Pensacola, Florida
Wednesday November 22nd 2017

Archives

The Buzz 11/9/17

Andrade Running Attorney Alex Andrade has filed to run for the Florida House District 2 seat currently held by Frank White. He will run as a Republican. Democrat Ray Guillory filed in March to run for the seat. White announced last month he is running for Florida Attorney General.

Andrade earlier this year was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to the First Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission. Andrade is an attorney with Moore, Hill & Westmoreland. He was part of the 2016 Inweekly Rising Star class.

He was voted 2017 Best of the Coast Rising Star by the newspaper’s readers. In his questionnaire for the issue, Andrade said what inspired him to give back to the community.

“Pensacola is special,” he said. “I feel blessed to learn from talented and successful mentors in an environment that captures my imagination.”

Alex earned his J.D. from the University of Florida (UF) Levin College of Law, where he served as President of the Trial Team and Chief Justice of the UF Supreme Court. For his service to the University of Florida, Alex was inducted into the UF Hall of Fame.

Hatchery Bid The Florida Department of Environmental Protection last week posted its invitation for bids for the Florida Gulf Coast Marine Fisheries Hatchery and Enhancement Center on Bruce Beach.

Quint Studer’s Old Stinky LLC, which owns the block across from the waterfront property, and Bear Construction announced their intent to possibly protest the bid.

On “Pensacola Speaks,” Studer explained to Inweekly publisher Rick Outzen why he sent FDEP the letter of intent.

“You have to, within 72 hours of a bid, at least show intent that you might challenge the bid protest,” he said.  He will wait to see what the Pensacola City Council does at its Nov. 9 meeting and then decide if a formal protest is needed.

“If we didn’t file an intent to file a protest, we’d lose our spot to say anything,” said Studer.

The base bid calls for the contractor to provide all labor, materials, equipment, supervision and permitting to construct the Fish Hatchery and Enhancement Center building, utility connections, site work, sidewalks, landscaping, stormwater management facilities, decorative outdoor art and informational signage, saltwater intake, irrigation well and site irrigation system, milling and re-pavement of limited portion of Clubbs Street.

There is no environmental remediation. The pedestrian bridge that hatchery proponents have touted is an alternative. An alternative bid item is defined in the project documents: “separate optional bid item for more or less project requirements or alternate construction techniques or materials, which the Department may or may not accept as additional to the Base Bid, depending on available funding.”

The drawings do not show the public walkway being extended past a circle south of the hatchery building. The three access points to the Baywalk are the pedestrian bridge, the hatchery building and the parking lot. There is no access to the Bruce Beach or Pensacola Bay.

Assistant City Administrator Keith Wilkin stated on Facebook that the city has applied for an NRDA Enhancement Grant to expand the public walkways to an observation deck and build public parking and kayak launch at the end of Clubbs Street.

“We are very optimistic that grant proposal will be approved by the TIG (Trustee Implementation Group) in spring of 2018,” wrote Wilkins.

Beulah Beltway Update Concerned about how the proposed four-lane Beulah Beltway might affect their homes, citizens turned out for town hall meeting last week to view the proposed routes for the southern and northern sections of the more than $200-million project.

The 11-mile stretch would connect West Nine Mile Road to U.S. Highway 29 providing a new interchange at Interstate 10. It also would alleviate traffic to Navy Federal Credit Union and other industry planned in the area including at the 2,500-acre The Bluffs, Northwest Florida’s Industrial Campus. Planners said it would create a new route for semi-trucks carrying freight and would help evacuation during a major hurricane.

The southern part of the project from Nine Mile to Kingsfield Road would largely follow the current Beulah road and add just two-feet of roadway making it 104-feet wide total. It is scheduled for completion by 2023.

Citizens were most concerned with the estimated $188.3 million route that would create a brand new 225-foot corridor heading north from Kingsfield. Its three options would merge with U.S. 29 at W. Quintette Road, just north of Quintette and Barrineau Road. The northern corridor is currently unfunded but if approved would finish in 2029.

District 5 Escambia County Commissioner Steven Berry said he would settle for the northern section stopping at Muscogee. He pointed out the east-west corridor is undergoing more than $20 million in improvements and will be able to handle 18-wheelers and other big trucks.

“I don’t want to spend taxpayer money for a (northern) design,” he said. “How do we get traffic from Kingsfield to Muscogee? Muscogee connects safely to Highway 29.”

Meanwhile, District 1 Escambia County Commissioner Jeff Bergosh said the southern section is “imperative.” He said traffic is so bad that it takes Navy Federal Credit Union employees 15 minutes to get out of the parking lot. The company, which employs 5,000 and looks to double that number, is creating another entrance and exit at its main campus.

“We’re going to find a way to get the money because it’s important to Escambia County,” Bergosh said.

For more information, visit beulahbeltway.com.

