Escambia County News

Commissioners Snub Plan B

April 17, 2012

After hearing overwhelming sentiment from their constituents, Escambia County commissioners cannot see their way to go ahead with a suggested infrastructure project on Pensacola Beach.

“If there’s three votes not to do A or B, are we gonna sit through all the speakers,” asked Commissioner Kevin White during this morning’s workshop as he looked ahead to the afternoon meeting.

After years of effort, a $25 million plan to address parking and pedestrian-flow issues on the beach was recently throughly rejected by the public. The Santa Rosa Island Authority sat through hours of negative public comment in February before approving Plan B, one of two infrastructure options before them.

Commissioners clarified during this morning’s workshop that they would not be approving either plan. A formal vote will be held during today’s 5:30 p.m. meeting, which was expected to draw a crowd.

“I really think we ought to notify them,” said Chairman Wilson Robertson, referring to the opposition contingent.

White said he’d skip the speakers if they showed up.

“I’m gonna go to dinner, then come back and vote no,” he said.

One aspect of the beach infrastructure project was the possibility of an increased bridge toll in an effort to fund the work. Commissioner Grover Robinson said that his contacts with the Santa Rosa Island Authority had informed him that they might still be looking to raise the toll.

“I just wanted y’all to be aware of that,” Robinson said. “That may happen, that may not. I’ve been told some people are going to make that request.”

Commissioners did agree that they would like county staff to begin to address traffic and pedestrian concerns on the beach outside the bounds of the $25 million Plan B. Robinson said he’d like to see improved signage alerting drivers to cross-walk rules—he witnessed a cross-walk related incident on Pensacola Beach over the weekend.

“Some idiot going east bound is plowing through there honking at people in the cross walk,” he said, noting that walkers had the right of way. “We’ve got some people who don’t understand what the rules are and they don’t understand common courtesy either.”

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