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Myers wants District 2 to get its slice of the pie

New council member ready to address city’s problems
by Dustin Toney

Sherri Myers has big plans for uptown Pensacola, and she can’t wait to get started Jan. 11 after she is sworn into office.

“If I can’t be effective on city council, I may as well not be on it,” the recently-elected Pensacola councilwoman for District 2 told the IN. “My goal is to address the many problems that exist in District 2.”

Her ambitions include promoting residential and commercial beautification, getting money back into the district, reorganizing and creating bus routes to simplify transportation from uptown and downtown, creating a roundtable made of citizens and businesses, supporting incentives for annexation of county property into the city and attempting to acquire grant money in order to help people get onto the city sewer system.

“This district is the economic heart of the city of Pensacola, but the communities around the commercial area are older neighborhoods and many of them are in decline. I want to focus on the things most important to the people that live out here,” Myers continued. “Our property values are plummeting. We need to promote this area because people should be flocking to it. The housing is affordable and people can literally walk or ride the public transportation to get where they need.”

Myers wants to ensure that the district gets its slice of the pie, as well. “The thing that amazes me is how difficult it is to get the littlest thing corrected unless you live in affluent neighborhoods, and I am not going to tolerate that. Most of what is in the tree fund comes from the companies that performed clear-cutting in the commercial area in our district. I want that money for reforestation and to beautify our neighborhoods.”

She stated that the mindset around city hall is to use the tree fund to beautify downtown and upscale neighborhoods and that she will fight to get that changed. “Downtown and District 2 are very distinct communities,” Myers said. “They need to be developed in different ways, but they need to be tied together.”

Myers also wishes to help the businesses in the area expand and improve their properties. “Eighty percent of jobs are created by existing businesses, so we need to come up with an economic development plan that capitalizes on the businesses we have here and help them have resources to create more jobs. I would like to see a facade program to help small businesses improve how they look outside and upgrade their handicap accessibility,” she added.

A self-described avid environmentalist, Myers said she has repeated her wishes to attract environmentally-friendly companies to the area. “I have a real problem with AT&T utility poles because they leach No. 2 diesel fuel that has pentachlorophenol on it. I would like to see some changes on what the city allows on its streets. There are a number of companies that produce environmentally-friendly utility poles.”

In fact, Myers brings a small sample of a fiberglass telephone pole and wears it on a bracelet when she goes down to city council meetings “just to remind them of this issue.”

She also hopes to get the city to adopt a green janitorial supply program based on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s model program. “That means eliminating air fresheners in the building. It means eliminating fragrances, sprays and those types of products with harmful chemicals. Also, it means looking at the reduction of spraying pesticides, herbicides and fungicides on city property—the common grounds. We need an environmental director—a position we used to have.”

“The things I am proposing are not really going to break the bank. It could look like a really awesome task, especially when you are dealing with the BP oil spill, but we can start with the things in which we have control over, and using environmentally-friendly products is something we have control over,” Myers explained.

She also serves on the Escambia County Mass Transit Advisory Committee (MTAC). “We had representatives from NAS tell us that they wanted better bus service so that their young men and women, at least 6,000, many who do not have cars, would have a place to go. ECAT created an express bus route from NAS and Corry Station and it’s always jam-packed,” she said.

Myers has gained quite the reputation in the city from previously working with ECAT. “I am awed and inspired by her tireless advocacy for not just people with disabilities, but for all people. I think she will be an incredible contribution for the city of Pensacola serving as councilwoman,” said Jane Birdwell, an advertising director and co-owner of a local multimedia company who worked with Myers on transit issues within the MTAC.

Myers hopes to take on large issues during her term. Will she succeed? Time will tell. Myers, however, remains confident that she will. “I hope there are no obstacles, because I will not tolerate them.”

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