Blount Delayed Six months after the Pensacola City Council approved the sale of the old Blount School property to local developer ParsCo LLC, the county property appraiser’s website shows the City of Pensacola still owns the property.

On Oct. 25 on NewsRadio 1620, Mayor Ashton Hayward counted the development of the city block that once was the site of the Blount Middle School as one of his accomplishments on the west side of Pensacola.

“West of city hall is just taking off,” said Hayward. “From the Blount School property being redeveloped now to the A Street and its beautification to Corinne Jones to the fish hatchery enhancement center…”

Inweekly asked Hayward’s public information officer, Vernon Stewart, about the sale and what was causing the delay. Stewart did not respond.

Kudos for Downtown The Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association has named Downtown Pensacola its 2017 winner of its Great Places in Florida People’s Choice Award. Downtown Pensacola was selected over four other finalists: Ancient Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach; Beachwalk, Clearwater; Downtown Winter Park; and Mizner Park, Downtown Boca Raton.

Downtown Pensacola was cited for being a walkable 44-block area with historic and archaeological sites, chic shops, eclectic art galleries and award-winning restaurants. The APA also mentioned the Downtown Improvement District’s Palafox Market, the privately-run Winterfest, Blue Wahoo Stadium, and the UWF-managed T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum, Pensacola Museum of Commerce and Pensacola Museum of Art.

Bayview Design Questioned People have begun to forward Inweekly their concerns regarding the $8.2 million Bayview Community Center that Mayor Ashton Hayward presented to the Pensacola City Council at its second budget hearing in late September.

Citizens say that they were promised that they would be allowed to see and discuss the final plans prior to a council vote. City Administrator Eric Olson did not deliver the master plan to the council until after 5 p.m. the day before the hearing. Few people in District 4 knew that the vote was on the agenda.

The buzz is Mayor Hayward intends to let a private rowing club run the rowing storage and rental facility, which takes up 3,600 sq. ft. The city has discussed charging the club “program fees” which is 20 percent of the rowing club’s receipts.

Recently District 4 resident and architect, Bennett Shuman, sent the following letter questioning the final design to the mayor and city council. He found the plan to be a “big disappointment.”

He pointed out that the design doesn’t have a neighborhood focus and turns its back to the public.

“I can see now that the selection process has selected the wrong designer and the 35-percent submittal results indicate the same,” wrote Shuman. “The public gathering(s) for planning input failed miserably. This is a terrible design in my opinion on several levels.”

He said the final design was not what “we in the immediate neighborhood signed up for.” Shuman asked the mayor to “nip this in the bud sooner than later for the upcoming election year.”

He asked the council to reconsider the community center plan.

“The proposal does little to interact with users and presents an indoor environment lacking shade and shadow comfort to transitional spaces surrounding the concept,” Shuman wrote.
“This concept amounts to a static governmental style where staffers might be the sole individuals pleased with the results.”

Trashy, Trashy Inweekly publisher Rick Outzen last week received a letter from a reader upset that the newspaper protected the name of the recovering heroin addict who helped with his Oct. 26 article “Heroin Crisis Hits Home.”

The reader wrote. “Incredibly trashy paper. Trashy article on drug addict-Don’t feel sorry for anyone anonymous. Trashy, trashy, garbage.”

The letter was unsigned, and there was no return address on the envelope.

D.C. Report U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced legislation on Nov. 2 to accelerate federal efforts to modernize the nation’s aging 911 systems.

Specifically, the bill calls for an expansion of an existing federal grant program designed to help state and local governments deploy next generation 911 systems.  Nelson says upgrades – such as allowing callers to text their local 911 center for help, or send audio, video and photos during an emergency – are needed to help move the country’s largely analog 911 call centers into the digital age that’s now dominated by the use of smartphones, tablets and other devices.

In addition to increasing federal support for next-generation 911 deployments, the legislation also requires studies on how to better protect 911 systems from cyberattacks, and make them more resilient to natural disasters or other catastrophes.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, 29 of Florida’s emergency 911 call centers suffered from impaired service in the days following Hurricane Irma. In fact, the FCC reported that at one point, 14 Florida call centers were completely offline in the wake of the storm.

On Nov. 3, Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL), member of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced a resolution calling for the resignation of Robert Mueller, former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, from his position as Special Counsel.

“Evidence has emerged that the FBI withheld information from Congress and from the American people about Russian corruption of American uranium companies,” Gaetz said. He asserted that FBI led at the time by Mueller, blocked a confidential witness from contacting Congress and federal courts about the bribery and corruption he saw.

“By silencing him, Obama’s Justice Department and Mueller’s FBI knowingly kept Congress in the dark about Russia’s significant and illegal involvement with American uranium companies,” said Rep. Gaetz said in a statement. “These deeply troubling events took place when Mr. Mueller was the Director of the FBI. As such, his impartiality is hopelessly compromised. He must step down immediately.”