ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — According to www.firstcoastnews.com, it took years of effort for locals to save St. Augustine’s Fish Island from development, and now they say that a planned carwash on the adjacent property threatens the whole purpose.
Gate Petroleum plans to build a carwash near the intersection of State Rd. 312 and Plantation Island Dr. S, the article continued.
“Who builds a carwash next to hallowed conservation land?” Janet Patten, a member of a group called Friends of Fish Island, asked rhetorically.
She and Lisa McGlynn, another member of the group, cited environmental concerns, such as noise and potential wastewater, the article noted.
“Why do we want to have a carwash dumping dirty carwash water into this beautiful Matanzas River?” McGlynn asked.
History says that 18th-century merchant Jesse Fish, after whom the island is named, planted the first orange groves in Florida, and so, after many years, the North Florida Land Trust helped negotiate a deal for the state to purchase Fish Island for $6.5 million to spare the 57-acre property from development, the article continued.
However, the adjoining property purchased by Gate subsidiary BFC Holdings in July is, in fact, eligible for commercial use, the article added.
Patten and McGlynn suggested that Gate Petroleum might not have realized the ecological implications when it began planning the carwash, the article noted.
“There’s certainly land available just to the east of here that would make a lot of sense to put a carwash on that’s farther away from Fish Island,” McGlynn asserted.
McGlynn and Patten are also concerned that the development will drive away animals from the area, the article added.
Gate Petroleum hopes to break ground by the end of this year, and knowing that the company may not have any other major hurdles to overcome, a group of those opposed to the carwash sent a written appeal to the company, asking it to reconsider, the article stated.
“I think Gate can stop this from happening,” McGlynn said, suggesting that the company could “take this land and donate it for a nature center or a visitor center so that people who come here to Fish Island will be able to understand the historic nature of it.”
Patten added, “Gate has not submitted all their final plans yet, and so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
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