By Wesley Martin
On Monday, Pensacola’s Mayor Ashton Hayward held a Town Hall meeting at the Vickrey Community Center.
“I think everyone knows how passionate I’ve been about cleaning our city,” he said to a room full of city residents. “We can talk about jobs and how important they are, especially in today’s hard economic times, but if you don’t have an attractive city, it’s going to be very hard to compete to get business here.”
The first-term mayor said he didn’t want to attack his position like others have in the past.
“We all know in 2009 there was a referendum for a new strong form of government,” he said. “Now you have that. We can work together to create value to the city of Pensacola.
But aside from beautification efforts and changes in protocol, some citizens left the meeting with questions unanswered.
Floyd Armstrong, City of Pensacola resident, asked, “Has anyone done an analysis on our return for our investment for Maritime Park?”
Armstrong also added, “I wanted them to go more in-depth as to what’s in it for the taxpayers and citizens of the city because we’re on the hook for the park. If that park goes belly up, we’re on the hook for it.”
Though the mayor believes the Maritime Park will help contribute to the local economy, he says he’s working with his staff as well as other elected officials to improve the job market.
“We’re going after businesses … all industries,” Hayward reiterated. We’re working with the state of Florida on a federal level to attract businesses. It’s a big challenge, but this is the first time I think Pensacola has truly said ‘if we’re going to survive, in the market place today, we’ve got to go out and work together.’”