Collier says CMP developer may be playing the Council

May 26, 2009

Today, the Pensacola City Council debated the agreements of the Community Maritime Park. CMP developer, Scott Davidson, has been working the council members individually over the weekend trying to convince them that University of West Florida should move the Maritime Museum away from the waterfront. Davidson is worried that the prime land will become a “dead zone” if UWF doesn’t construct the museum in a timely fashion.

UWF President Judy Bense sent the Council this letter: city-council-maritime-park-letter-from-uwf.

Bense says that she had learned only a few weeks ago of Davidson’s efforts to “alter the location of the maritime museum through changes in, limitations to, or delay of the UWF ground leases.” She believes that significant changes in the location of the museum would put it in jeopardy.

Judge Collier got up to speak and questioned by the Council is getting so involved in these issues without the CMPA board first vetting the issues. Collier said that he only been notified of the agenda item 30 minutes before the meeting. Collier said that he believed that CMP developer Scott Davidson was playing them as a “sucker.”

The Federal judge who chairs the CMPA board told the Council that “from day one” Davidson has wanted the land on which UWF has been approved to use for the Maritime Museum.

Councilmen Sam Hall and Larry Johnson objected to Judge Collier’s comments. Hall was upset over Collier’s statements as to why the council was spending hours on an issue that the Judge felt should have gone before the CMPA board first. Johnson was offended by the “sucker” comments.

City Manager Al Coby said that it is up to the CMPA board to allow any changes to the park layout.

Note: My view is if Scott Davidson has someone truly interested in the location that has been designated for the Maritime Museum and they will pay a premium for it, then show the proposal to UWF, CMPA and the City Council. We can talk about it when there is something else concrete on the table.

If Davidson wants to change the design, bring it to the CMPA board after discussing it directly with UWF.

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