North Hill asks to meet with ECUA board on sewage tanks

The Emerald Coast Utility Authority has purchased the old Medical Center Clinic building on north Palafox Street, inside the Pensacola city limits. At a public forum Tuesday night, the utility revealed its plans to build two multimillion-gallon sewage tanks on the property.

Melanie Nichols, president of the North Hill homeowners’ association, has sent an email requesting another meeting with the ECUA Board. The group is concerned that last night’s meeting didn’t allow for public input from the residents.

Dear ECUA Board Members,

The North Hill Preservation Association respectfully requests another meeting to address this issue because our residents were not all able to successfully hear the answers from staff at last night’s meeting or have the ability to ask their questions due to the format.

The meeting was run in a FDOT format with easels and staff at close stations. That would have probably worked better for a much, much, smaller group of residents. Our group was standing room only and you couldn’t see or hear unless you were right up front. Also, FDOT uses a system of cards whereby citizens can write down their questions and have the answers sent to them if they aren’t able to be answered at the meeting. There were NO cards for our residents. Furthermore, the invitation said that “Questions will be documented”.

The engineers took no notes whatsoever of the questions and you didn’t record the meeting. Also, residents expressed great concern last night, personally, to Mr. McCorvey that there was no place for them to sit and they needed chairs due to their age or physical infirmity. No one was kind enough to help these ladies. The only chairs in the room were occupied by the greeter signing people in and Mr. McCorvey. It was very upsetting for them and to us that no one would bring them a chair when they asked for help. Had we known that you wouldn’t provide any seating, we would have brought our own chairs for our members to use.

Last night was ECUA’s first impression on many rate payers……and it was not a positive one.

During the meeting, Councilman Brian Spencer tried to express all our concerns that we all couldn’t hear the engineers’ answers and our disappointment that you chose not to use your spacious auditorium with microphones so that all could hear the engineers, hear the questions, be heard themselves, and seating for all our residents who needed it. He also asked if another meeting could be scheduled. Staff indicated “NO” and that we had to come to your board meetings.

As you know, your board meetings are held at 2 p.m. which would require most residents to take a half day off work to get there and ask their questions. Councilman Spencer asked if he could arrange the Public Library on Spring Street in our neighborhood for one evening.

Staff said that they couldn’t transport staff……even though you had no problem transporting staff across the Bay to Pensacola Beach for their public hearings. Also, the Pensacola Beach public hearings were advertised in the media. NO notice was given of last night’s meeting except by e-mail to myself and Brian Spencer. No press releases were issued to the media and it wasn’t even placed on your website, or listed on your website calendar for meetings.

The North Hill Preservation Association did our best to get the word out with three days notice, but your slide show PowerPoint presentation indicated that the potential impact area of the project was: Westpoint Heritage, Old East King Cottages, Guillemard Square, Cottages at Davis, Old East Hill and East Hill Neighborhoods (you completely left off North Hill and Long Hollow, the closest and most adjacent neighborhoods in the impact slide). How are all those other neighborhoods to learn about this project? You didn’t notify them, their neighborhood associations, their Council representatives or enlist the media’s help with a timely Press Release.

For all these reasons, I respectfully request that you schedule another meeting, also in the evening, with seating, and with a public address system so that everyone can hear the questions and answers from your engineers.

Thank you so much for your assistance,

Melanie Nichols, President
North Hill Preservation Association, Inc.