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.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Value of a Fair Compromise

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.


Anonymous said...

It's a bit funny to me, on one hand, to watch the meeting with a good deal of back ground information of project, them read about five different public accounts of what transpired with a little spin one way or another.

I'll throw in **My2cents**

I think the wisdom of Steven Barry was apparent when he made it clear and suggested that any or all other actions would come before the board for a vote and that a legal public private partnership would be in the works. I think that had a lot to do with the willingness to proceed and make this 5-0 vote.

Funny, hardly none of the other public comments mentioned that including the PNJ, as often is the case. Barry deserves far more credit but he doesn't often toot his own horn.

The importance of working on hiring a new Administrator will be tantamount going forward, which he also made clear.

Trust that leadership. Note hardly ever any drama with this one. I for one have decided when he takes his time to speak, I think we should all sit up, perk up, and take notice.

I also still think it sounded like Underhill was just talking to hear himself talk and try to impress although it was not quite to the level of bloviation as normally witnessed. It didn't sound like they really changed anything at all with that back and forth.

It's real estate...Let the games continue.

Thank you for keeping the Triumph and RESTORE and original intent of the SWAP to the forefront.

I still see a comment on your Facebook page "that the people of Beulah should just vote".. Not worth the time of day to explain representative government and political maneuvering there.

I admire your spunk and willingness to tackle the issues and take on the opposition and not be pushed around.



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Anonymous said...

I think that during these discussions that ECAT should be brought to the table and that public transportation should be highly encouraged in D1. Perhaps NFCU could give incentives for employees that utilize the service, like a few hours of free time per month if they purchase and use a bus pass. It was a large part of a county wide congestion management plan about 2012 0r 2013 to encourage more use of public transportation. What happened? I think we know what happened. Bring it back to the forefront and encourage use. It helps solve the traffic problem and once people start using it, they may be pleasantly surprised that it frees up their time from looking for a parking space and stuck in traffic. They may enjoy the camaraderie. Expand covered bus stops and routes. Work together. Perhaps the buses could have a special traffic management plan, complete with ECSO involved certain times of the day. Work smart not hard. It obviously takes a long time to get roads built. Go to Plan B and C.

I am also happy to find this web page.

Seems some wanted to make it look bad. It doesn't.