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.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Disagreement DOES NOT Equal an "ATTACK"

Residents I have heard from locally (I live right across the street from OLF 8 in Beulah) do NOT want more high-impact, high-density residential built in Beulah on the helicopter field until the infrastructure catches up.  I agree with these constituents, but the PNJ thinks this constitutes an "attack" on those who feel differently....

Sadly, the PNJ will be running a hatchet piece editorial tomorrow that inaccurately portrays the facts surrounding the OLF 8 project.  Disappointing.  

The theme of it is that I am attacking folks that I disagree with.  This is simply not true.

I attacked nobody in my disagreement and concerns over what is being planned for OLF 8. I have expressed the concerns I have heard from residents and constituents that do not want any more high-density residential development out here until our infrastructure catches up. I can and will correct folks who inaccurately distort my position on this issue--that is not attacking someone. 

Here are the facts: We have a $30 Million dollar triumph request for which we will qualify if we create a minimum of 1000 good wage-paying jobs with this property. I made the motion to sell 100 acres to NFCU for a market price plus the commitment of 300 jobs--so we only need to create a minimum of 700 more to stay in the running for that money! I made the motion to sell this 100 acres to get us closer to our jobs goal.

 Triumph, to date, has not funded any residential projects--so I have stated that I do not feel residential development is appropriate at the site--for this reason and because 1200 apartments, condos, and homes are currently under construction within walking distance from NFCU's campus already. Again--we can't take any more of this high-density residential development until our infrastructure catches up...
Beulah has too much residential construction ongoing, and residents with whom I have spoken have begged me to not approve any more residential construction until our infrastructure catches up.   Because I agree with my neighbors---- this is now considered an attack on those that want more high-density residential?  What?!?

so why do we, the public sector, need to compete with the private sector by facilitating the building of more high density residential on our soon to be acquired, taxpayer paid property? 

Another big concern that I have heard in listening to my constituents is this: while there are really nifty mixed used developments and town center concepts that are put out as examples of what could be built out on OLF 8--many believe these sorts of developments belong in urban areas, not rural, bucolic areas like Beulah. Many, like me, find the CIVICON speakers to be very informative, enlightening, and educational. But not all of those concepts are applicable to a rural, suburban community that is desperately trying to retain the rural charm and character despite the growth that is occurring. 

To agree with my constituents that feel this way and to disagree with others that want to build a "mini-city" in Beulah's OLF 8 field to make this area a slick "city" like in Tampa, Atlanta, or Pittsburgh--that is an attack? I disagree. 

Here is the key: The county expended $17.3 million dollars for OLF 8 for the purpose of creating jobs--not for creating a "town of Beulah" or for acquiring land for residential developers. The jobs-generating project for OLF 8 was conceived, voted upon, and financial commitments were made long before I came on this board--I inherited this. Like I supported ST Aerospace at the airport (for jobs) I do continue to support growing of clean jobs out here as well. 

But I also made the motion to engage a professional planner to give us a plan that takes all of these factors into account, keeps us in the running for the $30 Million dollar grant, brings some amenities to the residents out here that we desperately need, and brings us a plan that citizens county wide can benefit from to include nearby residents like me (I live across the street). 

Far from attacking anyone, this is me doing my job and siding with constituents over special interests that want to build a "mini city" out here, with condos, townhomes, and low rent subsidized housing to boot.  

I am not hearing many of my constituents telling me this is their vision for this property--I'm hearing "No More Residential until the infrastructure catches up!"

Friday, September 21, 2018

Come Join us for Our Next Coffee with a Commissioner!

We will be having our next coffee with the commissioner event this coming Wednesday morning at 6:30 AM at the McDonald's Restaurant at Blue Angel Parkway at Hwy 98.

Come by, say hello, and lets talk about what is important to you and your neighbors!




--making our community better

All topics are fair game, all are welcome--- and we hope to see YOU!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

NW District 1 Advisory Committee will Launch Next Thursday

I am looking forward to the launch of our Northwest District 1 Advisory Committee next Thursday at 6:00 PM.

We were supposed to start up and organize this committee earlier this month, on the 10th, however TS Gordon forced us to reschedule our 1st Budget Hearing for that time so our meeting got postponed.

But we will start it this Thursday.  The public is welcome to attend, and I look forward to going to work on several pressing issues in this area.  See the agenda below

3 New Plans will be Discussed to #OpenOurBeach

Last month we decided we would wait until after the primary election to pick up the discussion about opening up our 300' of  Gulf-Front property in Perdido Key for public access.

We were supposed to discuss a "Chevy and Cadillac" option for opening the beach this month.

