Oliver’s final report recommends mayor take control of maritime park

May 17, 2013

The Independent News has gotten a copy of consultant Randy Oliver’s final report on the Community Maritime Park–the one that the mayor didn’t share with the Community Maritime Park Associates Board of Trustees.

The report has two recommendations not included in the draft that city circulated back in February. Oliver recommends that the CMPA board be replaced with the City Council or CRA (which are the same people) or have the CMPA report directly to Mayor Hayward or City Administrator Bill Reynolds.

“Currently there is no one governing body responsible for decision making,” writes Oliver.

The second recommendation is to make one person accountable for all activities at the park. He suggests that person be the mayor or city administrator.

These two recommendations are in line with what Mayor Ashton Hayward told supporters at 5 1/2 Bar what he wanted earlier this year – so Hayward and Reynolds should be pleased.

The one recommendation that they won’t like is Oliver writing that a Request for Qualifications should be issued for the operation of the park for non-baseball days. The city has chosen to privately negotiation with SMG, the company which handles the Pensacola Bay Center and Saenger Theater, even though the CMPA board had voted to issue the request.

Read FinalOliver


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  • ouch May 18, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    CJ – you give me a headache, again

  • CJ Lewis May 18, 2013 at 8:12 am

    The City never should have gotten in bed with the CMPA in the first place. From the start, when it refused to let the public speak providing its input on a public project being built on public land using public monies, the CMPA has been a cesspool of incompetence demanding more public money to build less than promised to city voters in 2006. The CMPA has no real chief administrative official of its own, its Executive Director Ed Spears reporting to and serving at the pleasure of Mayor Ashton Hayward not the CMPA Board of Trustees. Spears will make no secret of where his loyalties lay if you ask him. The CMPA does not have independent legal counsel. Several meetings back, CMPA Chairman Collier Merrill directly said that Ed Fleming is no longer the CMPA’s legal advisor. The CMPA has no Master Developer never having replaced the one it fired a few years back. Now four years after it first took legal “possession” of the land for a lease of 60 years, the CMPA has not lifted a finger to market the ground parcels.

    The CMPA has regularly squandered public money and is even right now not concerned with ensuring that the City receives “fair value” for the ground parcels. The CMPA just approved the Beck deal for a 21,000 square foot building when the CMPA’s own document, specifically the 2007 Design Criteria Pattern Book, envisions Parcel 1 holding a 4-5 story building of up with 73,500 square feet to include structured parking. City taxpayers are going to take it in the shorts for generations, as are the County and School Board deprived of the lost property tax revenues. From the start, the CMPA has been a collected assemblage of inept do-gooders whose actions and inactions have endangered the financial future of the City of Pensacola where some of them do not even live. The CMPA cannot even do basic arithmetic its own Articles of Incorporation authorizing a Board of 12 Trustees yet it unexplainably has 13, down from 14.

    The CMPA cannot even take charge of the Multi-Use Facility (Blue Wahoos Stadium) that it – not the public – owns. Back in March 2010, former Maritime Park Development Partners V.P. for Development Scott Davison gave a presentation to the Propeller Club at the Pensacola Yacht Club. CMPA Trustee John Merting was present. I took copious notes providing a four-page, single-space typed version to both the City Council and the CMPA Board. Merting emphasized that “the Multi-Use Stadium needs to be used 365 days a year.” Davison said that the stadium would be open from 6 am to 10 pm each day for use by the public if they wanted to “hang out.” Yet, at a recent Council meeting, during a discussion about the lack of public restrooms in downtown, we learned that the stadium’s restrooms were not open at 6 pm when someone wanted to use them. The CMPA’s office space in the stadium is occupied by the Blue Wahoos!

    I think that Oliver is wrong on one big point in his discussion of “Size of CMPA Board.” He writes, “Please note the City is responsible for marketing and leasing the private development not the CMPA.” That statement is contrary to the Community Maritime Park’s Master Lease Agreement. As for the size and composition of the CMPA Board, the City screwed itself when it approved the Omnibus Amendment that deleted Section 15 of the Master Lease Agreement. Spears has since instructed several Council members and CMPA Trustees that the CMPA can cut the City out of the process of appointing CMPA Trustees at any time, i.e. it is now a privilege the CMPA grants to the City no longer a contractual right the City can enforce upon the CMPA.

    Fortunately, for the moment, the City has the upper hand. As I see it, the smart move is to not subsidize the CMPA to the tune of $400,000 in Fiscal Year 2014, call in the $500,000 back-of-house loan and force the CMPA to dissolve itself out of corporate existence. Assuming the CMPA Board refuses to shut down the CMPA to clear the deck, what can the City do? The simplest course of action, other than refuse to continue providing corporate welfare to the CMPA, is to appoint only City Council members as Trustees. The far bolder move would be for the Council to adopt a resolution removing all CMPA Trustees from office. The case will be easy to make to include alleging breach of contract by the CMPA for refusing to market the private ground parcels depriving the City Treasury of so much money.

    Quicker is better. Think of it as a political guillotine exercise. In addition to appointing itself as the Trustees of the CMPA, the Council should appoint the Mayor too. If Hayward refuses to serve, the Council should adopt an ordinance making the Mayor’s service on the CMPA part of “the executive powers of the City” exercised by the Mayor along with everything else in the Code of Ordinances that says the Mayor shall or may do this or that even when he refuses to comply with City law. The Council should make the Mayor the Chairperson of the CMPA and the Council President the Vice-Chairperson. The Council Vice-President can be the CMPA’s Secretary. The day-to-day operations of the Community Maritime Park could be run by the Director of the Neighborhood Services Department who currently reports to the City Administrator.

  • What a Joke May 17, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    Ames — Too funny! When do you think the Mayor will actually show up for meetings that aren’t photo ops?!

  • Ames May 17, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Nah. There should be 5 at large council members and they should oversee the CMPA board. They should all be required to attend all council and board meetings and all should be required to vote on matters requiring a vote. Absence from a meeting should require a doctor’s note and meeting rescheduled to a time when all can attend. Seriously. They should each have to answer to all the citizens of the city.