I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Constituent Email Pushes Government to Fix a Safety Issue.....Quickly

Within one month of receiving a complaint about this roadway entrance and how some drivers were not following the signs and making illegal left turns creating a safety hazard---within one month the state has now fixed the issue!

I received a constituent email last month about an annoying and potentially unsafe issue at a roadway entrance to Wal Mart on Mobile Highway..... from the email:

"I want to bring to your attention something that is becoming increasingly dangerous in our neighborhood. The Walmart market across from the fairgrounds has been a blessing for us. However, there are those who choose to violate traffic laws and are making it dangerous to even be in the parking lot.
Allow me to explain:
There are 3 entrances to Walmart from Mobile highway.  The one in the middle is a right turn only to enter and exit meaning those that are coming from Beulah and turning Left into the market must either use the 1st or the 3rd entrance. The 2nd entrance only permits someone to turn Right into the lot &that is only if they are coming from the East.
 I've noticed more and more frequently that people utilizing that 2nd entrance to turn left. It happens at least once a week where I am almost hit by somebody turning illegally here. Last week some idiot came in through the exit turn lane (@ 30 miles an hour) and literally almost T boned me! It was very scary because my son was in the car with me and would have been directly hit by this man. I've spoken with the manager at Walmart and he suggested I contact you. They have had many complaints about people turning illegally there. My proposal would be to put up those yellow Poles in the center line to prevent people from turning left there. I've seen them utilized with success on Pine Forest Rd at the interstate entrance.

What do you think?" 

After I received this email, I sent it to the roads department.  They, in turn, sent it to the state roads department, FDOT.  Fast forward a month--and SHAZAM!!--I get this email from staff, below:

"Thanks to excellent coordination between the County, FDOT, and FDOT’s contractor, the flexible delineators were installed in just over a month from the time of the request.  The photo, looking southeast, below was from yesterday evening.  Please let me know if you need anything else.
 My personal thanks to all involved to make this happen for our concerned residents.  We make a great team."

Who says government always moves at a snail's pace?!?

Coffee With a Commissioner- 5-23-2018

We held our monthly Coffee With the Commissioner event yesterday morning at McDonald's on Highway 98  and Blue Angel Parkway.

Issues discussed included wage disparities between and among mechanics that work for Escambia County as compared to the Bus Mechanics that work for ECAT.  This is a very real problem and an overnight fix will be impossible, but I am looking at what needs to be done with this.  It is a legitimate beef from our mechanics that make less than $15 per hour as they watch ECAT mechanics that just arrived as de-facto county employees making $22 per hour.

Coffee with a commissioner event 5-23-2018

Another topic discussed was creating more synergies between the communities of the west side of Escambia County and Perdido Key, along with business development in this same geographic area.
Coffee with a commissioner event 5-23-2018

"The important things from my perspective are community safety, economic development, jobs and infrastructure" stated one attendee who is affiliated with the Perdido Chamber of commerce.

We also discussed the following topics:

--Bay Center Replacement
--Sheriff's Budget settlement
--upcoming budget for FY 2019
--Alcohol Ban being overturned

We look forward to next month's coffee--everyone is welcome!

Three-Page Response to my Blog Post...

I received a request to post the below response to my blog post on the roundabouts meeting.  The response was too long to be submitted as a comment utilizing the comment feature, so I'm posting it here in its entirety....

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Kicking the Can on the Pensacola Civic Center.....

How long will the county kick the can on the Pensacola Civic Center Issue?

Six years ago, there was a push among some Escambia County Commissioners and some members of the community to undertake a renovation project at the Pensacola Civic Center.  This multi-million dollar project would have extended the useful lifespan of that facility by a couple of decades.  SMG was consulted, they worked together with the BCC, a scope of work was identified, but no vote ever happened.  The proverbial can got kicked down the road...

Fast forward to last year, and an innovative triumph fund application was made, with the support of multiple local non-profits and representatives from the destination marketing organization (DMO)--and this resulted in a plan to finance the construction of a brand-new arena and field house project that would act as a replacement for the Pensacola Civic Center-a project that could potentially be financed, built, and operated for 30 years while utilizing no general fund dollars and no local option sales tax dollars.  The BCC sent this proposal to triumph, we got behind this project, because this would be a great project if it could be done.

Fast forward to last week and now as the Triumph selections process moves forward--once again the board was asked --yet failed-- to make a critical decision.

The decision was simple:

-sign a very scaled-down and County-friendly Letter of Intent (that offered the county multiple ways out of the deal if the County was not completely satisfied with the final chosen location, the financing, or any other reason for that matter) with the group who brought the proposal--and for this act of good will this group would continue the work to bring a viable location for this plan.  But the board had no appetite to act.  "We need to know the exact location first"  was stated at the meeting.  And no vote happened.  The can got kicked down the road again.

Most everyone now knows that a downtown location will not work--as such a location will not be eligible for New Market Tax Credits (NMTCs) that will add as much as $20 Million into the $80 Million dollar project. 

So if the project location is downtown, I don't believe it is feasible without the 5th cent being levied.

....And several commissioners have stated their staunch opposition to the levy of the 5th cent on the hotel tax  "no matter what."

So as I see it, only one of three things will happen going forward.  And I believe one of these three will move forward as "the plan" over the next several months--because I'm going to press this issue:

1.  A location not in downtown but in an economically challenged area (qualifying for NMTCs) will

Anger Over the Traffic Roundabouts Meeting

I received the below letter from a citizen that was not happy about the roundabouts and the way the meeting where the roundabouts were discussed was conducted......

OLF X Construction is Moving Forward

Construction of OLF X in Santa Rosa County Florida, May 2018

Construction of OLF X in Santa Rosa County Florida, May 2018
As was announced at our last Committee of the Whole meeting several weeks back, the project to swap property in Santa Rosa County (OLF X) with property in Escambia County (OLF 8) with the U.S. Navy is rapidly moving forward.  It has been a long time coming....

I'm told the Navy is moving ahead with initial scheduling of the ceremonial hand off, scheduled to occur later this year.  The BCC anticipates a late December, early January timeframe for the BCC acquisition of OLF 8 in Beulah to be completed. 

We are getting to the finish line of the first part of this project.  Part II will be the development of the property in Beulah--more on that part later.

Construction of OLF X in Santa Rosa County Florida, May 2018
But before we get to do that, we have to finish the construction of the new OLF X in Santa Rosa County for the U.S. Navy.  And work toward that goal is continuing.