But staff ran into delays and there were some unexpected issues that came up--namely a requirement that a full-sized fire truck be able to turn completely around within the footprint of the parking area due to the distance from the main road.

So this threw the original designs out the window.

But the BCC will be discussing three new potential options for opening this property up at October's Committee of the Whole.

Two of these three options were developed by staff, and the third one was submitted by a citizen.  Each have certain pluses and minuses.  I like all three but the price tag and number of spaces provided via Option 2 make it my initial favorite choice.  We will see what the full board thinks.  See all three options below

On WCOA today discussing NFCU, Beulah, Jobs, and OLF 8

I appeared this morning on Good Morning Pensacola with Don Parker and Alex Gavin.

The topic was the recent offer from NFCU to create 300 jobs with a hundred acres from OLF 8 if the county will sell it to them at a fair market rate

additional topics of interest in the brief interview included:

   ----current planned developments withing walking distance (100 yards) of the NFCU campus that will have 1100 apartments, townhomes, condos, and mixed use retail

  ----the walkability aspect of these developments due to their proximity to the NFCU campus and the addition of the recently constructed walking/biking sidewalk along 9-Mile road

  ----the value this deal brings us in getting us closer to our minimum of 1000 jobs created with
OLF 8 in order to keep us in the running for our $30 Million Dollar Triumph Grant

Listen to the brief interview here

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

OLF 8 To Produce 300 New Jobs! (And we Don't Even Own It Yet!)

The much-discussed OLF 8 Property in Beulah is poised to create its first new jobs if the BCC follows through with a proposed sale of 100 Acres of this property to Navy Federal Credit Union.

After last week's committee of the whole meeting, where the board voted to sell Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) 100 acres of OLF 8 in Beulah in exchange for new job creation, parking, and recreation facilities-- there was a buzz forming about just how many more jobs this sale could produce.....

Today, commissioners received the below email from Executive Vice- President Debbie Calder detailing NFCU's commitment.

These 300 new jobs will help us meet the BCC's triumph application goal of a minimum of an additional 1000 new, good paying jobs with this property in order to realize grant revenue of as much as $30 Million Dollars to develop this property.

Today was a great first step in that direction!

From the letter:

"I am happy to advise that, if we are able to agree upon mutually acceptable terms and Escambia County conveys approximately 100 acres of the OLF 8 property adjacent to our Heritage Oaks campus to Navy Federal, Navy Federal is willing to create 300 additional jobs on our existing campus..Navy Federal plans to create more parking for our campus, which will enable us to accommodate those additional jobs. Navy Federal also plans to build a recreation area on a portion of the property. Subject to any reasonable conditions that we may require, the recreation area we are proposing could be available for public use when not in use by Navy Federal. The public use of the recreation area would be part of our on-going contribution to the community."

See the letter below:

Monday, September 17, 2018

Beach Renourishment at Pensacola Beach.....Of Course it is Going to Continue!

In this evening's article in the PNJ-the issue of beach renourishment is hung out as something that is potentially on the BCC's chopping block.  This is not true.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

This is fear-mongering that is unneccessary and unproductive.

First of all, there is no movement afoot to make all leases 100 year leases.  There is a movement afoot to standardize the lease renewal language as these properties come forward to be renewed, as I discussed at multiple meetings and here.

The initiative goes like this:  When a property is brought in for a lease renewal to the SRIA we propose that the tenant decide what type of lease they want going forward, one with renewals that are automatic in perpetuity---or---leases that are 99 years in length and that require renegotiation upon expiration. 

The perpetual leases are taxable, so if that option is selected upon renewal by the lessee, the property would be subject to ad valorem taxation on both the land and the improvements. 

Conversely, if the lessee selected a lease that requires renegotiation upon expiration--the land portion of that leasehold would not be subject to ad valorem taxation going forward (But the land portion would be subject to a lease fee, which we would set at a market rate and index for inflation in the document)

One or the other--it would be at the option of the lessee.

This is to avoid another catastrophically bad renewal of a high value beach property's lease for a price that takes the taxpayers of Escambia county to the cleaners.  We had one of those recently (Beach Club) which has spurred this entire initiative in order to prevent such a poor treatment of taxpayers going forward.

Meanwhile, the SRIA is not going anywhere, and even if they did, that renourishment function would just be funded with a different pot of money.  Just like Beach Public Works and Lifeguards are funded with a different funding source now that the BCC has taken those functions over. 

This is because we value the beach, we understand the value of the beach, and we will fund important aspects of the Beach whether it comes from our authority (SRIA) or the BCC itself.

And to say otherwise is reckless speculation.