Escambia County

County COW Roundup: Perdido Key, Jail and Field 8

August 16, 2013

By Jesse Farthing

Chairman Gene Valentino argued passionately for the board to move forward on a permanent easement to provide beach nourishment and dune restoration to Perdido Key at the Escambia County Commission’s Committee of the Whole meeting on Thursday.

Valentino sought a vote that would allow the county to use a “quick take” of eminent domain to grant access to beachfront property in order to begin work on beach nourishment.

Commissioner Grover Robinson argued against using eminent domain on the basis that the property owners who have so far responded favorably to the beach nourishment program are the minority. He said that if a majority of property owners were to allow it then he would have no argument against eminent domain for the others, but as it is now he cannot support it.

“We’re about to lose Perdido Key if we don’t do something to protect that key,” Valentino said. “Whether one person responded or a thousand responded. The beaches are eroding away.”

Valentino argued that people have not responded because they either don’t live in those properties full time, or they don’t care and expect the board to take care of it and make the decisions.

Ultimately, the arguments resulted in a plan to look into hiring an outside firm to do a professional census of property owners, in the hopes of receiving more responses, and moving forward from there.

Jail Transition

Interim County Administrator George Touart’s update to the board on the jail transfer asserted that all of the meetings with the sheriff’s department had been “very productive” and that it had been a great week. The largest portion of the personnel issues in administration has been worked out.

Amy Lovoy reported that the IT costs still had not been determined and figuring out IT issues was creating some time compression problems, but said that they are still committed to the October 1 date. Lovoy also said that nothing from the Department of Justice report had been assessed for costs.

Commissioner Lumon May expressed that he had some concerns regarding the DOJ report, the mental health court and whether or not money was going to be available within the budget to cover related expenses.

“We’re still within budget at this point in time,” Touart responded.

Outlying Field 8
The board voted unanimously to take control over the Navy’s Outlying Field 8 in Beulah in a land swap agreement where Escambia County will purchase and develop a property closer to Whiting Field, which they will then trade for Outlying Field 8.

The intention is to take the 425 buildable acres of the field and convert in into a commerce park. The board agreed to put out a request for proposals for an outside consultant to take a look at the land deal.

Robinson called this a “super deal” and Valentino said he had never seen such a “win-win-win situation before.”

The commission will meet next week, where they will discuss the ratification of the agreements.

  • Terrence Brotherton August 26, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    This is unbelievable! This morning I walked the beaches of Perdido Key and found the damage substantial! They are extremely scalloped providing dangerous rips in the rims and eroding in the middle all the way to the sea oats. In places, the erosion has taken eight to ten feet of protective dunes. While walking the beach, you are forced to walk on a 20-30 degree incline due to the advanced erosion. Over 40 years ago as a High School kid, I used to play and body surf here. The beaches were wide, pristine and fun. This morning, in my walk, I talked to several visitors to our paradise. They are disgruntled and upset that we have allowed the beach to erode to this extent. Some indicated they may take their tourist dollars elsewhere. I wish I could enclose some picture to show how really bad this is.
    Gene Valentino and Wilson Robertson have a plan to protect the island that protects all of us — the rest of the Board need to get on board. I understand that Steve Berry and Lamond May are still gathering data. I recommend that all of you write them to get behind Gene on this. As for Grover Robinson — shame on you. Just because the Santa Rosa Island authority does this for your constituents, thus providing them a monopoly for beach goers is no reason to turn your back on the safety of the county.

  • observer August 19, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Ames,

    The problem is that redredging Pensacola Pass, and not putting those spoils at the east end of Perdido Key are going to eventually cause the Key to disappear, if not renourished. In order to keep Pensacola Pass open for ships, we’ve short-circuited the natural movement of sand.

  • jeeperman August 19, 2013 at 6:17 am

    The BOCC has to spend more $$ on a “professional census” contractor to dial the phone and ask three questions.
    While county staff twiddles their thumbs.

  • Ames August 18, 2013 at 11:10 am

    I’ve been wondering, does a “professional census” (what is that?) taker have the legal authority to collect census information from occupants or owners of either residential or commercial property? I’ll bet you a ham sandwich that neither the BOCC, Gene, or a “professional census” taker has any authority comparable to that of a Federal Marshall.

  • Feed me August 16, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Gene’s shining accomplishment is the Taj Mahal heliport built right next to the Alabama state line to service the 13 full time residents of Perdido Key. Truly brilliant.

  • jeeperman August 16, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Those clowns on the BOCC have voted and approved that staff pursue permanent easement via eminent domain at least twice before.
    May 16th, 2013
    June 10th 2013
    How many times does county staff need to be told to do something?

  • Ames August 16, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Gene, this is what happens when politicians allow developers to build dense housing on sandbars…taxpayers get to keep paying somebody’s buddy to keep replacing the yards of waterfront occupants. Why hire someone to do a “professional census” or property owners? That information is available at the property appraisers office. DUH!

  • play ball August 16, 2013 at 8:28 am

    “Lovoy also said that nothing from the Department of Justice report had been assessed for costs.”

    Really?

  • Feed me August 16, 2013 at 7:30 am

    Hey Gene – that is why they call it Lost Key….