County considers private security at beach accesses

  • The county could soon have 24/7/365 private security guards stationed in a kiosk at Peters Point Beach Park. FILE
    The county could soon have 24/7/365 private security guards stationed in a kiosk at Peters Point Beach Park. FILE

The Nassau County Board of County Commissioners held their Monday meeting via videoconferencing software. While other commissioners used cameras and computers, Chairman Danny Leeper sat in the board’s chambers in Yulee along with County Manager and Attorney Mike Mullin and a few other county officials.

Expansion items on the agenda included approving the scores tallied by an evaluation committee for a Request for Proposals for 24-hour beach access point security services “and grounds/beach patrol.” The county’s request calls for private security “beach points” at Peters Point Beach Park, Scott Road, and American Beach at Lewis and Gregg streets. New kiosks are to be “manned 24 hours a day utilizing one security guard per shift, per access point. In addition, two security roving security guards will be required to patrol parking areas and beach parks.” The guards will be unarmed, keep logs, register on-beach campers, and “operate out of (a) security style kiosk approximately 4’x6’. (Two) roaming security guards will utilize an ATV or utility vehicle that is supplied through Nassau County.”

The RFP received three responses, none from a Nassau County business. Giddens Security Corporation at $941,700 was ranked first, but Commissioner Pat Edwards noted a quote of $164,000 in his packet was way off the other two: “The other two were $941-plus and $859-plus (G4S Security Solutions). They all have the same paperwork?” Management and Budget Director Megan Diehl answered that Synergy Security’s calculation was incorrect and should have been “north of $600,000.”

“They used an incorrect factor on that, and you should have gotten the corrected one,” Diehl said. “So, I will speak with contracts management about that. But yes, they all bid on the exact same paperwork.”

The county was authorized by the board to start contract negotiations with the highest-ranking respondent.

Resident Lowell Hall, who attended the meeting in person, rose to ask why on-beach parking at Scott Road is still prohibited. Mullin said there will be an item on an upcoming agenda to discuss it, but the county had concerns about spreading resources too thin during the state of emergency between the parking there and at Peters Point and Lewis Street at American Beach, because Scott Road “can only hold about eight cars on that beach area,” according to Mullin. Hall thanked the commissioners, adding that “those are probably the hottest seats you’ve sat in in a lifetime, and hopefully it is a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic experience. Good luck and God bless.”

Another expansion item was for extending a contract until June 2021 for additional work on Crawford Road from Old Alabama Trail to State Road 200/US 301. The Florida Department of Transportation will pay $437,000 to accomplish it.

County Engineer Robert Companion said the county has been doing work on Crawford Road for about six years. Companion noted personnel changes at the county, FDOT, and St. Johns River Water Management District had delayed the process and resulted in more questions but had also resulted in a better project, including allowing the speed limit to be raised from 40 to 50 mph and reducing impacts to wetlands along the roadway. Both expansion items were passed unanimously.

Consent agenda items unanimously approved included authorization for a letter to the FDOT regarding reconstruction of Dyal Road, reducing the speed limit on South 14thStreet to 35 mph between Nectarine and Lime streets, and approving previous board meeting minutes.

A discussion of a list of which county roads to double chip seal was postponed.

The board also approved without discussion a $123,301 bid to Jax Utilities Management Inc. for the Blackmon Road Storm Drain Replacement Project and a $174,225 bid to CGC Contracting for the Miner Road Turn Lane Project.

Companion spoke about an offer from the Friends of Amelia Island Trail to purchase and install new amenities to the Bailey Road-Simmons Road trail in the section the county owns, including three or four benches along the trail, a bike repair station in front of the Ybor Alvarez playing fields, two bike racks, and a covered table in a landscaped area near First Avenue. The board unanimously approved the offer, with Leeper noting the popularity of the trail.

The commissioners also approved Leeper signing a Public School Concurrency Proportionate Share Mitigation Agreement for the Miner Pines subdivision being developed by WR Howell Company. The Nassau County School District must also sign the agreement.

A public hearing to consider amending the county’s Animal Control ordinance regarding animal care and cruelty was continued to June 22.

Katrina Robinson-Wheeler, a mental health first aid instructor with Starting Point Behavioral Healthcare, was on hand to accept a proclamation from the board that May is Mental Health First Aid Month in Nassau County.

Leeper started the meeting by having Mullin read instructions for the public to participate in the video meetings via email or a phone call. Members of the public who watch the proceedings at home via the internet are asked to email messages to, with their name and address and the message. Those watching were also told they can call (904) 530-6009 with their name, address, and message and it will be brought in during the meeting.