It’s been a fairly quiet summer here at the continent’s edge, at least until recently when the political stuff has heated up. Normally by this time of the year, we’ve had a tropical storm or two, there might have been some kind of drama about a condo or retail store that no one seems to like, or some development somewhere. The pier fishermen and surfers seem to be at least coexisting, there have been a couple of incidents down in the parking lots in Jacksonville Beach … but for the most part, life out east of the Intercoastal has been positively … beachy, which is fine.
I was talking with the mayor of Neptune Beach on Saturday, at the home of the former Mayor of Neptune beach, discussing the dilemma of a looming property tax increase in the midst of a crushing recession. I suppose we’ll find the money, but we’ll have to do without something else to pay for it. But unlike downtown, where there are apparently plenty of cuts to be made, in a municipality as small as Neptune Beach, it’s apparently more difficult to find enough to cut to make the budget balance. I’ve not been to the budget meetings, so I don’t know yet what cuts have been made. It is a fairly safe bet to say that almost no politician at a level this close to the actual constituency looks at a tax increase as the first choice.
Of course, the untimely death of Senator Jim King threw the political season into high gear. With Councilman Art Graham seeking the state senate seat, which is governed by Florida’s “resign to run” law, his 13th District council seat is open. Atlantic Beach Mayor John Meserve is running for the 13th district council seat, which is governed by Florida’s “resign to run” law, which means he’s leaving the Atlantic Beach Mayor’s office. He had already filed to run for that one, which is a two-year post, but that race is wide open at this point.
But honestly, if it weren’t for the campaigns, there’d be very little to talk about here at the beach this summer. It’s been raining a lot, which is a change, but not from tropical systems, which is also a change. Mostly, it’s been hot, with afternoon thunderstorms. Pretty much like the rest of the country. There’s something calming about the quiet life at the beach. It has been a particularly difficult year, but being able to be here has made those difficulties easier to cope with.
When I first moved here, people who lived at the beach told me that there a palpable feeling that comes when you go across the Intercoastal bridge. An “Ahhhhhh” that sometimes escapes audibly as you cross the ditch. I didn’t believe it, until I caught myself doing it. Would that every summer at the beach would be a quiet as this one has been. In better times … it might border on being perfect.