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Monday September 1st 2014

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Hooper Visits DIB

The chairman of the now disbanded Mayor’s Urban Redevelopment Advisory Committee sat down with the Downtown Improvement Board this morning to discuss the committee’s recent report.

“We are by no means anti-DIB,” Brian Hooper told the board. “We just want it to be more efficient.”

For much of the last year, Hooper presided over Mayor Ashton Hayward’s downtown-centric committee. The group was tasked with making recommendations aimed at continuing the growth of the city of Pensacola’s urban core.

“It really is the only authentic urban place along the panhandle, along Northwest Florida,” Hooper said.

The advisory committee issued a report full of recommendations in the fall. Where the DIB was concerned, it suggested streamlining the organization and placing it within the mayor’s office.

“It started a firestorm, basically, for us,” said DIB Treasurer Ed Carson, adding that the report was making the search for a new executive director awkward. “The timing of this report couldn’t have been worse for that particular endeavor.”

Carson suggested that the advisory committee didn’t fully comprehend the DIB. He said it would have been nice to have had input during the committee’s process.

“That’s a fair point,” Hooper said, noting that his committee had sought input and had conferred with former DIB executive director Kim Kimbrough. “None of us are dummies, we tried to understand it the best we could.”

DIB board member John Peacock said that the committee process was in the past. That the board should now explore the future.

“If we had to recreate the DIB today, would we do it the same way?” he asked. “There’s a big perception in this town, albeit unfair, that the DIB is not effective.”

Peacock made a motion, which the board passed, to accept the mayor’s advisory committee’s report and to take it under consideration.

“I think it’s a great start to reinvent DIB, if you will, not that it’s necessarily broken,” he said.

Hooper told the DIB that he did not know which of the advisory committee’s recommendations Hayward would act on.

“All these recommendations are advisory, I have no idea what Mayor Hayward wants to do with them,” he said. “He hasn’t spoken to me. I have no idea what he thinks of any of these recommendations.”