GCS runs aground dealing with abandoned Gambit

By Nick Blank
Posted 4/3/19

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The city and the county have an 85-foot, $170,000 problem on the bank of the St. Johns River with a derelict vessel, the “Gambit.”

According to city documents, Clay …

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GCS runs aground dealing with abandoned Gambit

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The city and the county have an 85-foot, $170,000 problem on the bank of the St. Johns River with a derelict vessel, the “Gambit.”

According to city documents, Clay County officials applied for a 75-percent Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission grant to remove a Burger steel cabin cruiser run aground the Muddy Cove area. The cost of removal is $172,805.

The grant requires a 25-percent match, or $43,201.25, and the final grant agreement will go before county commissioners April 9.

The county asked the city to “participate” up to $10,000 in assisting the county due to the boat’s location. The county listed 10 derelict boats it removed since 2013. Most boat removals cost between $600-$38,000, though FWC offers reimbursement for some vessels. The total cost for the 10 removals, however, was $134,677.

The “Gambit” has lingered in Muddy Cove since Hurricane Irma in September 2017. The owner is listed as Kelin Xiang from Sunny Isles Beach. City Attorney L.J. Arnold said usually locating an owner for a derelict vessel was usually futile.

“Due to the sheer size and displacement of this vessel, the recovery and removal may require the use of a commercial tugboat,” the project proposal stated.

Assistant City Manager and Public Works Director Mike Null said the boat was the biggest dot in the cove on Google Earth. Vice-Mayor Steven Kelley joked that it wasn’t as if the owner lost a lawnmower.

“For the activities and the more use, we have for the park and the view, [removing the vessel] would be well worth it,” City Manager Steve Kennedy said. “No one is denying that.”

City council members agreed to the county’s request and directed staff to find an appropriate source for funding.

Council Member Mitch Timberlake said it bettered the county when the abandoned boats were removed. He called the boat a hazard that had become dilapidated.

“We as a council have worked hard for a way to get those abandoned and derelict vessels removed from Green Cove. I think it would be disingenuous on our part if we didn’t do something to assist the county,” Timberlake said. “It’s in worse and worse shape. It’s not only a hazard, it’s a danger.”

In other business, council members approved a 2019 After Action Report for the city sponsored Augusta Savage Cultural Arts Festival held Feb. 23. The report said the festival made more than $1,500.

Friends of Augusta Savage President Henrietta Francis touted the event’s hands-on activities for kids and advertising that made the festival a success at Spring Park. She thanked the city for its effort.

“You all are very supportive, and we want to let you know how much we appreciate that,” Francis said.

City council members also approved $55,198 for new playground equipment as Spring Park.

“There’s some equipment that really needs to be replaced,” Mayor Connie Butler said.

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