In today’s Pensacola News Journal, Joe Baucum reports on the conflicts between the contractor of the Government Street-Corinne Jones Stormwater Pond and city officials. Nearly two years after the contractor was hired and four years after Mayor Ashton Hayward announced the project, the pond still has not been completed.
According to Baucum’s investigation, city officials have misrepresented the completion date of the stormwater pond, despite emails from the contractor telling them otherwise.
City Administrator Eric Olson reported on the project several times. He told the Pensacola City Council at its May 8 Agenda Review: “The not so good news is that last Friday we were notified by the contractor … They had given us a schedule March 24th, saying that they would be completed by May 31st. Unfortunately, that is not the case.”
Based on the public records obtained by the News Journal, the contractor, Utility Service, in March told city that the completion date would be July 5. However, Olson and other city officials said it would be May 31.
Did Olson knowingly mislead the Pensacola City Council or did the city’s engineering project manager, Brad Hinote, misrepresent the completion date to his superiors?
Either answer undermines the public’s trust in the Mayor Ashton Hayward’s administration. In his written budget statement included in the FY 2018 Proposed Budget, the mayor listed his goals.
His sixth goal was: “Transparent: The public will be well-informed and able to fully access City services and participate in local government.”
Mayor Hayward needs to investigate why the public has not been “well-informed” on the Corinne Jones Pond and appears to have been deliberately misled.
The City’s website still shows the estimated completion date to be Summer 2017. The project page has not been updated since December 2016.
However, the city did post in October this photo of the project on all of its social media accounts:
Sadly, a week later the eastern pond washed out again. Government Street was closed and the pavement dug up. The street is still closed. The pond hasn’t been repaired. Did the city create the photo opportunity to make it appear the project was completed but knowing that it still had drainage issues?