Mayor John Morrissey believes a ferry linking St. Marys and Fernandina Beach is a good idea. He just doesn’t want that ferry to stop at Cumberland Island.
Morrissey met with representatives from the Friends of the Amelia Island Trail last week to discuss their proposal to link the cities via Cumberland Island National Seashore. One of those representatives, Phillip Scanlan, would like to see the National Park Service add a second ferry terminal in Fernandina Beach to serve the island.
The Amelia Island Trail is part of the East Coast Greenway, a proposed 2,900-mile bike trail that runs the length of the East Coast. One of the many breaks in the trail is at the St. Marys River, but Scanlan says that could be easily bridged if cyclists could visit both cities with Cumberland Island as a stopover between them.
“We agree to disagree about adding the second ferry,” Scanlan said of his meeting with Morrissey.
Morrissey has acknowledged that the East Coast Greenway holds marketing potential for both cities and could be “an important engine for tourism.” He has also made it clear that he intends to protect the city’s exclusive arrangement with the Park Service for the downtown St. Marys ferry terminal. For that reason, Morrissey is all in favor of a direct ferry between the cities with no stops at Cumberland Island.
These discussions come as the concessionaire contract for ferry service nears its expiration date of Aug. 16. Calvin Lang holds the contract and plans to submit a bid to keep it.