A news article printed in the Palatka Daily News in late December titled, Palatka commissioners might learn from Fernandina redo, suggests downtown Palatka should learn a thing or two from Fernandina Beach’s historic district. I found that comment interesting since our citizens disagree on funding the improvements needed in Fernandina.
I also found the date of the article interesting. It was published just a few weeks after the citizens voted out two commissioners in favor of once again revitalizing downtown with a loan that will be repaid by city residents on their utility bill. His public opinion printed before the election may have changed a few minds because the author is very familiar with our city.
Jody Delzell, the author of the article, was once the supervisor of the NewsLeader in Fernandina Beach and realizes that past improvements grow old. “Back around 1975, They practically rebuilt Fernandina’s Centre Street beginning with water and sewer lines, new pavement, improved parking, nice landscaping and lighting.” Mr. Delzell says.
Fernandina and Palatka face many of the same issues found in old towns everywhere. Large box retailers are driving traffic away from downtown and businesses are closing. Yes, Fernandina has an ocean, Fort Clinch and shrimp boats which help attract tourism, not to mention our old homes. In comparison, Palatka has a charming waterfront with wonderful visibility for water events and Mr. Delzell mentions …”a turn of the century hotel. (That may be one area where Palatka outshines them.)” This is likely in reference to The Keystone Hotel that was torn down in 1972 in Fernandina’s historic district. The author even mentions our Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival and how it has grown to become one of the best festivals in the Southeast.
While the article continues to compare the two towns, there is no doubt the bickering of citizens arguing over the source of funding improvements can be heard 90 miles to our south. Mr. Delzell believes we will get it worked out, and he adds that “Fernandina is making the most of its amenities,” something he is hoping for Palatka to do in this New Year. At least someone thinks we are getting it “right!”