Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday September 16th 2014

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The Buzz 1/2/14

Dollar Bills at the Bay Center The saying about there being “no such thing as a free lunch” is ringing in the ears of those accustomed to fee-free parking near the Pensacola Bay Center (formerly the Civic Center). Starting Jan. 11, the parking lots of the Bay Center will charge a $5 parking fee per vehicle for select events.  The Bay Center anticipates that the newly enacted fee will increase their revenue, thereby decreasing the amount of the funding the center receives from the county’s Tourism Development Tax, a tax on short-term rental income including hotels, RV parks, apartments, and other specified accommodations that are rented for less than six months.

Right now, World Championship Ice Racing, Jeff Dunham, Barry Manilow, Harlem Globetrotters, Monster Jam, Cirque du Soleil, and Third Day and Skillet are the first events at which the parking fees will apply. Ice Flyers games are not part of the pay to park events at the present time. To check whether you’ll need cash to park for a certain event in the future, visit pensacolabaycenter.com, navigate to the individual event page and look under the “Tickets” information box on the right.

RESTORE Escambia Presents On Monday, Jan. 6 RESTORE Escambia will present the county’s RESTORE Act Advisory Committee with a document it has produced titled, “Proposal for Selection of RESTORE Act Projects in Escambia County, Florida.” RESTORE Escambia, self-described as “A Citizen’s Coalition for Sustainability,” comprises individuals and community groups who have developed their proposal in order to assist the advisory committee in evaluating projects in accordance with the RESTORE Act.

The RESTORE Act will administer funds that BP will eventually pay for violations of the Clean Water Act associated with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. The act allots monies to affected states to fund ecological restoration, economic development, and tourism development. Current estimates have Escambia County receiving as much as $200 million, depending on BP’s final fine amount, which is currently in process of being determined in federal court in New Orleans.

The committee, which began meeting in early 2013, is tasked with recommending projects for RESTORE Act funding to the county commission, who will make the final decision once funds are available.

RESTORE Escambia hopes that their proposal will provide the local committee with helpful guidance. Representatives of the coalition have attended each of the county’s RESTORE Act Advisory Committee’s meetings and heard the wide range of presentations from community groups regarding how they’d like to see the funds appropriated. Speakers have represented groups associated with the environment, public health, workforce development, economic development, and tourism.

“We’re hoping it will set a precedent and allow our community to really make a difference,” stated Barbara Albrecht, one of the authors of the proposal. RESTORE Escambia began meeting in March 2013 and began working on the document in August. “We have an incredible opportunity ahead of us to really protect, restore, and basically get back the ecosystem that once put us on the map.”

The Escambia County RESTORE Act will meet monthly in 2014 in the Board of County Commission chambers, 221 N. Palafox. RESTORE Escambia will present at 4 p.m. on Jan. 6.