by: Bill Jones ~ St. Augustine Beach Civic Association

Fans this summer may see a leaner Music by the Sea and perhaps even a shorter season thanks to your St Johns County Board of County Commissioners. The County has doubled the rent on the Pavilion and did so after our Tourism Development Grant submission. Do our TDC grant application, and for that matter our entire budget was set well before this occurred. When asked why a major user of the facility like the Civic Association wasn’t notified of meetings and discussions by the Parks & Rec staff, Administrator Michael Wanchick said “this must have been an oversight”. It seems to be more of a pattern between the County and our City.
The County has also triggered a heated discussion on “pay to park” in our community. A parking fee will be implemented this year, according to Administrator Wanchick in remarks to the County Civic Roundtable group this will happen sooner than later. Our City has quickly pursued a similar option.
Many residents called this a rush and another segment says it’s not needed. In our Board of Directors opinion, we believe and have been encouraging the both bodies to stand down.
The impact of hourly workers like servers and cooks in our local businesses will create two issues. Employees will be more difficult to find or the cost of a hamburger will literally go through the roof. Neither is good for our City’s economy.
The most disappointing thing about all of this is the “kick the can down the road” mentality that exists in our government. We’ve been talking about the lack of parking for almost a decade here without any significant action. And while both bodies had little or no problem finding a pay to park app, no one has come up a single additional parking space or trolley program. It’s nice to see the community engage.
As I write this column, we’re just a few days away from Commissioner Margaret England speaking to our membership about this situation. By the time you read this I hope there’ll be new developments that include some solutions.
Finally we’ve retooled the Civic Association website ! Our webmaster Wayne Fusco has done a remarkable job. The site is clean, easy to use and includes a new page of Community Resources and Contacts. You can join SABCA or renew your membership too!
Of course the site will soon have the 2019 Music by the Sea schedule. Please visit the site and tell us what you think.