Atlantic Beach Will Continue To Explore Acquisition of Johnston Island

City is considering the property as a potential waterfront park.

The Atlantic Beach City Commission has instructed the city staff to continue doing research on the acquisition of Johnston Island, an 8.5 acres island just north of the Atlantic Boulevard bridge, of which 3.1 acres is developable.

The city first began discussing purchasing the island in October, 2016. The plan floated at the time was for a park is conceptualized as a four-lane boat ramp and kayak launch facility with a fishing dock, bait shop, small restaurant, and picnic areas. The total cost of the improvements are estimated to be about $3.75 to $4.5 million, and that does not include the cost of the property itself.

In August of 2017, Jacksonville District 13 Councilman Bill Gulliford wrote a letter to the Atlantic Beach Commission saying he would be willing to look into assisting with the purchase of the island.

Commissioner Blythe Waters placed a resolution on the Commission’s Monday night agenda. She said the city needs to do its due diligence on the possible purchase, even with potential grant from the City of Jacksonville. “The reality is that, even if we get an assist in buying this property, it is still going to need maintenance and service,” Waters said. “None of that can be denied, and it’s part of the financial picture, but making a decision to buy the property, it has to make financial sense. And if part of the puzzle of making it make financial sense is that we get a huge assist on its purchase, then I think that’s something we need to know before we make a decision about buying it.”

Commissioner John Stinson said that before proceeding, the commission needs to know why they are buying the property. “We buy it, we’ve got a million dollars to put utilities in there, you’re not going to change the access easily or cheaply, into or out of that island. And I think therein lies the issue. And we have to make sure that the purchase price reflects what the actual value of the property is, and I don’t think it’s $1.5 million dollars.”

Despite those misgivings, the commission voted unanimously to to continue to explore the potential purchase of the Johnston Island property to see if it makes sense for the city.


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