By Jeremy Morrison
The Pensacola Police Department may be getting new badges—a move meant to scrub the Confederate flag from the police uniforms. During his weekly press conference Monday morning, Mayor Grover Robinson explained that the switch would mirror similar changes made in recent years, such as the removal of the Confederate flag from the city’s five-flags line-up.
“It’ll be the same badge, but with the Florida flag instead of the Confederate flag,” Robinson said.
The mayor will present the option to the Pensacola City Council as a recommendation stemming from the Citizen Police Advisory Committee. Council will decide this week whether to pony up the funds to switch out the PPD badges, which will run $290,000 and come out of the city’s general fund’s unassigned fund balance.
“They’re not necessarily that cheap,” Robinson noted, explaining that each uniform featured two badges, one on the actual uniform and another on the accompanying hat.
If the council decides to allocate the funding, it will leave $166,732 in the unassigned fund balance.
Tippin Park Improvements
Mayor Robison is also tossing the city council another budgetary decision this week, this one concerning the planned Tippin Park Community Resource Center project with an estimated cost of $456,732—the entirety of the general fund’s unassigned fund balance.
“We don’t even know what we want to build at Tippin,” Mayor Robinson said, adding that he has thus far heard proposals to wrap numerous issues into the project: “I’ve heard that this thing is going to be everything, we’re gonna cure homelessness and solar power and we’re going to do everything else there.”
The council previously authorized a million dollars to begin the process of developing a new community center for Tippin Park. In March, an RFQ was put out for architectural services.
Mayor Robinson noted that this project is still in the very early stages and needs to go through a public input process before the project’s scope became clear. Any funding decisions at this time, he said, should be seen as preparatory.
“Any funds dedicated to Tippin Park don’t necessarily advance at this time,” Robinson said, “we’ve still got to figure out what we’re building.”
Green Game Plan?
While the Pensacola City Council recently passed a resolution committing the city to a 30 percent renewable energy goal by 2030, it remains unclear how it might meet this goal. Asked about his plans on this front, Mayor Robinson said the effort would consist of renewable energy initiatives and expansion of natural gas usage.
“Some of it will certainly be looking at renewable energy, but some of it will be what we can do with Pensacola Energy,” Robinson said, referring to the natural gas company the city owns and operates.
He said the city would be partnering with Gulf Power and smaller solar power businesses. He mentioned that perhaps city parking lots could be utilized.
“It becomes a heat island,” he said of the expanses of asphalt. “It’d be perfect for collecting sun.”
Insofar as the natural gas goes, the mayor said that the city would look to convert more of its commercial vehicle fleet to natural gas, with the municipally-owned Pensacola Energy being the key element to this effort: “It sort of works for us.”
Robinson also said Sustainability Coordinator Mark Jackson is still working on assessing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions and developing a plan to decrease those emissions. Jackson was supposed to make a presentation concerning the city’s greenhouse gas emissions to the city council this month, but the mayor said that he now expects that presentation to occur “sometime this summer.”
“He’s still collecting all the data. It’s fairly significant; it’s a little bit more than he thought,” Robinson said.