Hatching Controversy At its Thursday, Jan. 9 meeting, the Pensacola City Council will discuss the proposed fish hatchery for downtown’s Bruce Beach for the first, but likely not the last time in 2014. Councilmember Sherri Myers (District 2) is proposing that the city’s Environmental Advisory Board (EAB) take a look at the hatchery plan, which is meeting with an increasing amount of opposition from locals concerned with the environmental feasibility of such a project.
The so-named Florida Gulf Coast Marine Fisheries Hatchery was one of multiple projects selected in 2011 to receive funding from monies BP paid—approximately $1 billion to date—as part of the Deepwater Horizon disaster’s National Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process. The objective of the NRDA process is to study the effects of the spill and fund projects that would restore natural resources and lost recreational use of those resources, with the fine money paying the tab.
As its name implies, the purpose of the hatchery, to be overseen by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), would be to raise and release saltwater game fish with the intent of bolstering the highly popular Gulf sports fishing industry.
Mayor Ashton Hayward called a special meeting of the City Council in June 2011 during which the council approved his request to negotiate a 50-year lease for waterfront property immediately west of the Community Maritime Park, for $1 annually. FWC and partners including (as of 2011) Hubbs Seaworld Research Institute and Mote Marine Laboratory would operate the hatchery, which would also have an educational component and provide approximately 12 to 15 permanent jobs.
The EAB did not meet for the majority of 2011 and never had a chance to review or comment on the project. At the council’s Jan. 6 Agenda Conference, Myers stated that the board should have an opportunity to review the proposed hatchery project, particularly in light of the concerns and questions raised by members of the public.
More than just a question of location, many local environmentalists have expressed concern that the science behind hatcheries isn’t sound. Improving overall habitat, they contend—including water quality and seagrass beds—should be the focus of improving fisheries, by restoring healthy, natural spawning grounds and living conditions for marine life.
Whether the EAB will weigh in is up to the council, but the public is able to send comments directly to the NRDA Trustees, who will ultimately approve projects for allotted funds. The trustees have released a draft plan, titled “Draft Programmatic and Phase III Early Restoration Plan and Draft Early Restoration Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement,” that is available for review online at gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov.
On Tuesday, Jan. 28, the public will be able to comment at a meeting at the Pensacola Bay Center on the NRDA draft plan, which includes the hatchery. In addition, the public can submit comments online, also at gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov, or by mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 49567, Atlanta, GA 30345. The current phase of the NRDA public comment period closes on Feb. 4.
**As of Jan. 9, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Trustees have extended the public review and comment period, moving the end date from Tuesday, Feb. 4 to Wednesday, Feb. 18.**
Apartments Coming Downtown On the last of day 2013, Quint and Rishy Studer purchased the downtown headquarters of the Pensacola News Journal and its surrounding parking lots for $3.4 million from Gannett Company Inc.
On Friday, Jan. 3, Quint Studer gave preview into how he and his wife plan to develop the 5.85 acres between Jefferson and Tarragona streets. Studer talked about their expectations for the property at the “Brain Food with Quint Studer” luncheon held at SoGourmet Pensacola, located above Bodacious Olive.
He said that the Pensacola News Journal will lease the main building another six months while they search for office space. It will lease the warehouse for 90 days.
“About $840,000 worth of environmental cleanup needs to be done around the warehouse because that is where the printing operations were located,” said Studer. “So the warehouse will come down first.”
The current plans, which he admitted may change based on market conditions, are to build 350 apartments on the site. “Approximately 60 units will be studio apartments, 30 three-bedroom units and the rest will be one- and two-bedroom apartments,” he said.
Studer expects the monthly rents to range from $850 to $1,700.
He also said they plan to donate the parking lot behind Seville Quarter to the YMCA. Studer expects that organization to announce in the coming weeks that they will be building their new downtown YMCA there.
Tough or Hip? Chances are by now you’ve come across an article on PolicyMic (policymic.com), being shared on Facebook, touting our very own Pensacola on yet another obscure list. If it wasn’t the uplifting headline, “If You Can’t Stand Hipsters, These 11 Cities Are for You,” that caught your eye, it was probably the fact that Pensacola was ranked number one on the list of “toughest” cities in America. Say, what? What on earth was this based on you might ask?
Well, it’s based on what the author selected to use as narrow data, including 1) the number of 1st round NFL draft picks, boxing champs, and Medal of Honor and Distinguished Service Medal recipients hailing from a given city over the last 25 years compared with its average population over that time, 2) 2012 violent crime rates, and 3) the percentage of 2012 workers employed in protective service, farming, fishing, and forestry, and construction and extraction occupation categories as defined by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Each city was given a score based on its standard deviation from mean values for each of the three categories, and Pensacola “won.”
In short, basically, the author wrote an article about 11 cities he’s seemingly never been to and blasted them on the Internet calling them “tough.” While some have blindly shared the article with their fists pumping high, “Yeah, look at us! We’re tougher than Detroit,” others simply eye roll. Some have even crafted their own responses.
Our friends at WUWF wrote this piece, titled “Pensacola is For Hipsters” paying homage to some of the less tough, more cultured aspects of our city. Check it out by visiting: wuwf.org/post/pensacola-hipsters.