far the “Sidewalk to Nowhere” that doesn’t go anywhere from the West corner of Centre Street alongside the Duryee Building to the front of the Salty Pelican is still going nowhere and nobody I’ve talked to knows anything about when or if it may go somewhere.
This bizarre situation gained local notoriety more than two years ago when Massachusetts visitor Jen Niles, pictured above a few weeks ago still unsuccessfully attempting to get from Centre Street to the Pelican, was catapulted out of her wheelchair. From the above photo it is obvious she still can’t successfully navigate the gravel, railroad tracks, dirt obstacles and parked vehicles that clog the disputed route.
In a letter to the local News-Leader recently attorney John Cascone, who has an office above the Marina Restaurant in the Duryee Building, says there never was a sidewalk there, ever, and adds that the current owner of the Marina Restaurant there has been more than generous in her offers to the city to help; local citizens in comments to me and in the local paper say otherwise; the city says only that it is waiting for CSX to approve plans to construct a sidewalk that they said was to have begun “right after Thanksgiving” last year; and I’ve talked to three different folks at CSX in government relations and public relations offices this week who are still scurrying around their corporate maze trying to come up with a response.
The strip of property at issue is sandwiched between Front Street, the Duryee building and CSX railroad tracks and has lots of folks pointing fingers, getting red faced, confused or clamming up. The losers here are visitors to downtown, those in wheelchairs or using walkers and canes and pushing baby carriages or strollers, trying to make their way to the Salty Pelican, as well as the owners of the Pelican, who actually privately financed their own sidewalk and even generously offered to pay for the nowhere one if only someone would just approve it.
The city was visited by folks from Washington, DC, who told the town Palookas they were in violation of the Americans for Disabilities Act and warned them to take action. So far that visit has resulted in some changes made to a CSX rail crossing and Front Street but the sidewalk to nowhere still leads there.
Two and a half years ago when I penned the Dave’s World column for the News Leader, the paper’s Editor Michael Parnell and Publish Foy Maloy, edited all mention of the controversial sidewalk out of my columns. In one column they also eliminated the fact that a directional arrow sign purchased by the Pelican from the city that was placed by city employees, not on the corner street lamp like all others in town, but atop a light pole in the downtown marina parking lot where it went unnoticed by all but a few seagulls. It has since been placed on the street lamp in front of the Marina Restaurant.
When I complained about the paper’s editing Maloy sent me the following curt response, leading me to believe there was, and is obviously, still some kind of good ‘ole boy conspiracy afoot to leave things just the way they are and treat old friends with a light touch while displaying contempt for newcomers:
On Fri, Oct 12, 2012 at 11:24 AM, Foy Maloy <email@example.com> wrote:
I thought I made myself pretty clear in our lengthy conversation last Friday – I sated that I would no longer publish anything further about the Salty Pelican or the Marina Restaurant until the numerous messy situations are dealt with by the City.
Sorry for any misunderstanding you may have had.
Foy Maloy, Publisher
Nassau County Record
511 Ash Street
Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
Folks, don’t look for a short term fix here. Maybe the rubble-strewn strip can be turned into a tourist attraction devoted to the ineptitude of local government, stupidity, corporate bureaucracy and a media cover up. Oh wait, it already is.
What The Heck Is Going On Here Department: Forget any false allegations about Fernandina Beach City Commissioner Tim Poynter abusing his elected position to influence the town’s decision making process for his personal and business gain as yesterday the city shot down Poynter’s proposal to construct an extended stay facility, telling him that parking was an issue, a hollow argument that doesn’t hold water. The city should be falling all over itself to encourage downtown business ventures that increase revenue, provide jobs and tax money, but instead this group of bungling bozos are looking for ways to squelch revenue and tax base producing enterprises. If I was a resident of the downtown historic residential area anywhere near the North 5th Street old Baptist Church education center, I would have done everything I could to ensure that local restaurateur Poynter was successful in leasing and converting this decomposing building into a tax paying, attractive facility to lodge guests who want extended stays. Poynter’s prospective customers weren’t migrant field hands, but business executives on extended trips; those building or renovating a house; people visiting family or friends that don’t have adequate space for them in their homes; house hunters; among others. So what was the beef here? For the past nine years the three-story church building has sat almost totally vacant and decaying with the exception of a small part of the first floor being used temporarily by St. Michaels, and that will end as soon as that Catholic Church’s construction is final in a few weeks. So the area will have an almost 50-year-old structure sitting totally empty with no heating, ventilation and air conditioning units running, a condition that will inevitably lead to more decay. And since Poynter’s proposal didn’t get approved, what’s to stop someone else from coming in, buying the property, tearing it down and building something the neighbors or inept city officials like even less? Instead of playing the role of “Grumpy Old Man,” Ron Sapp, a resident of the area and a fierce vocal opponent of the project, should have been cheering Poynter onward, instead of trying to turn the clock back to 1955. Or maybe Mr. Sapp was hoping the building would fall on Mr. Poynter and then when Mr. Sapp tapped his magical red slippers together, Pop Tate’s Malt Shop would suddenly appear with Archie and Jughead sitting at the counter. There was no sane reason to oppose Poynter’s plan and if you read the local News Leader’s opposition to the site, you’ll realize that sanity and objectivity fled that company’s building long ago. Good grief people, grab your pitch forks and torches and march on city hall as something is drastically wrong there because the Frankenstein monster is running our town.
