By: Greg Fink
Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward recently appointed the newly formed Urban Redevelopment Advisory Committee as a consultative board to the mayor’s office, city council and Pensacola’s Community Redevelopment Agency.
Interestingly, some city council members have ambivalent feelings toward the new entity.
“What I am concerned with is the balance of power according to the Pensacola city charter,” said city councilwoman Megan Pratt (District 9). “I do not think that the mayor has the authority to develop this committee or commission on his own accord.”
Citing low funds in the CRA’s budget as well as within the city’s, Pratt believes the new committee’s purpose is pointless, redundant and wasteful.
“I am really concerned about another group we did not appoint continuing to have meetings about issues that are already being handled by current committees in Pensacola government. On top of that, we do not have the monies to fund any more initiatives brought by another committee.”
Pensacola Mayor Chief of Staff, John Asmar, rebutted. “This committee is no different then the Port Advisory committee or the Pension fund committee and it does comply with the charter,” he said.
Additionally, Asmar stated that one of the primary goals of the committee was to implement ideas for incentives regarding the needed construction of affordable housing.
“Affordable housing is key to bringing businesses to Pensacola,” he said. “We have 50 acres of shovel ready land just a few blocks away from city hall. We are ready to grow and this committee will help advise up toward the right direction for growth and economic development.”
According to city documents, some of the goals for the task-force is: Build a community that is competitive in today’s economy; Replenish the income of the CRA through new capital investment; Make productive use of the large inventory of public land; Create jobs and a sustainable future for this community; Create a walkable community by increasing mixed-use density; Insure that opportunities created and resources expended will benefit all; Create a waterfront that is a thriving public space; Create housing with a wide spectrum of affordability; Restore the value of the authentic, historic character of downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods.
According to Asmar, no additional funding will be needed for the implementation of this committee.
For more information about learning more about this new committee as well as the future of economic development in urban Pensacola region please visit www.cityofpensacola.com.