Riberia Point – Aquarium not likely to proceed


400-LINCOLNVILLE-GALIMORE-VSomebody can call the time-of-death on the latest Riberia Point project that has failed in the court of public opinion. And, after last week’s town hall style public workshop held at the Willie Galimore Community Center, it seems clear that if the City proposes any plan that introduces, or increases, commercial traffic at the south end of the Lincolnville residential community, it is going to bring with it heated, vocal opposition.

It is not yet known for certain if Marine Conservation Partners, 53-year-old Shawn P. Hiester, and his wife, Kathy, the prospective operators of the St Augustine Aquarium, will continue to pursue the Lincolnville location, start a new search for a more suitable location, or refocus themselves outside the city.

Vice Mayor Nancy Sikes-Kline, who attended the workshop, took note of the overwhelmingly negative response, and is quoted in The St Augustine Report saying, “I think the way this has been handled has put the community in the back seat instead of the driver’s seat.”

City manager John Regan called Historic City News early during the day Thursday, offering to make available all the paperwork associated with the project thus far — which would include the recently approved expenditure of nearly $60,000 to provide appropriate preliminary site planning, engineering, landscape, architecture and other support for the proposed PUB zoning.

Timothy A. Burchfield has been employed by the City since May of 1990 and presently earns $125,080 annually, plus benefits, as Assistant City Manager. He does not live within the City limits, he lives in Elkton. Since February of 1990, and throughout his employment, he has also held a Certified Public Accountant license. The City’s Chief Financial Officer and Comptroller, Mark Litzinger, however, is not a Certified Public Accountant.

Burchfield produced the following four-page report of estimated taxes and expenditures required by the project. He has projected a return on this investment in 4.9 years.