Q&A with St. Johns County Commissioner Jeremiah Blocker (District 4)

Q: Can you give some background on the recent closure of the Mickler’s Beach parking lot?

A: We had a number of homeowners come to us with a request to allow them to use county property, Mickler’s parking lot — only a portion of it and only for a limited period of time. (The homeowners have approval from the State of Florida to do their renourishment project and they are spending their own money on it.) This is a routine request that we receive regularly from private citizens. On Oct. 1, the Board of County Commissioners gave permission to use a portion of the Mickler’s Beach parking lot. At some point, our staff changed the agreement with the homeowners and the entire parking lot ended up being shut down. This signed contract was not the one the commissioners approved; we were very clear that we would only approve the contract if it didn’t impact residents and was for a limited period of time. We are looking into how this happened. We, the commissioners, are accountable to the voters and the staff is accountable to us.

Q: So what is happening now?

A: We’ve now spent two weeks trying to undo this and it’s still not resolved [as of interview date of Nov. 14.] This is very disappointing to me. The beach cannot be inaccessible to a majority of our residents. We plan to discuss this internally — how and why it happened and how to insure that it doesn’t happen again.  (Editor’s Note: The Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously on Nov. 19 to end County Administrator Michael Wanchik’s contract due to “lack of confidence.”)

Q: Can you shed some light on how the commission is handling the $15 million budget surplus?

A: Our budget was approved with a surplus this year. We have allocated the money into four basic categories: beach renourishment ($3 million will be set aside in the reserve category to assist in obtaining federal funding); a new library in World Golf Village; a new regional park in World Golf Village and an expansion of Davis Park; and additional recreational boat access to our waterways. 

Q: When will these projects be underway?
A: It’s very preliminary at this point, but with funding identified now we can start with the beginning engineering work. I think some projects should start in the next six months to a year.

Q: Do you have the dates set for your December office hours in Ponte Vedra Beach?

A: This month, I will be at the Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library on Friday, Dec. 20 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Citizens need to make an appointment by calling my office at (904) 209-0304 so I can be best prepared to respond to their questions.

Q: What is the best way for our readers to contact you?

A: Readers can email me at bcc4jblocker@sjcfl.us or call me at (904) 679-2620.