|Nobody gets everything they want in a compromise, but sometimes compromise is precisely what is needed to move a project forward...|
Yesterday's meeting of the Board of County Commissioners produced several significant-albeit nuanced-victories.
The most profound outcome came from our discussion and eventual compromise on OLF 8 (and our jobs project for that location).
This OLF 8 project was conceived, enacted, and funded--from day 1-- as an economic development project to create jobs for all Escambia County residents.
But as we came closer to the point where we would actually acquire this 636 acre Beulah property from the Navy--a growing number of folks wanted us to scrap the jobs aspect of the deal and instead develop the property solely as an amenity for local residents and/or as an "attraction" for visitors and residents of Beulah. These folks did not want any additional good, high-paying clean-tech, high-tech jobs to be produced with this land---in direct contrast to the original intent of the project.
That's why, when these folks took the staff's initial RFP draft, they removed mention of the triumph grant, regional economic significance, and other important verbiage.
Staff and I took their version, and I added back the language about adhering to the spirit of our Triumph Gulf Coast grant (which may pay us as much as $30 Million Dollars if we create a minimum of 1000 good-paying jobs on this property) and the regional significance language which is essential if we are to win this grant.
Although I do not support any additional residential units being constructed on this property for many good reasons, my chopped version of the RFP still maintained the language that "all options should be considered by the master planner in order to bring the highest and best value for the taxpayers with this land." This included reference to mixed use development and housing---even though I don't support this because I do not feel we need any more. But I was, and am, attempting a compromise.
So at the meeting, one speaker made some recommendations that were not profound and one of my counterparts made some suggested changes that did not dramatically alter the direction of this document-- and nobody suggested the removal of the reference to job creation on the site--so I agreed to the changes and the full board moved forward to a 5-0 compromise on an RFP document for the master planner that all parties could be happy with.
In a situation like this, with multiple persons and entities involved with various agendas and differing visions for this land---NOBODY is ever going to get everything they want. Never going to happen.
But it was profound, and significant, that we were able to reach a 5-0 on this contentious subject via this compromise.
Round 2 comes next as the BCC and staff evaluates a proposal from NFCU to pay for a Master Plan for this property. This next step will be complex, and it may take several months for staff and NFCU to bring something to the board for our action. But as I have said at several meetings---step one for this project is and always was creating an RFP all stakeholders could live with---one that maintained the focus on jobs and not loosing our $30 Million Dollar triumph grant ----regardless of who it is that will eventually pay for the plan to be produced.
And we completed step one yesterday via a compromise that was fair.