Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward doesn’t like to explain or defend his decisions in face-to-face situations, town hall meetings, or anywhere he might have to answer unscripted questions. He’s much more comfortable on social media, YouTube and other controlled environments.
Councilwoman Sherri Myers has become frustrated with the wall Hayward has built around him. In a letter to the mayor, Myers wrote, “For eight years, you have sent your standard letter to all city council members requesting our input regarding budget priorities for our districts. In the past, I have responded to your standard letter. I have never received a written or verbal response to any letters.”
We’ve known Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward doesn’t like to attend city council meetings. When he got upset that his plan for Chick-fil-A at the airport might not happen, he discontinued his weekly meetings with Pensacola business leaders in September 2013. When citizens began to question his decisions in late 2013, he stopped holding “Taking City Hall to the Citizens” town hall meetings. A month later, the mayor halted his “Mornings with the Mayor” when the press began to question his fish hatchery.
Myers is concerned that she might lose money for the long-anticipated sidewalks for Burgess Road. She explained that last year she asked that unallocated money in Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) VI be allocated to Burgess Road.
“However, when your proposed budget came out for fiscal year 2018, you had taken the $1.6 million and used it for Bayview Community Center and increased that project by over $2 million,” she said. “I had to fight like hell to get council to allocate $1.6 million for Burgess Road, from the LOST VI, from another line item you had to slap down asphalt for resurfacing.”
She believes the mayor will never let the sidewalks be constructed.
“Even though the Council allocated the $1. million for Burgess Rd., based on comments from Mr. Olson, I am absolutely confident that you and your staff will make sure that project never happens,” said Myers.
“Rest assured however, that as long as my two feet are able to walk on this earth, Burgess Road and the safety of poor people and school kids will be a top priority for me.”
Myers’ other priorities include:
Carpenter’s Creek. I haven’t heard one word of support from you in support of the RESTORE project for Carpenter’s Creek. If there is a “word,” please send it to me.
I did not copy you on the letter that I sent to FDOT regarding the replacement of 9th Ave, bridge. The design of the new bridge is critical to efforts to Restore the creek. Furthermore, the bridge needs to be very walkable, with lighting that is aesthetic and that provides an aesthetic entrance to the Uptown District.
The letter that was sent to FDOT is attached. It was not sent to you, because I do not trust you or your administration to care about the wellbeing of the Uptown District. I believe the distrust is well founded based on my dealings with your administration. The 9th Ave., project is an FDOT project.
The citizens have spoke at my town hall meetings regarding this project. We have spoken at FDOT meetings. We will fight for the amenities we have requested of FDOT, with or without your support, though it would be welcomed.
Please provided me with a copy of your letter of support, otherwise, I will take the position that you do not support the will of the citizens of Pensacola regarding the replacement of the 9th Ave. bridge.
Street lighting at all signalized intersections from Fairfield to Olive Rd.
Yes, I know they are state roads, but these needs where not addressed in the so call “street light” study. However, the city provides street lights in residential neighborhoods, why not for commercial property owners.
Why is the street lighting along Brent and Bayou from Davis Hwy to 12th Ave., so spotty?
Why is a the busiest pedestrian area in the city and the county around Scared Heart and Cordova Mall dark?
Have you been on the phone with FDOT regarding this issue?
What has the city offered in terms of addressing the safety of pedestrians who walk along Bayou and 9th Ave?
Also, the lack of street lighting at Tippin and Creighton. It could have been improved by the city. I don’t think it was even addressed in the so called “street light” study. Thank God for FDOT. FDOT has plans to put street lighting at that signalized intersection of Tippen and Creighton as part of the FDOT improvements to Creighton Rd.
Drainage and storm water: While the city is doing a good job retrofitting storm water flow into Carpenter’s Creek, there is much more that needs to be done, such as addressing storm water pond maintenance and road reconstruction. Simple things like stop cutting the grass so short that it causes the grass to die which causes erosion of our storm water ponds.
Parks and Recreation:
Fair share of the Parks and Recreation budget: Very little money comes out of Parks and Recreation for District 2, or for the north end of the city for that matter. Out of 90 plus parks in the City of Pensacola, only eight are in district 2. The neighborhood of Camelot waited for over 30 years to get playground equipment and that came about when FDOT bought park of the passive park for a storm water pond. When arsonist burned it to the ground not long after it was built, Mr. Olson told me that the city was not going to replace it because it would cost $65,000.00. I told Mr. Olson that not replacing it was not an option. The playground equipment was replaced, but it is not universally designed for children with disabilities.
Not only does district 2 have just eight parks, but there are no community centers or athletic centers. Gull Point is the closes community center and it is run down and in need of rehabilitation. It is the only senior eating facility in the north end. While it is not in District 2, Gull Point has programs that service the north end of the city. The large subdivision, Eau Clair, north of 9th Ave., does have any parks, nothing. So really, how much is that community getting from the taxes property owners and residents pay the city.
Uptown District – no green spaces, no promotion.
But, you will be glad to take all of the property taxes Uptown generates to subsidize the rest of the city. Not only is Uptown the primary commercial core, put thousands of students and visitors come to our state college and medical facilities every day. We have Sacred Heart Health System that is an important regional hospital. SH has over a thousand employees. Where is the green space for them?
You are working on providing storm water parks with walkable green spaces for Baptist Health System.
Where are the green spaces for all of the employees that work at Sacred Heart and all of the other businesses in the Uptown commercial core?
What happened to the four-acre pond the city owns adjacent to Carpenter’s Creek?
When is it going to be converted into a green space like the many ponds you are working so hard to get all over downtown and the west side areas?
Heck, you won’t even get street lights put in at 9th and Bayou so pedestrians and employees of our many businesses can safely walk across the streets.
Why isn’t the Anna Lamar Switzer art gallery mentioned on the City’s website as a destination for visitors to come and see the best art in the city of Pensacola? How could that be overlooked? Politics? Grudge?
Police: Never see police when school kids are walking down Burgess Rd. That stopped 3 years ago. Still a lot of speeders in the Cordova Mall area.
Lastly, I want to address the lack of transparency in the budget process that has come from your administration.
- You have done everything possible to make sure the council did not have the resource we need to have independent staff, unattached to you, to help us understand the budget process and develop a budget that is in the interest of the entire city.
- You fired our first council executive without informing the council. Council took care of the Cox firing with a referendum that changed the charter.
- Your buddy on the city council tried to discredit our new independent council executive when he has hired. You vetoed our efforts to hire our independent budge analyst. We fixed that with a veto override.
- Until 2017, I didn’t know there was a Budget Preparation Manual. It had never been provided to council, nor was it published anywhere on the City’s website. However, each year Escambia County publishes its Budget Preparation Manual. I didn’t know the city had a Budge Preparation Manual until a citizen told me. I made a request for the 2017 manual and learned a lot about the budget process.
- I learned that the letter that is sent to council every January is just a formality. Don’t know who collects the response and files them away in file #13. In order to help the citizens understand the budget process of the city,I had the Budget Preparation Manual posted to my City Council page so the public will have access to it.
Well, my hands are getting tired of typing. I have other priority issues to add to my list. I will send them along as I have time.
Sherri Myers, District 2, City Council