A few points to clarify on Morris Court playground debate

PNJ reporter Jim Little did a good job of reporting on the residents wanting to keep the city’s playground in Morris Court open.

Since November 2016, Inweekly has reported on the dispute. Councilwoman Jewel Cannada-Wynn has been determined to close the park and return it to the Area Housing Commission for nearly year. Commissioner Lumon May, who grew up in Morris Court, and residents have pushed back, successfully getting the item pulled from the council’s agenda twice.

A few points:

1. The homicide of Ronkia Sonnier occurred around 1:15 a.m. at Morris Court. The fight spilled over from a party held elsewhere. Investigators determined a group of females ranging in age from their late teens to early 20s attended a party in the area of Fairfield Drive and Pace Boulevard, and then went to a park at Morris Court where a fight occurred. Read more.

2. Cannada-Wynn’s town hall meeting was sparsely attended. Many of the people wanted to talk about the Tanyard’s problems with the Government Street Stormwater Project. The residents who want to keep the park open and have said they weren’t aware of the meeting. Read more.

3. The PNJ reporter writes that the mayor’s office is deferring all questions on the playground to Canada-Wynn. The councilwoman has said she is working out an solution with Area Housing. Wait, the operations of city parks is a function of the executive branch. The Hayward administration should be weighing in on this problem– gathering facts and meeting with the residents. Mayor Ashton Hayward and his staff are the ones to implement any decisions. Why is the strong mayor not exercising his authority over the playground? Too hot to handle?

Other posts:

Next Pensacola City Hall headache: Morris Court playground – Rick’s …

Nov 14, 2016 – 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 …

Morris Court playground gets reprieve – Rick’s Blog – Pensacola

Morris Court playground gets reprieve. November 15, 2016. At the end of the Pensacola City Council’s Agenda Review, Councilwoman Jewel Cannada-Wynn  …

Morris Court playground closure to be debated – Rick’s Blog – Pensacola

Apr 5, 2017 – Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward and Councilwoman Jewel Cannada-Wynn want to give the playground in Morris Court back to the Area …

Cannada-Wynn pulls Morris Court playground off agenda … – Rick’s Blog

 Apr 12, 2017 – Pensacola City Councilwoman Jewel Cannada-Wynn has wanted to permanently close the Morris Court playground for months, despite …

2 thoughts on “A few points to clarify on Morris Court playground debate

  1. Humm… how did the Wedgewood Communities get a million dollar and beautiful community center and park? A major rezoing of codes surrounding the community center, homes and churches thus bringing in 11 unregulated landfills that cover the area woth toxic air, soil and water . Politics is just a business deal waiting to happen – cha-ching…

  2. During a September 2016 candidate forum, I emphasized the importance of parks & recreation facilities to improve the quality of life in the neighborhoods. My opponent P.C. Wu did not attend the forum sponsored by the Women for Responsible Legislation. The two District 7 candidates Jewel Cannada-Wynn and Anny Shepard did attend.

    I do not recall Cannada-Wynn saying anything about Morris Court Park. In fact, only days before she had voted for the current city budget that provides for $90,000 in future improvements to Morris Court Park. When I laid out my very different concept about how to spread the benefits of $70 million in ten years worth of Local Option Sales Tax dollars to benefit all seven Council districts, Cannada-Wynn said that her District 7 did not need anything to include a Senior Resource Center, etc. We now know that she was secretly in cahoots with Hayward to get rid of Morris Court Park, presumably part of Hayward’s broader strategy to reduce the number of city parks. I have heard him discuss his view that the city has too many parks, a view also expressed by Mike DeSorbo in 2008.

    What might be “interesting” for PNJ readers is if Jim Little put together a timeline based on public records requests to describe for how long Cannada-Wynn has been working to get rid of Morris Court Park. Little reports, “In September, the commission requested back the land to develop single-bedroom apartments on the property.” I suspect that the more accurate story is that Cannada-Wynn and Hayward asked the Area Housing Commission to ask for the land back. That point should be easy to verify.

    Another option that might work is for the city to transfer the land to Escambia County that seems to know how to operate and maintain public parks. Better yet, because all of the city is in the county and almost everyone using a park in the city is a county resident, perhaps the city could give all of its parks to the county.

    We might then get bike racks for the kids in Eastgate Park (Scenic Heights) across the street from my home. For years, I have asked for them but been told the city is “broke.” Of course, the city has plenty of money for neon bike racks on Palafox for hipsters. As everyone in the city knows and can see with their own eyes, the city’s parks are poorly maintained and no one in city hall cares. Perhaps if the county were in charge they might be better maintained.

    As for the fate of Cannada-Wynn, a state law provides that after she has served the first year of her four-year term of office, District 7 voters can remove her from office by recall. The law is Section 100.361 Municipal Recall, Florida Statutes. The petition signature requirements are relatively low. “Misfeasance” – the negligent discharge of her official duties – seems the recall cause that would best apply. I bet that Lumon May would help get the petition signatures anticipating that the person elected as Cannada-Wynn’s replacement is much more likely to care about the district.

    As a political note, because of the City Council’s racial gerrymandering done in 2011, District 7 no longer has a majority of African-American votes. Neither does District 5. In fact, none of the city’s election districts has a majority of African-American voters. The racial gerrymander was even done in District 4 whose African-American population was diluted by 30% after Councilman Larry Johnson testified before the Districting Commission to express his concern about what he called – “the racial mix.” Johnson emphasized, “…the majority of my constituents are Caucasian or white.” When you read the public record of the 2011 districting process, you get a sense it was 1951 or 1961 not 2011.

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