Sartin: Name should be “Veterans Island”
By Michael Isam
When local resident, A. J. Sartin, a Vietnam veteran and community activist known to many as “The Florida Dude”, heard about a small group of people that met to decide on a name for the stretch of land from Vilano Beach to Mayport, he began a campaign to give people a greater chance to participate in the process.
St Johns County received an inquiry from the US Board on Geographic Names seeking response to an application to officially name the barrier island, between the Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal Waterway, bordered on the north by the St Johns River and the south by the St Augustine Inlet, “San Pablo Island”.
The affected lands include three small incorporated Duval County cities — Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, and Jacksonville Beach, which constitutes about one-third of the land mass; the remainder is land that lies within un-incorporated St Johns County.
During the St Johns County Commission meeting on Tuesday, September 4, 2012, Historic Resources Coordinator Robin Moore reported that the Cultural Resources Review Board voted unanimously, on August 6, 2012, to recommend denial of this naming. Additionally, “St Johns County staff finds that adding the San Pablo name to these coastal lands is detrimental to the current and historical identity of St. Johns County,” Moore said.
Upon learning of the maneuvering of the Duval county advocates to name the entire landmass “San Pablo Island”, Sartin says he filed his own name suggestion with US Board on Geographic Names.
“I feel the island deserves a name that represents the active, retired, those who have served, and those who have made the greatest sacrifice for our country,” said Sartin. “I feel Veterans Island is a far more appropriate name for it.”
The process involves not only city, county, and state governments, but includes requests for input from US senators and congressional representatives.
From 1886 until June 15, 1925, the City of Jacksonville Beach was known as “Pablo Beach”. Recorded documents show the name “San Pablo” has little historical association to the coastal lands within St Johns County.
Historians feel that affixing the “San Pablo” name to St Johns County coastal areas would add confusion to the established identity of this region as a tourist destination; and, they say, it would dilute the historical significance of other more appropriate names directly related to our nation’s oldest European city.
The St Johns Cultural Resources Review Board, a 9-member panel, is scheduled to meet October 1 at 3:30 pm in the county auditorium, Moore told Historic City News. At this time, Moore says, only “the San Pablo advocates will plead their case.”
“This is not the meeting where a final decision will be made,” sources close to the board say. “The process could stretch into December, or longer.”
Sartin says he’s not waiting. “I need all the support I can muster,” said Sartin. “I created the website www.VeteransIsland.com to help generate support and keep the public apprised of the progress.”