Back in 1980, a group of like-minded, concerned citizens formed the Saint Augustine Beach Civic Association. My knowledge and recollection of the city started back in 1999 when my wife found this beautiful place on a trip with her sister and late Mother. We eventually moved here, and I’ve been a volunteer with the Civic Association ever since. I can share and recall many of the events over the last two decades, but I needed help learning about the beginning of SABCA.
Enter former SABCA President Lynne Green and City Manager Max Royle. “The Civic Association was founded by a group of concerned citizens that understood growth was inevitable but wanted to maintain as much of the community’s charm as possible”, Green said. “SABCA was focused on keeping our beach from becoming the next Daytona.” During the Green years, Lynn and SABCA worked with a professor from UF to start the program we now know as Beach (Re)nourishment. The City Beautification Advisory Board also evolved from a SABCA committee. “The Civic Association actually started this and City Manager Royle thought it best make the group a more official and permanent part of the City”, Green said.
According to longtime City Manager Royle, the Civic Association started small in numbers but has been a large influence over the years. After its beginning as a watchdog organization, SABCA became the impetus for City traditions like Arbor Day, Meet the Candidate forums, the Wednesday Market, and the iconic Music by the Sea concerts Many of the early leaders of the Civic Association volunteered for positions in City Government. “Throughout its history, SABCA members have been part of Planning & Zoning, Beautification, and other City Boards”, said Royle. “A few SABCA members have also served on the City Commission including former Mayor Emmett Pacetti, Don Terrell, Michael Longstreet, Andrea Samuels, and Gary Snodgrass.”
SABCA has always been a friend and sometimes a financial supporter of the City. In addition to sponsoring City events like Beach Blast Off, Arbor Day, Veterans Day, Ron Parker Day and National Night Out, SABCA has contributed thousands of dollars to the City by purchasing signage and flags for the Boulevard pedestrian crosswalks, a new computer for City Hall, a searchlight utilized by Public Works and the Police Departments, and water safety equipment for all police vehicles. According to former SABCA President Robert Samuels, the money raised through the operation of the Wednesday Market allowed SABCA to some really nice things for the City residents and visitors. “It’s unfortunate the County decided to take our market and its profits for its budget back in late 2018”, Samuels said. “The move may have been good for the County budget, but it left many voids here in our City”.
As the current President, I get to write these articles each month. I must tell you this article may have been the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I got to hear stories about our beginning and the great things done if you will, back in the day. Based on every conversation I had, SABCA members were always civic-minded and go-getters. One of my most notable discoveries was the list of talented women that have been such a large part of our past. Lynn Green, Betty Norris, Pat Laurencelle, Mary McCarthy, Mary Hahle, Gladys Humphries, Hester Longstreet, and Andrea Samuels are just a few shared their talents to make our city a very special place.
So, its cheers to those who came before me! Thanks for 40 amazing and productive years for your St Augustine Beach Civic Association!