Presser Notes: Benches, Poll Volunteers and the Golden Spike
by Jeremy Morrison, Inweekly
Pointing to downward trending stats on the coronavirus front, Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson said Monday that things are heading in the right direction.
“Our numbers are down, our positivity is down, our hospitalizations are down,” the mayor said.
During his weekly press conference, Robinson noted Escambia County’s more-than 10,000 cases, but stressed the states 8.2 percent positive test rate and, particularly, the declining number of local hospitalizations.
“Yesterday was our lowest that we’ve had in four weeks,” Robinson said, citing Sunday’s hospitalization stat of 171 hospitalizations. “As long as we can keep it consistently under 200 we are headed in the right direction.”
Aside from this week’s COVID-rundown, topics during Monday’s presser included downtown park benches, the bay bridge walking path and election volunteerism.
Benches Will Return
Recently, concerns were raised about the removal of benches in Martin Luther King, Jr., Plaza along South Palafox downtown. It was surmised that perhaps the benches had been removed to discourage the gathering of homeless people in the plaza.
Mayor Robinson said this was not the case and that the city was simply performing maintenance on the benches.
“They are being refurbished,” he said. “They will be back.”
In the past, city officials have attempted to address the use of park benches as places for people to sleep by passing ordinances aimed at the homeless. Robinson stressed that the current removal of the benches along MLK plaza only for refurbishing purposes only.
“The park benches will be back,” he said. “We expect to have them back more comfortable and ready for you to use.”
The multi-use path along the Pensacola Bay Bridge is opening. Finally.
Mayor Robinson said Monday that the path — for use by pedestrians and cyclists — is illustrative of the type of amenities he wants to see in Pensacola.
“I’m excited,” the mayor said. “I think it’s awesome. This is the kind of stuff we’re talking about — the amenities that are going to come forward that are going to make us more walkable, more bikeable.”
The bay bridge spans Pensacola Bay, connecting the city of Pensacola to Gulf Breeze. Mayor Robinson said he was reaching out to Gulf Breeze officials to see if they might be up for walking halfway across the bridge’s multi-use path to meet him in the middle — a nod towards the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroad meet-up in 1869 — to celebrate its opening.
“Like the golden spike in the middle,” Robinson said.
Volunteering for the Vote
In the upcoming elections this year, in the primary this month and general in November, officials are forecasting a shortage of poll place volunteers due to the coronavirus. These are the folks that facilitate elections on the ground level and without them such events become a logistical conundrum.
“Obviously, their normal volunteers are in a age group that is vulnerable with COVID,” Mayor Robinson said Monday, noting how many election volunteers are older, retired individuals with the time to contribute.
The mayor said that the city is looking to assist Escambia County Election Supervisor David Stafford in his mission and so city employees are being encouraged to volunteer as local poll workers.
“We recognize, in COVID, everyone is stretched,” Robinson said, explaining that city employees who volunteer as poll workers will also receive their normal pay during any time away due to the volunteer activity.