CRA administrator declares Bruce Beach not part of CRA…stop laughing

Mayor Ashton Hayward and his staff continue to try to wordsmith their way of the issues surrounding the fish hatchery. Last week, the mayor’s office tried to redefine commencement of construction.

The latest attempt is from Community Redevelopment Agency director Helen Gibson who has stated to a council member that Bruce Beach is not part of the CRA.

From: Helen Gibson
Sent: Monday, October 23, 2017 10:33 AM
To: Sherri Myers
Cc: Victoria D’Angelo
Subject: RE: Please give me a call

Good Morning, Board Member Myers. The CRA has never been a party to the Fish Hatchery lease. The property was purchased by the City of Pensacola in 1974, and no CRA funds were ever allocated to it. The CRA statutes do not apply.

M. Helen Gibson, AICP
CRA Administrator

Below is the map of the CRA from the City’s website. Bruce Beach is at the end of Clubb Street in the lefthand corner.

Moreover, Bruce Beach was included in the 2010 CRA Plan. In the plan is the City Ordinance that defined the boundaries of the CRA district as shown in the map above:

“On March 8, 1984, the City Council adopted Ordinance No. 13-84 which established the priority area for redevelopment and the Redevelopment Trust Fund for the Urban Core Community Redevelopment Area. The area boundaries were established as follows:

That area situated in the City of Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida, which is bound on the west by “A” Street; on the north by Cervantes Street; on the east by 17th Avenue, the L & N Railroad trestle and the mouth of Bayou Texar; and on the south by Pensacola Bay;

The mayor and his leadership team are embarrassing themselves.


2 thoughts on “CRA administrator declares Bruce Beach not part of CRA…stop laughing

  1. FYI: the Corrine Jones Park washed out again last night… but, it “always floods down here…”

  2. Because the Pensacola Community Redevelopment “Agency” (CRA) is an agency of the city government, you would think it would have to sign off on all actions at least within the CRA’s three Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts to include the two-square mile Urban Core Community Redevelopment “Area,” more so because all city actions in a TIF district have significant tax consequences for the CRA. Under state law, the CRA is supposed to be a separate legal entity of the city. Of course, because the City Council opted to employ the alternate method of appointing CRA Commissioners, appointing themselves instead of regular citizens, there has always been and remains a conflict of interest. Until a few years ago, Mayor Hayward insisted that the CRA staff worked for him notwithstanding that this would violate state law because among many reasons the Mayor is not a member of the CRA’s governing body and exercises no authority over it or its staff. However, one group thought that Bruce Beach was important to the CRA. The Urban Core Redevelopment Advisory Committee that met 15 times in 2012 carefully reviewed the future of Bruce Beach. The URAC Final Report discusses Bruce Beach in detail on pages 42-44 and also on page 76. Bruce Beach is described as “one of Pensacola’s greatest assets.” Very, very oddly, the URAC Final Report makes no mention of a “fish hatchery.” That makes no sense. In June 2011, Mayor Hayward strong-armed the City Council into giving him the administrative authority to negotiate a proposed lease for a fish hatchery on Bruce Beach. It would be interesting to know if the URAC was ever briefed on the fish hatchery scheme or if they were kept in the dark perhaps because such an idea would be so at odds with the rest of their recommendations mostly ignored to date. From my perspective, I would think that the future of Bruce Beach would significantly impact the financial health of the CRA for two reasons. First, as Mr. Studer has pointed out, the wrong type of development, such as a fish hatchery, could slow redevelopment efforts in the west side of the Urban Core CRA. Second, the right kind of development such as one described in the URAC Final Report emphasizing public access to the waterfront could add-value to nearby future projects on the north side of Main Street. As even a third option, if Bruce Beach were developed as a private property with a tenant made to pay the full value of leasing the land and developing a major project, there would be a significant increase in property tax revenues (city and county) to benefit the Urban Core CRA. Frankly, I am surprised that the City Council members whose districts are included within the Urban Core CRA (Districts 4, 6 and 7) have never raised this last point.

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