Fish Hatchery lease to be cancelled

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has requested the City of Pensacola terminate its $50/year lease to build a fish hatchery on Bruce Beach, according to a press release issued by the mayor’s office.

In a statement that accompanied the request, the FWC said the decision was based on the lack of community support for building the facility at Bruce Beach. The commission said the protracted legal battles over the lease and whether city officials followed city policies had a “significant financial impact.”

“Going forward, FWC will work other state and federal trustees on the Florida Trustee Implementation Group to seek an alternative site for this $18.7 million project as currently designed.” said FWC officials.

The FWC thanked Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward for his support: “Lastly, we are indebted to Mayor Hayward for his vision and stalwart support for this project during the nearly 8-year planning and design period.”

Mayor Hayward’s written statement: ““We appreciate our relationship with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and will continue to work with FWC on other opportunities that will bring value to our region.Our goal has always been to activate the waterfront. I know that our community has other visionary ideas for the Bruce Beach site and I am confident that we can achieve our goal in a way that will turn out to be a win for our community.”


Note: FWC has had the $18.7 million of the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) funds for over four years. The lease agreement was signed in May 2014. The legal battle over the lease arose because the FWC failed to make sure construction began three years after execution of the lease. The financial impact of those delays isn’t known.

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6 thoughts on “Fish Hatchery lease to be cancelled

  1. You are correct. The only thing Ashton needs to think about is what he is going to have for dinner tonight.

  2. I’m sure the State will find a new home for the Fish hatchery in another community and it will be a huge success leaving everyone to wonder why didn’t they build it here…lol… Just like they did with that crazy idea of an Naval Aviation Museum which they wanted to build downtown… madness!

  3. The City Council’s court jester District 3 Councilman Andy Terhaar had a comment in late 2015 just before the city voted to violate two state laws and a city law that sums up the problem. Terhaar exclaimed, “Sometimes there are things more important than procedures.” If the placement of an industrial fish hatchery was ever a good idea, and I never saw any evidence that it was, Hayward could have asked the CRA Board (the City Council members) to amend the CRA plan to allow for industrial uses. He then could have recommended that the CRA authorize him to enter into negotiations on their behalf with FWC to bring forward a proposal. He did none of the above. Instead, he fired CRA Executive Director Thaddeus Cohen to get him out of the way (and later CRA Administrator Becky Bray too). State law expressly authorizes the CRA to hire its own staff and neither state law nor any city law or policy gave Hayward the unilateral power to fire Cohen (in his role as CRA Executive Director) or Bray who only worked for the CRA. Hayward then jammed the proposal down the throats of the admittedly overly eager City Council. By design, the public was given almost no notice as Councilwoman Megan Pratt pointed out when objecting and asking that the vote on the project be delayed three days to the regular Thursday night meeting when the public would have more notice and could provide substantive input. Instead, public input was limited to about six minutes total. All along the way, anyone on the City Council could have taken certain steps to challenge the process but did not. Not one single City Council member (all of whom have a separate duty as CRA “commissions”) ever made a motion to challenge the City’s usurpation of the CRA’s authority. The CRA certainly knew all about the fish hatchery as they were briefed in detail. The City Council/CRA members were simply afraid to do anything. The fact that this bad idea was finally killed is a testament to the power of citizens like Dan Lindemann and Jerry Holzworth who stood up to our corrupt city government and won.

  4. Now everyone better beware of “another bright idea” that commits the taxpayers before he is voted out of office.

  5. Another failed development by the Mayor. Why didn’t city follow-through on construction commencement.

  6. It was clear that a majority of the PEOPLE/CITIZENS did not want this hatchery downtown. So thank you FWC for helping us dodge another Wayward bullet.

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