April 21 Committee of the Whole meeting notes:
Divisions over east versus west side Pensacola projects surfaced again Monday during a discussion about Penny for Progress funds. In particular, Councilman Robert Townsend compared the lack of improvements in West Pensacola to $350,000 for the Roger Scott Tennis Center and monies for the Tyron Branch Library and the Saenger Theatre.
“You need to realize that residents on the west side pay taxes, too. So we want some of this action,” Townsend said. “You’re looking at two cities, folks. Take some dollars from Roger Scott, where they’re running around and hitting tennis balls, and we don’t even have a tennis court on the west side.”
In rebuttal, Councilman Mike DeSorbo asked, “Why always Roger Scott? How many millions went into Legion Park? I get tired of this east side/west side.”
“When you talk about Legion Field…you need to show me that,” Townsend said to DeSorbo, who had also suggested the east side pays more in taxes.
All members were present at the committee meetings. The Community Redevelopment Agency was the only group that did not meet.
Also during the Committee of the Whole, when Penny for Progress funds were discussed, Deputy Mayor John Jerralds asked council members to move forward with a new Woodland Heights Community Center. “So finally, during our lifetime, a community center is established in that neighborhood.”
“We’ve got some projects we can get started on now,” said Councilman Jack Nobles, who added they can address the community center issues later.
Jerralds made a motion, which died for lack of a second, to combine the funds for a Westside Community Center with a possible library and Woodland Heights, all of which City Parks and Recreation Director Dave Flaherty had proposed.
Jerralds called the proposal of several centers a “competitive” move that “was likely to put us where we are today.”
Councilman P.C. Wu said he would have a hard time opening new centers when others are being closed. However, “Does the west side deserve something? Yes.”
“My fear is that we will end up with what we have in Woodland Heights now–which is absolutely nothing,” Jerralds said.
Nobles suggested listing the community center under “unfunded projects, so it won’t disappear.”
Jerralds and Councilman Sam Hall indicated they weren’t ready to approve the capital projects list as it is, but they are prepared to go through it line by line. Councilman Mike Wiggins suggested they wait and see what the local option sales tax revenues do.
“To me, the police vehicles are the first priority…” Councilman Marty Donovan said.
Councilwoman Jewel Cannada-Wynn suggested an assessment to see what kind of longevity can be gotten out of the police cars, especially considering some in the department drive them home. Cannada-Wynn also noted Woodland Heights residents haven’t been asked what kind of community center they want.
In the end, all members but Jerralds voted for the Penny for Progress capital projects list.
Also at the meeting, representatives from the Pensacola Little Theatre and Cultural Center again attended to ask for $250,000 to help with air conditioning and other repairs to the facility.
And Hall again asked for members’ support. The motion died for lack of a second.
Other business included the finance committee unanimously approving renewing property insurance through Public Risk Insurance Agency.
Members also unanimously approved an issuance of debt of up to $4,750,000 by the Pensacola-Escambia Promotion and Development Commission for the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition. The applicant fee and the requirement for audited financial statements will also be waived.
The following are among other items at the meeting that passed unanimously: an Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemption for Gulf Coast Property Group, LLC ; streetscape improvements on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive; and an amendment to the existing agreement with Bullock Tice Associates for civil engineering services for Fire Station #6 with Penny for Progress funds used to buy a heavy rescue unit for that station.
Also approved: The purchase and installation of a pre-cast concrete restroom and concession building system for the Roger Scott Athletic Complex for $160,800 plus a 10 percent contingency; and the construction of a prefabricated metal storage building at Roger Scott for $75,000 plus a 10 percent contingency.
The Enterprise Operations committee unanimously approved replacing regulators (lighting) at Pensacola Regional Airport, where the firm Michael G. Moroney & Associates was also given a yearlong work authorization to provide financial and general advisory services. A FAA grant application for more than $2.9 million was also approved.
A contract with Green-Simmons Co. Inc. was approved for the construction of the Tyron Branch Library on Langley Avenue for a total cost of more than $2.2 million plus a 10 percent contingency.
The committee also approved a resolution to establish an inventory list of city-owned property determined appropriate for use as affordable housing.
Lastly, the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce will serve as the banker for $1.6 million the U.S. Department of Homeland Security gave the Port of Pensacola. Most ports received funds.
Nobles asked if the funds can be used for security at City Hall.
“Probably not,” said an official, who added that’s not national security-related but he’ll check into it.
“Can Frank (Miller) use some of the money?” Nobles asked. “He’s about broke out there at the airport.”