Thinking Out Loud: The folks in charge of the Shrimp Festival announced that they have selected a design by out-of-town artist Steve Whitlock as the winning design for a variety of the May 1-3 festival’s official stuff for sale including T-shirts, tote bags, etc. Mr. Whitlock’s design is well done, but I’m wondering why we don’t limit the design competition to local artists. We have galleries full of folks who are handy with a brush and pallet and boast degrees as impressive, if not more so, than Mr. Whitlock’s. Just wondering.
Maybe They’re Paid By The Word: I like football as much as the next guy, but good grief, basketball season just ended and baseball season just started, but you could never tell that by reading the Jacksonville-based Florida Times-Union, which treats every day like its opening day for the Jacksonville Jaguars, a hapless NFL team whose season ended more than three months ago with just three victories. Either the sports writers have a contest going among themselves to see who can produce the most column inches of copy about the Jaguars in the off season or these guys are paid by the word. I’ve haven’t seen a newspaper so over the top about an organization since the New York Times’ daily attacks on the George W. Bush administration
I’m Buying This Book: I’m always delighted when flipping through the Weekend Wall Street Journal’s Review section to find a book review by Ed Kosner, Amelia Island resident and former editor of Newsweek, New York, Esquire, and the New York Daily News. As an avid baseball fan this article convinced me to buy the reviewed book and provides a variety of reasons other fans will too. Kosner paints a fascinating verbal picture of New York Times Sports Department staffer Bill Pennington’s 530-page “Billy Martin: Baseball’s Flawed Genius” adding insights of his own saying: “Martin would motivate players by telling them that teammates were gunning for their jobs and talking against them,” a tactic that would always backfire on the mercurial manager, says Kosner, as it would cause him to lose the clubhouse loyalty in about two seasons, when they figured out he was playing them off against each other. Kosner, who the review’s bio says attended his first Yankee game in 1947, describes Martin’s personality as described by Pennington in a colorful fashion and is as entertaining as the book, summing up the fiery baseball legend as “….the runty, pugnacious second baseman of the Yankees…..Martin wore No. 1 on his pinstriped back and was always first in his own mind.” If Kosner’s call-to-action was to convince readers to buy this book it worked.
Speaking Of Books: For those readers who know who Shelby Steele is they’re probably aware of his new book: “Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country.” Those unfamiliar with Mr. Steele can learn a lot from this fascinating man, particularly in light of the left’s frenzy over the shootings of black men by police in Ferguson, MO, Cleveland, New York City and so on. The 69-year-old Steele is an American author, columnist, documentary film maker, and a Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution specializing in the study of race relations, multiculturalism and affirmative action. He is also counted among that elite group of people calling themselves “black conservatives.” In his book Mr. Steele explains why he gave up the liberal ideology and turned to conservatism, saying that he identifies with a former liberalism that launched the civil rights movement: “that liberalism, which sought freedom for the individual above all else.” But “liberalism in the 21st Century,” says Steele is, “for the most part a moral manipulation that exaggerates inequity and unfairness in American life in order to justify overreaching public policies and programs.” In the book he refers to a comment he made as the lone conservative on a panel when he said he wanted an end to white guilt. “White people,” he said, were “crushing blacks with paternalism in an attempt to show themselves innocent of racism. That was bad for whites, bad for blacks,– bad for America.” The liberal audience reacted to those comments as though he’d just donned a KKK robe. The book is short (208 pages) but packed with solid thinking and is a worthy read.
One of America’s Top 10 Disgusting People: Sleaze ball and liar Harry Reid (D-NV), the US Senate Minority Leader, stood on the floor of the US Senate and knowingly used that prestigious platform to protect himself from lying when he said during the 2012 election that Mitt Romney didn’t pay taxes for 10 years. This raspy-voiced phony, who has no redeeming qualities, today stands by that statement saying “He lost didn’t he” as a valid excuse. Mitt Romney’s tax returns show that he paid $60 million dollars in taxes over his working lifetime so far, with that money going to support welfare, food stamps, and other so called entitlements, while community organizers who hand out forms to folks who want some of the benefits paid for from his tax money, pay nothing, and get the money that people like Mitt Romney and other wealthy people have taken from them by the federal government. And Mr. Romney’s tax money is in addition to the jobs that people like him created to help folks buy houses, cars, groceries, etc. Shouldn’t the current administration stop demonizing wealthy people’s success and encourage others to follow their example thus generating more taxes and jobs? Oh, wait, what am I thinking? A person like Harry Reid in the US Senate is a disgrace to this country and his party should be ashamed…but they aren’t.
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Did I mention that I’m no longer persona non grata at the Centre Street Courtyard Pub & Grill? After being told to “get out” a few weeks ago by an irate owner who took offense to my comments about his place in this space, I wandered back in with my wife, Linda, and two cousins from the Tampa Bay area’s Indian Rocks Beach and received a pleasant welcome from the owner, who even sent me a beer on the house. Piano man John Springer was at his best as usual and my cousins were delighted with the joint. Yesterday, I stopped by again and Mr. Springer was once again receiving heart-felt applause from an appreciative audience. If you want to impress out-of-town guests take them to hear John Springer any Thursday evening at the Courtyard, 6:30-9:30 pm.