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Sunday April 20th 2014

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Pensacola officials are eyeing a lawsuit against the owners of Tom, Ann, Buddy’s. The corner bar has earned a nefarious reputation over the years and, more importantly in this case, racked up $22,738.50 in code enforcement fines.

“This has to do with code enforcement and liens, but it is really something I wish we could get rid of,” said Pensacola City Councilman Ronald Townsend, whose district the business lies in.

The city will be filing the lawsuit against Donald A. Markham and Vaughn T. Markham, owners of the 1917 W. Cervantes St. establishment. The bar and package lounge has long been cited by law enforcement as being a source of illegal activity, such as drug sales and prostitution. A Christmas day brawl in 2003 ended when police tased a patron, and this past December police shot a man in the bar’s parking lot.

City council members voiced unanimous support for the effort during their Feb. 6 Committee of the Whole meeting.

“It’s been an eyesore in my district for years,” Townsend said.

City Council President Sam Hall said he could tell some “heartbreaking stories” concerning the establishment and that it “comes down to respecting others.”

Councilwoman Sheri Myers said that this was a good example of how  the city’s code enforcement should function and City Administrator Bill Reynolds said the establishment was dragging down the surrounding area.

“This is exactly what happens to our neighborhoods when we have one or two pieces of blighted property,” Reynolds said.

This will be the first time the city has sued in an effort to either collect or foreclose. A code enforcement case was opened against the business in May 2008 due to its roof being damaged and covered with a tarp. In October of that year, the city began charging the business a $15 per day fine until it was brought into compliance.

In January 2010 that fine was upped to $50 per day. By November of that year, the Markhams had brought the building up to code. No payments were ever made on the more than $20,000 fine.