Pensacola

Next Pensacola City Hall headache: Morris Court playground

November 14, 2016

A week after winning re-election, Pensacola City Councilwoman Jewel Cannada-Wynn is recommending the City permanently close the children’s playground in Morris Court and let the land’s ownership revert to the Area Housing Commission for more low-income housing.

Residents and homeowners in the area have told Inweekly that they aren’t happy about losing their playground.

Commissioner Lumon May grow up in the Morris Court area and worries about the impact of losing the playground. He said that he would like to have a town hall meeting to get  input for the families in the neighborhood.

On Saturday, Inweekly visited Morris Court. The playground had been chained and padlocked. A “Danger” signs hung on the gates. The playground equipment was old and needed repair. Children were playing kickball in the side yard of home one block north of the park and having to dodge traffic when the ball went into the street. A parent said the playground had been closed for months.

In 1990, the Area Housing Commission deeded the land located on J and Lloyd streets, under the condition that the city “shall forever keep and use the property as a playground area for children.”

Commissioner May is concerned about where the children living in Morris Court will play. He doesn’t like the idea of building more housing without providing amenities like a playground to residents.

He said that Baptist Hospital has announced it plans to create a green space and park on its campus, but that area is several blocks away from Morris Court.

The City of Pensacola has a total of 93 parks & open spaces, of those 53 have playgrounds. The Morris Court playground will be the first one permanently closed by the City.

Pensacola City Hall has had several battles with its neighborhoods over the past three years – Dollar Store on Spanish Trail (2013), Probation & Parole Center (2014), Manna Warehouse (2015), and Long Hollow Radio Tower (2015) to name a few. This could be the next one.

The Morris Court playground is up for discussion at today’s Agenda Review. Read Morris-Court-Park

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  • CJ Lewis November 14, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Not discussed here or in the agenda item is why Morris Court Park is “Permanently Closed” as it says on Google Map. However, if you look on the city’s website they have pretty pictures of the children’s play equipment and the basketball courts with no indication the park is closed. Someone should explain why the park was closed in the first place and by who and when. In 2014, the Proposed Project list for Extension of Local Option Sales Tax lists $90,000 for “Replace equipment” at Morris Court Park. That project is reflected in the city’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget document approved on September 14, 2016. The letter included in the agenda package shows that Councilwoman Jewel Cannada-Wynn met with the Executive Director of the Area Housing Commission prior to September 15 and that Assistant City Administrator Keith Wilkins contacted the Executive Director on September 15. Clearly, Cannada-Wynn was working an agenda perhaps in partnership with a local real estate developer. During the District 7 campaign, did the issue of Morris Court Park come up and what did Cannada-Wynn say if anything? During the Women for Responsible Legislation candidate forum held on September 22 in city hall Cannada-Wynn said that District 7 had gotten more than its fair share and did not need anything more like a Senior Resource Center, etc. She was very clear in saying that it would not be fair for the rest of the city if District 7 got any more. I left the event wondering why we even had anyone on the City Council designated to represent District 7. At least if we had seven at-large City Council members, all of them would care about the people who lived in the current District 7. There probably is a very interesting trail of public records to piece together on this issue. I attended the full duration of all budget workshops in August and budget hearings in September. I cannot recall Cannada-Wynn objecting to funding in the budget for Morris Court Park.

    • George Hawthorne November 15, 2016 at 7:06 am

      Follow the money CJ. Look at her campaign donors and the obvious choice for the “local developer” is right there my friend.

    • henry November 15, 2016 at 10:33 am

      ICYMI: P.C. Wu 60% Lewis 40%

      • George Hawthorne November 15, 2016 at 5:31 pm

        We will see how that works out for you.

  • lewis rhodes November 14, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    here we go again ,reminds me of the closing of the old warrington ball park what a great job gave the kids of warrington no place to play ball but they can jog now .what a joke !.yeah lets take another youth outlet away so we can lock them up for wandering the streets there is plenty of land to put up low income housing so dont act like you have to close the play ground if it has problems fix them give the parents a place to take their kids and to mingle with friends ,god knows the kids in warrington that are low income have no where to play ball for how long know I was promised a new and better park .

  • Bill M. November 14, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    I agree with you 100%, George. Keep the playground and spread the low income housing around in small developments.

  • George Hawthorne November 14, 2016 at 11:25 am

    They voted her and she did it to them AGAIN. The worst thing a city can do is to concentrate and cluster low-income housing in a concentrated area. The best-practices and new model for such housing is to lessen density and the creation of mixed-income neighborhoods. The best example is HUDs Hope 6 program that has been in existence for more than 20 years. This has transformed cities’ public housing projects into thriving communities.