By Jacqueline Miles
(Part 2) Economic Development was a prominent issue for Mayor Hayward. “Government doesn’t create jobs but we create the environment for people to be able to have an opportunity. We want to make the city attractive.” Another unique project on his agenda is the fish hatchery. The fish hatchery is tentatively scheduled to be built next to the Bruce Beach site, which was where African Americans would go to swim. The beach also hosted a pool where many young Blacks learned to swim. “This project was the first thing I went after when I first became Mayor. I felt that if we went after and secured those dollars, we would have an opportunity to have research for everybody; the children, the community. Our children are so important, no matter what your race, it’s important to get close to the water to figure out what you can do in research in order to change your life. We have to celebrate our culture because in the end, that makes people more open-minded. And being a part of Bruce Beach will give everybody an opportunity – from K thru 12, UWF, Pensacola Christian, etc.- to tell that story.”
“It’s very important to know history. I think that any smart person, no matter what your race, loves history and culture.” Keith Wilkerson, (Assistant) stated. “The Mayor was adamant about the connectivity from the walkway (in the pedestrian sense all the way from Main Street through the hatchery and public availability there. So, he was running out of money on the hatchery project, so we wrote a follow-up grant to the hatchery for the bridge to go across the creek and the walkway along the shoreline with the benches and the kiosk to tell the history of Bruce Beach. It is anticipated that this project will break ground in a couple of months with the completion date in fourteen months. “
“Another thing that I’m most proud of is the three-million-dollar park (Corrine Jones). It gets back to the promises made in 2010 when I ran for office. Looking at all parks in the community being ignored, we went after a 2-million-dollar grant and when it’s finished, we will have invested 3 million dollars. It’s going to look like Admiral Mason Park.” Acknowledging that the water table is high in that area, the intent is to correct the problem (as with Admiral Mason park) and make it a place of beauty for everyone. “Government Street is the East/West corridor for Pensacola. We’ve seen the increase in value west of City Hall and we all know that’s going to be a winner.”
Since his tenure in office, Hayward has been instrumental in getting many abandoned buildings torn down and used the properties for positive use. “If you remember the Blount School building, it’s been torn down. The community held a meeting and the residents responded that they wanted single family residents there. So, now there is going to be new homes available for that area.”
On the subject about our port, it was determined that because of the major ports in Mobile and Panama City, we were no longer a port city so instead this administration is focusing on clean energy and the natural gas sector. A long term lease was put into place in 2010 with Offshore Inland, who was focused on the Gulf Region. At the time oil was around $100 a barrel but since then it’s dropped tremendously.
“After all of the mitigating factors, it was determined that the market has changed for us. And Pensacola was no longer a ‘Port’ town,” stated Hayward. “So, realizing that we were the third largest state and with a population of approximately 50,000 people in Pensacola, people are coming to our town because of the lifestyle we offer and South Florida is so populated and congested. We shifted our focus to attract new residents. We sit on the I-10 corridor and we now have to look at our city differently. I am not going to throw good money after bad with the Port going into the red. It’s been in the black since I’ve been in office so I want to look intelligently into where we are going with the Port.”
When it comes to education in the community, there is a “pilot program” the mayor is working closely with the Superintendent of Schools to bring education through field trips to the hatchery and research centers for young children through college in order to give them an awakening or exposure as to what their possibilities are. “Education is everything. IQ doesn’t know borders. IQ crosses borders. So, no matter where you grow up you have to have the same opportunities to be exposed to having an education.” He stated. “I want to open up our city for many possibilities. That is the critical path that I don’t think we’ve done a good enough job in our community. When it comes to our children, every parent feels their child deserves an opportunity no matter what the socio-economics are.”
When asked, Since you’ve been in office and have made accomplishment and had uphill battles, would you do it all over again? His reply was, “Yes, most definitely. God has plans for everybody. When making the decision to run, doors were opened for me. I’m a good catholic and I believe everything happens for a reason. I had my faith, my family, my friends. We’ve done a lot of things for our community; the town I grew up in.”
In making the playing field even for our community, to your knowledge, how many African Americans have you hired on your staff? He replied, “At lot. We have on our management team not only African Americans, but also women. In as far as the staff of City Hall, there too have been many hires. I believe in diversity. If you recall, we hired our first African American Chief of Police. Unfortunately, because of the Drop Program, he had to retire. Listen, my job as mayor is to be fair with everyone. It’s impossible to make an exception for one when I’ve received requests from others to make exceptions.”
“One of the most important things we should get is you can have the best strategy in the world but if the culture is not with you, you are not going to move anything. And people are thirsty to be successful. One of the things I am proud of the most is the inclusivity we have brought to our office.”
“A Disparity Study was done and as a result, a MBE program was implemented and we just need more people to show up and be a part of it.”
Many programs have been implemented including 311 for the community to call for anything that needs to be repaired or just request garbage pickup if missed.
Should you decide to run for Mayor for the third term, what would be your priority? “I’ve learned so much. This city being a small city, it’s important for people to be able to feel as if they know me. I’m not untouchable. Going forward, I think it’s important for people to know we are going forward on the right path and we are one of the safest cities in Florida or America for that matter. We do have crime; every city has crime. But this city being an old city, we are finally headed in the right direction where the people have a voice and I would continue down that path. The world has changed. Globalization has hit us in the head. Technology is on the rise and people have access. They just want to know they are part of the deal and I would continue to build on all of the results we have.”