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.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

My Response to NFCU Offer for OLF 8

NFCU has offered to pay for a master plan for OLF 8 in Beulah if they can select the firm that conducts this work.

I was travelling when the news broke about NFCU's offer to pay for a Master Planner to plan OLF 8 and/or to purchase OLF 8 outright from the county.  Here is my response to that letter.


Thanks for the information and I apologize for my late response (I commenced a long trip of 22 hours flight time just 15 minutes before you sent this—didn’t see it until now). 

The offer you forward is very intriguing, and I certainly believe it will soon be discussed by the full board (at our next committee of the whole). 

The chief concern that I have is our $30 Million Dollar Triumph grant.  

It is not mentioned at all in the letter—however we will be in the running to recoup these funds from Triumph if we can secure a minimum of at least an additional 1,000 good jobs total with this property.  If we simply build-out low-wage retail and more housing, we lose that grant and opportunity.  If we are not going to pursue good-wage job creation with ANY of the OLF 636 acres, that would be a travesty and at that point the only objective should be to list the property on the open market for sale to the highest bidder—so that the maximum amount of our investment in OLF 8 could be recouped for the taxpayers county-wide. 

I hope that is not the scenario that comes to pass.

With a spirit of cooperation in mind,  I re-worked the RFP (attached) to find a compromise between what staff put out initially and what you all countered with. 

I believe the compromise document is very good, and contains the lion’s share of all the additional information that NFCU, via Theresa Blackwell, had added.  The caveat is that I added back the language about Triumph gulf coast and our grant with that body.  I think one idea that might help is if NFCU committed to also pursue that Triumph Gulf Coast money with whatever master plan concept is sought.  If that could be a part of the agreement and the conversation it would be an easier sell I believe.  

As you know Debbie, I live in Beulah and I care about what happens out here just as you do. I’ve lived out here a long time.  However the larger concern has to be that this project, from its inception, has been a county-wide  project that carries the potential to greatly benefit the entire county and the region if we pursue job creation.  And although I strongly support some amenities for the Beulah community to be added as well—this property was not purchased with money allocated solely by Beulah taxpayers.  It was purchased with dollars from every taxpayer in Escambia County.

So whatever happens should be for the benefit of the entire county—not just Beulah—and I truly believe that everyone can get something from this property if we do it right. 

In short, I believe we can have a great project out here that does it all;  creates amenities for the local citizens

 (restaurants, retail amenities, elementary school site, walking trail, regional park), sets aside some property for NFCU expansion, and sets aside some acreage for job creation that keeps us in the running for the triumph grant. 

I have been vocal in my position that more high-density residential is not needed on the OLF 8 site, due to the fact that our infrastructure is over taxed at present--- and more than 2,000 residential units are currently approved or already under construction within walking distance of the NFCU campus already. 

I believe any master planner selected, regardless of whomever it is that pays for the plan, will have to consider this existing area residential construction, juxtaposed with the original intent of the project via the triumph grant and restore act grant, when determining the overall highest and best use for this property going forward.

Anyhow, I look forward to further discussion on this topic upon my return next Monday and again at the COW on the 8th.


Jeff Bergosh
Escambia Board of County Commissioners
221 Palafox Place Suite 400
Pensacola, FL 32502
850-595-4910 office
850-377-2209 Voicemail


Anonymous said...

Thanks for keeping your eye on the business here as well. Hope for a fruitful business trip for you there. Things are about the same back home. Nov 8..COW..Something about that date seems interesting..

Anonymous said...

Heads up there is a PNJ article about time crunch on ST and Triumoh and of course Underhill is trying to politicize and act like..the ususal..Thanks for multitasking and God Speed.