Another Hayward staged showdown on YMCA and CMP

March 11, 2013

The stage is set for another melodramatic showdown. This one is on whether the YMCA will be allowed to lease a parcel at the Community Maritime Park for its new $10-million downtown facility.

Alas, as of this writing, no one is sure where Mayor Hayward stands on the lease or even if the Pensacola City Council should discuss it before the lease is presented to the Community Maritime Park Associates Board of Trustees.

In other words, today’s meeting could be a non-event.

Such melodrama has become the hallmark of Hayward’s third year in office. All of them could have been avoided with better communication and some forethought. The showdowns, which have occurred at rate of one month, have been duds.

Showdown #1: Penzone Appointment. With no fanfare or explanation, Mayor Hayward announced that his paid consultant for the pensions was his nominee for the county’s RESTORE advisory. When the city council balked, City Administrator Bill Reynolds called a special Committee of the Whole meeting within 12 hours—–thinking he could embarrass and intimidate the council to approve Penzone. The special COW showdown faltered when it was determined that there was no such thing. Later Hayward appointed Bentina Terry, which the council approved.

Showdown #2: Oliver Report. Hayward hires former County Administrator Randy Oliver to look at the finances of the CMPA. In an effort to force Blue Wahoos to renegotiate their contract, Hayward had Oliver meet with the editorial board of the daily newspaper, which posted the report in its Sunday edition. Three days later, the CMPA was to have big meeting with Wahoos to discuss the report. That showdown fell flat when it was determined that Hayward and the CMPA had no power to force a renegotiation and that city hadn’t looked at its side of the expenses.

That leaves Showdown #3. Hayward met with Quint Studer and other supporters of the Y over three months ago. He pledged to give them a lease for the Y to be built on Pensacola Bay at the maritime park. Unfortunately for the Y, Hayward has been trying to back out of his commitment ever since.

Hayward took over the development of the maritime park when he was sworn in. Some want to point to finger at CMPA chairman Collier Merrill on why there has been no commercial development at the park. It was Hayward who wanted to handle that and he has meet with developers, hoteliers and others over the past two years, failing to land any of them.

When Hayward made the commitment to Y, he didn’t assign anyone the task of negotiating the lease or even determining the proper process to follow…until the last two weeks.

He apparently won’t be at the COW meeting. He isn’t giving any recommendation. Instead, Reynolds created a new agenda category “Attorney Communications” for the proposed lease. And the lease has problems—the Y, Councilmen Charles Bare and Andy Terhaar have pointed out issues.

The Y is left standing alone, defending a lease that they didn’t create. Mayor Hayward will hide out.

Notes: After failing to solicit any commercial developments to the maritime park for the past two years, Bare reports that Hayward has hired Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis to find them for the park.

Also, it should be noted that the CMP leases and property taxes were never intended to pay off the bonds on the park. There isn’t enough commercial land available on the property to do that. The maritime park was for public use and to be a magnet for other development within the CRA district.

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  • give it up March 11, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    oh great Joe – you stand to make a ton off of the YMCA project. Heaven forbid an out of towner come in and under bid you on the deal and save taxpayer money! All of you piggies made a ton on the CMP construction. Call it a day and enjoy the ride on your yacht.

  • Mike Stevenson March 11, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    “Showdown #1: Penzone Appointment. With no fanfare or explanation, Mayor Hayward announced that his paid consultant for the pensions was his nominee for the county’s RESTORE advisory”

    Actually, in questionable fashion, the mayor’s office appears to have convinced the daily paper do a video public relations piece on Penzone just before the nomination was made. While we learned he is an interesting person who does yoga to improve his golf game, we were left in the dark about Mr. Penzone’s qualifications and perspective going into this appointment. The video was transparent in its purpose and completely missed the mark.

