Hayward wins hatchery dispute, lawsuit dismissed

Late yesterday afternoon, Judge Joel Boles dismissed with prejudice the lawsuit by Dan Lindemann and Jerry Holzworth regarding the validity of a lease between the City of Pensacola and Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission that would allow a fish hatchery to be built on Bruce Beach. “Dismissing with prejudice” means the judgment is final, and Lindemann and Holzworth are barred from bringing an action on the same claim.

The decision is a victory for Mayor Ashton Hayward who has fought for the hatchery since 2011–his first year in office. The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission will lease the 44.5 acres on Pensacola Bay for $50 a year and will build a hatchery that will employ 10-12 people.

The hatchery, named the “Gulf Coast Marine Fisheries Hatchery and Enhancement Center,” will have a visitor center where school children can observe the tanks. It will have four historical markers, at cost of $2,000 each, that will be part of the University of West Florida Historic Trust’s Maritime Heritage Trail. The markers will denote environmental changes on the site, such as the covering over of Washerwoman’s Creek, the history of the Tanyard Neighborhood, the site’s use as a dry dock, and
a sign will tell of the site’s use by the African-American community.

The plans show a pedestrian bridge as an option that would connect the site with the rest of the city’s waterfront. The public has been told another grant application has been submitted to build a kayak launch and other public access to Bruce Beach.

The fish hatchery, with its $18-million construction and operating budget, will be the biggest project that Mayor Hayward has brought to downtown Pensacola during his time in office.


3 thoughts on “Hayward wins hatchery dispute, lawsuit dismissed

  1. Obviously, the plaintiffs can presumably appeal the court’s ruling and should. Of note, when the lawsuit was filed, it preempted an in-progress effort by Councilwoman Sherri Myers to direct City Attorney Lysia Bowling to render a legal opinion on behalf of the City of Pensacola laying out her formal views on the many legal issues in play. I have not seen and so not read the ruling but presume that the court dismissed the case on the basis that the two plaintiffs lack of standing as City of Pensacola/Pensacola Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA)/.Urban Core Community Redevelopment “Area” property owners with no right to compel the City Council and CRA to comply with city policies, rules, regulations and plans with respect to Bruce Beach. If the issue is “standing” then now would be the time for Councilwoman/CRA Commissioner Sherri Myers to do as she told me last year she was willing to do and have Robert Emmanuel file a similar lawsuit on her behalf using her dual standing as a City Council member and CRA Board Commissioner. Another option would be for Myers to do as she wanted to do last year and get the City Council, and perhaps even the CRA because it is a separate legal entity, to make the City Attorney (Lysia Bowling) and CRA Attorney (Doug Sales) render legal opinions addressing the City and CRA views on the legal issues at issue to include a City Council resolution that Mayor Hayward claims his election nullified and that vested the power to decide the fate of Bruce Beach in the hands of the CRA now led by CRA Commissioner P.C. Wu with Myers as its Vice Chairperson. Once that is done, and we can reasonably anticipate that Bowling will stick to her usual practice of providing a legal opinion that skillfully avoids addressing the legal issues and muddies up the waters enough to create confusion in the minds of at least the four most easily confused City Council members, Myers can ask the City Council to direct the City Attorney to seek an Advisory Legal Opinion from Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Myers might also or concurrently ask the CRA’s legal counsel Doug Sale to do the same. There is a laundry list of state issues here because it is a state law that gives the City Council the power to adopt resolutions and describes how it must be done and state law regulations the operation of the CRA created by ordinance, a city law that state law empowers to adopt using the state law process described in Section 166.041, Florida Statutes. In my mind, the key legal issue is the gatekeeper issue about the legal effect of the City Council resolution that vested the power to decide the fate of Bruce Beach in the hands of the CRA. If Bondi rules that the resolution is valid, and Hayward has argued that his election nullified it and a lot of other city laws and city policies too, then the ball is fully in the CRA’s court. The CRA could restart the process and then approve the lease. If it did, Myers could presumably file a lawsuit challenging the CRA’s violation of its own plan, if that is what happens. Myers an attorney told me last year that she would have standing to file such a lawsuit and I believe her.

  2. It would be so nice if just once the residents of the Tanyard had a say on what we would like our community…
    But everything is just shoved down our throats.
    The neighborhood association voted -NO hatchery! We wanted full public access to the water… crickets..
    Now we will have a industrial hatchery on public land. (BTW – has any lease money been collected from the FWC?)
    Storm water park – we said no.. year after after year of diesel pumps running 24 hours a days, 7 days a week, and it still has sand bags around it to keep storm water out..
    But when we ask to help with OUR street and property flooding issues – the answer is… well it has always flooded down there….
    When we ask for traffic calming to keep our children safe.. deaf ears..
    When we ask for walkable sidewalks and crosswalks… dead air..
    …. we are mearly taxpayers with no say….
    Very ugly and we won’t forget…
    P.S. for those of you that use Main Street to exit or come into the city… this hatchery will add trucks, trucks and more trucks… enjoy the parking lot.
    So, this is the “upside..” not so much.

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