Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday August 14th 2018

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The Buzz 5/17/18

Fund the Skate Park Jon Shell, founder of Upward Intuition, defended the skateboard community before the Pensacola City Council at its May 10 meeting. He also asked the council to fund a skateboard park on city land under Interstate 110.

“I’ve heard that Roger Scott Tennis Center is about to get a million dollar-plus makeover,” he said. “I think that’s great, but I don’t see this as being fair for the skaters that have been trying for nearly 40 years not to have their facility renovated, not for additional public facilities to practice their craft, but for a single quality space where they can enjoy the activity that they love.”

Shell added, “Unfortunately, if you’re a skateboarder in our city, you can pretty much expect to get yelled at, to get fined and have the police called.”

Since 2015, Shell and his friends have worked to make the skate park a reality. They were told they needed to raise funds to have “skin in the game”—a favorite phrase of Mayor Ashton Hayward. By the end of the year, Upward Intuition will have raised half a million dollars for the park. Shell believes the council needs to fund the balance needed to complete the project.

“I believe that the amount of public support and press the project has received in the last few weeks is a real testament to the great need we have in our community now,” he told the council. “My proposal today is that we agree to make this park a top priority and that we begin working together to figure out how to get shovels in the ground in 2018.”

Councilwoman Sherri Myers announced her support for the Upward Intuition project.

“To have a really good quality of life in Pensacola, we need a safe skateboard park where people can skate the way they want to skate,” said Myers. “A skateboard park makes that happen.”

Shell said that city officials have told him that the city didn’t have the funds to build the skate park. However, he pointed out that Tom Murphy, the former Pittsburgh mayor who spoke at CivicCon earlier this year, said that cities can always find money for the things that are important.

Shell said, “I feel like we have demonstrated that this is important and that there’s a need.”

Myers agreed, “I have heard that until I am sick and tired of it. I hear that all the time when it comes to my district. That’s one reason I ran for city council years ago because it was real simple. They didn’t have the money to cut our grass at our park. It was about grass. That’s simple. Yes, you do.”

She continued, “I believe we have the money. It’s how we prioritize money. I don’t agree with the priorities that I’ve seen in this city.”

Myers promised to ask the council’s budget analyst to find the money to build the skate park. She said, “We are going to look at how we can fund that skate park. One way or another, we’re going to help you.”

The Perfect Plain Brewing Co. held a fundraiser for Upward Intuition’s proposed Blake Doyle Skate Park after the city council meeting. The brewery reported 675 beers were sold, which equated to beer being ordered every 23 seconds.

Recycling Rebates The Pensacola City Council two weeks ago learned the city had stopped recycling its trash, even though residents have been faithfully sorting their trash and putting the recyclables on the curb every week.

In memorandum to the council, Eric Olson, city administrator, explained Tarpon Paper, the city’s recycling vendor based in Loxley, Ala., had stopped taking recyclables because China last year made the decision to reduce its imports of contaminated recyclables.

The administrator didn’t mention when Tarpon Paper stopped taking recyclables. City Public Information Officer Vernon Stewart told the paper the last load delivered to the Loxley facility was on Sept. 30, 2017.

According to news reports, the recycling agreement may not be approved by the ECUA board and Pensacola City Council until June, which means the city will have dumped its recyclables at the landfill for nine months before the agreement is finalized.

At the May 10 council meeting, Olson offered little additional information concerning the recycling. He said that the city had not started negotiating with the Emerald Coast Utility Authority to process its recyclables until March.

“But having a processor does not necessarily mean that everything we collect is going to get to someone who’s recycling it and using it again, which is our ultimate goal,” Olson said. “Our hope is that ECUA will be able to find buyers for the product that we’ll be sending to its processor.”

In an interview with the daily newspaper, Mayor Ashton Hayward said the city owed it to the taxpayers to “make sure what fees we are passing on to their customers.”

Inweekly has suggested the cost savings of dumping the recyclables with the regular trash at the landfill should be given to the city’s customers as rebates. According to the FY 2018 numbers, the annual budget for recycling is $983,800. The city could divide three-quarters of the budget among its 19,535 customers and give rebates of $37.77 to each.

Walk the Talk The Epilepsy Foundation of Florida (EFOF) will host its annual Walk the Talk for Epilepsy at Vince J. Whibbs Sr. Community Maritime Park on Saturday, May 19, to raise awareness and funds to benefit Floridians impacted by epilepsy. Registration will open at 8 a.m. with the walk following at 9 a.m.

The Pensacola Walk the Talk for Epilepsy will feature family-friendly entertainment, including a DJ, glitter booth, children’s play area, smoothie bike, activity table from Home Depot, raffle items and special presentation by the Navarre High School ROTC and Pensacola Roller Gurlz. Prizes for the top fundraising teams and individuals will be awarded.

Local resident Ella Cage will also be honored at the event with EFOF’s Clayton Feig Youth Award, an award commemorating youth who battle with seizures and that highlights the important work of those who are dedicated to removing the stigma and misunderstandings associated with epilepsy.

“Ella’s work in raising local epilepsy awareness is remarkable,” said Karen Basha Egozi, CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida. “We’re grateful to her for serving as an advocate and raising awareness and are proud to recognize her as she is a true representation of all this award entails.”

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