    Let’s face it; we seem to have an overwhelmed novice at the helm, too much recycling in key city and county positions, and a destined-for-failure “Build it and they will come,” strategy to foster economic growth. With chronic bickering, mismanagement, self-serving egos and broken promises everywhere one looks, even a good idea like a YMCA leaves citizens suspect and puts well-meaning people in the path of foolishness.

  • Ames March 11, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Who is going to pay for the $2M Y, and why the heck would any person or business put a $10M building on leased property?
    Does it matter how many members of the Y want a facility on the waterfront?

  • Lola March 11, 2013 at 9:00 am

    The Mayor takes pride in being the City’s first Strong Mayor. But, I have seen no strength or leadership from this Mayor. If he intended to “take over the development” of the maritime park, he certainly has not done that. Perhaps he plans to continue promoting our Great City at happy hour with Fred and Jerry this afternoon rather than attend the COW meeting. He was elected to lead but he is not a leader.

    And so now Mr. Studer has provided an opportunity to put a facility on the property that will pay a lease and will benefit the entire community. That is much more than ANYONE else has done – certainly more than our Mayor. The fact that the paper trail, the procedure, contractual issues and everything else needed to close this deal has been screwed up is certainly not the fault of Mr. Studer. Our Strong Mayor is responsible for this mess.

    Thank you Mr. Studer for not giving up on Pensacola as we are feeling the growing pains often associated with inexperienced leadership. I do appreciate your willingness to continue working with us.

  • CJ Lewis March 11, 2013 at 8:54 am

    Why is this lease even on the City Council agenda? Who is running the City Council? We know it’s not Councilman P.C. Wu. He is merely the ceremonial figurehead. The City Council’s $82,500 a year Council Executive Lila Cox has said that City Administrator Bill Reynolds who works for Mayor Hayward puts the City Council’s agenda together. Why not let him run the City Council meetings too? As for Hayward’s position, he has said in private that he is against putting a YMCA at the Community Maritime Park. He just can’t bring himself to show enough leadership to say it in public.

    A barrage of Friends of the Y e-mails and phone calls has bombarded the City Council members. Even former weak Mayor Mike Wiggins is in on the action. It remains to be seen how effective the YMCA’s significant political lobbying campaign will be. At least one City Council member has been told in no uncertain terms that the pro-YMCA crowd will run a candidate against him if he dares to vote NO. As a warning, other City Council members are being told what will happen to those who do not cave to political pressure.

    Many of the e-mails sent to City Council members fail to disclose the e-mailer’s relationship to the project or explain some truly outlandish claims. One of the most interesting is this e-mail from the structural engineer for Blue Wahoos Stadium and the Hunter Amphitheatre, i.e. a person making money off the Community Maritime Park economic development project.

    Subject: The Maritime Y

    The Studers have done so much for the City of Pensacola. There are sound reasons why the Maritime Y would be good for Pensacola, but for no other reason than out of respect for the Studers, I support their initiative. It will always be possible to find reasons why an idea won’t work. Visionaries see the reasons why it will work.

    There are sound reasons to support the Y:

    While is it true that retail and office spaces will generate more tax revenue, you can’t have office buildings and retail without people. The Y will bring many more people down to the Maritime Park than a Maritime Museum would. I personally might visit it once and again when guests from out of town come, but that’s about it. The T.T. Wentworth Museum only gets about
    4000 visitors per year. The Y will bring people from all walks of life daily; it will be a catalyst for office and retail space.

    Quint was right about the Baseball team, Bodacious Olive, Carmen’s, his own business, and I trust him on this one. He’s trying hard to give us $5,000,000 in addition to the probably $50,000,000 he’s put into trying to improve Pensacola. He is without question, this City’s greatest benefactor. For God’s sake, don’t turn it down!


    Joe DeReuil, P.E.

  • Ross Calloway March 11, 2013 at 8:06 am

    So this is what we’ve been waiting for? The result of sources? I guess this means you still haven’t called the Mayor’s office to ask him where he stands? Reporting from behind is starting to get old.