Over the course of the summer, the city of Pensacola and the West Florida Regional Planning Council held a series of public workshops concerning the downtown historic district’s street grid, specifically the opening of East Government Street. The information gathered during the workshops will be presented to the Pensacola City Council Monday.
“I think we have some interesting ideas to present to the city,” said Alan Gray, a regional planner with the WFRPC.
During a city council meeting earlier this month, a citizen who had attended the public workshops requested that a neighborhood organization be allowed to make a presentation regarding the meetings. He told the council that during the final workshop, information gleamed in the meetings had been lost on a computer.
City Administrator Bill Reynolds informed council that the WFRPC was already slated to make a presentation during the board’s next Committee of the Whole. Councilman Brian Spencer, who was also active in the workshops, requested the neighborhood organization keep in contact with him.
“I just want to encourage them to maintain a dialogue with me up to that meeting,” Spencer said.
The public workshops were a result of council requesting public input after Mayor Ashton Hayward asked the body to sign off on the reconnecting of East Government Street to Ninth Avenue. Though framed as a broader discussion concerning the Complete Streets philosophy and the historic district’s street grid, citizens consistently hammered the main point: they do not want to see East Government reopened.
“I mean, they don’t want their street opened to an express way,” Gray said heading in to the final workshop. “But they do like these ideas of safety and lighting and bicycle lanes—they like all those things.”
With the public’s sentiment obvious, city spokesperson Derek Cosson said in July that the mayor would probably not be bringing up the East Government issue again.
“We don’t have any plans to bring that original proposal back unless that’s what comes out of these meetings and I don’t suspect that’s what’s going to happen,” Cosson said. “I can’t imagine the original proposal is coming back.”
Gray said this week that he had heard about the neighborhood group’s desire to make a presentation to city council.
“I understand that some citizen came in and tried to present an idea to city council that they wanted to make their own presentation,” Gray said. “I was just puzzled why they wanted to have their own presentation, but they do.”
The planner said that the WFRPC had prepared “extensive reports that detail the findings of these meetings” and that he was unaware of the “intent” or “concern” of the neighborhood group. Insofar as material lost due to a computer malfunction, Gray said it amounted to “about two sentences of information.”
The planner explained that the WFRPC had been contracted to present information and collect public input. He said the group could only present city council with the input they received.
“Ethically bound,” Gray said. “I don’t think that they understand that we are ethically bound.”
The Pensacola City Council will meet for its Committee of the Whole meeting Monday at 3:15 p.m. at Pensacola City Hall.