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  PBA uses this blog to post individual articles from our monthly newsletters. Members can comment on these articles.
  • 07/21/2016 9:55 AM | Anonymous

    Sea Turtle Baby Shower Celebrates Beach’s Newest Wildlife

    Meet Mia the Mermaid or take the Sea Turtle Oath at the Sea Turtle Baby Shower, Saturday, August 13 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Pensacola Beach’s Landshark Landing. It’s a celebration of Pensacola Beach’s sea turtles. Learn about the mama turtle who returns to her birth place, Pensacola Beach, to lay her nest and the tiny hatchlings who emerge and head for the Gulf of Mexico. Make your own sea turtle ornament and touch a real turtle shell. There will be contests, games, performances, educational kiosks, give-aways, art vendors and a prize basket drawing. The event will take place at Landshark Landing, which is located on Fort Pickens Road on the Margaritaville Beach Hotel property.  

    If all the fun makes you thirsty, stop by the water booth to purchase a Turtles Dig the Dark souvenir reusable cup filled with ice cold water. Proceeds benefit the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Marine Conservation Center.

    The event is sponsored by the Pensacola Beach Advocates, Holiday Inn Express, Margaritaville Beach Hotel and Emerald Coast Utilities Authority.

    For more details, go to www.pbadvocates.org or call 850-916-6971.

    EVENT SCHEDULE

    2:00    Opening ceremony, Sea Turtle Oath; All Booths, Games, Vendors Open

    2:30    1-2-3 Nest Youth Challenge

    3:00    1-2-3 Nest Celebrity Challenge

    3:30    Meg the Mermaid

    4:00    Baby Bath Clean Water demo

    4:30    Sea Turtle Survivor 

    5:00    Closing Ceremonies; All Booths, Games, Vendors Close

    TurtleBabyShower flyer 8.5x11 2016.pdf



  • 05/12/2016 1:24 PM | Anonymous

    by Melissa Nelson Gabriel, PNJ.com, 5/12/16

    A Florida appeals court Wednesday rejected Escambia County's request to rehear a case prohibiting the county from collecting property taxes on 12 acres of Pensacola Beach land where two Portofino resort towers are proposed.

    Escambia County Property Appraiser Chris Jones said the county will ask the Florida Supreme Court to review the case.

    "We are disappointed that the court has decided not to allow a rehearing on this important issue for Escambia County and for beach residents. We knew it was going to be a long shot, but we were hoping they would reconsider," Jones said.

    Jones said county attorneys are continuing to review the case and are working to determine what it means for other beach property owners.

    The ruling is the latest development in years of litigation over the complicated lease system Escambia County has used for decades to allow residential and commercial development on Santa Rosa Island. The barrier island was deeded by the federal government to the county in the aftermath of World War II. Under the deed agreement, the county is restricted from selling the land outright.

    Edward Fleming, an attorney for developer Island Resorts, called Wednesday's decision a win for all Pensacola Beach property owners.

    "It has set a precedent for the entire beach," he said.

    Island Resorts has proposed two towers that would become part of the Portofino development.

    At issue in the appeals case is whether the county can collect property taxes on land that is leased.

    In overturning an earlier decision by Escambia County Circuit Judge Edward Nickinson, Florida's 1st District Court of Appeal said in March that Island Resorts should not be required to pay property taxes because it does not own the land.

    "The appellant is not the equitable owner of the leased land," the ruling stated. "The appellant bears all the burdens during the term of the lease, at the end which all rights revert to the lessor."

    Jones said a complicating factor is that various county attorneys have used different language in beach lease agreements over the last 70 years. Jones said subtle differences in the lease language about the terms of renewal could create differences in how a court looks at whether the land is subject to property taxes.

    "What could be created is two different classes of leaseholders. You might have language that is almost identical to your neighbors, but the result could be different because of a very subtle difference in the renewal language on the lease," he said.

    Jones said the county hopes the state Supreme Court will provide clarity on the issue.

    According to the appellate court ruling, finite leases, which are not perpetually renewed, are not subject to property taxes. Previous rulings have stated that perpetually renewable leases are subject to the taxes.

    If the ruling is not overturned by the Supreme Court, Escambia County would have to repay more than $450,000 in property taxes paid by the developer since 2011. Other litigation could be affected if the Supreme Court upholds the decision. Fleming has filed similar appeals involving $8.3 million in property taxes paid by Portofino and $2.1 million paid by Beach Club Resort.

    Levin Rinke Realty recently sponsored an educational meeting for beach property owners about the complicated issue. Fleming and attorney Todd Harris answered questions from dozens of property owners during the event. Fleming said additional educational meetings are planned.

    For a link to the original article click here.





  • 02/25/2016 9:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Pensacola Beach Advocates' Beachkeepers will hosts its 2nd annual Eco Happy Hour on Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Pensacola Beach Community Church's Fellowship Hall from 3:30pm to 6:30pm.

    Come sip and socialize and enjoy eco-friendly information along with tips on how to protect our beach and preserve it's wildlife. The line-up of presenters include:

    -ECUA
    -Florida Sea Grant
    -Garden Gate
    -Ocean Hour
    -SRIA
    -National Park Service
    -Florida Audubon
    -Escambia County Marine Resources
    -Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center

    The prizes are bigger and better than last year. You will be able to test your knowledge with the Eco Quiz and be entered to win a free night on the beach from Days Inn. Bring a bag of Mardi Gras beads to be recycled and you will receive an additional raffle drawing ticket.  Spend a little time and effort picking up some beach trash and you will be entered to win a 2 night stay at the beach from Resort Quest.


  • 12/14/2015 1:52 PM | Anonymous

    From Staff Reports, PNJ.com, 12/14/15: 

    Emerald Coast Utilities Authority is hosting a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Santa Rosa Island Authority to inform the community of proposed expansion of its reclaimed water system on Pensacola Beach. The proposal entails constructing a 2.4-million gallon storage tank and pumping station in the same vicinity as the three potable tanks on the beach.

    Tim Haag, ECUA director of governmental affairs, said the five-phase reclaimed water system will cost an estimated $3.9 million. Northwest Florida Water Management District awarded a $425,000 grant to ECUA for the construction of the storage tank and pumping station with the requirement that the initial phase be completed by October of 2017. ECUA already budget $1.5 million for the project and another $1.6 million will be coming over the next six years. The utilities company will seek additional grant funds through the RESTORE Act process.

    ECUA initially proposed constructing a 750,000-gallon storage tank and pumping station in an area south of the Via de Luna tennis courts and north of the walking oval, near Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church and Pensacola Beach Elementary School. The estimated cost for that five-phase system was $3.1 million.

    At a public meeting last month, the beach community voiced its frustration with the selected location and the limited potential benefit of installing a storage tank that only holds 750,000 gallons. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of discharge would still flow into the Sound on peak days.

    The current ECUA reclaimed water system provides irrigation water only to the Santa Rosa Island Authority for a limited portion of the Via De Luna Right-of-Way. The ECUA potable water system provides the majority of water currently used for irrigation on the beach.

    The Island Authority uses about 10 to 15 percent of the reclaimed water for irrigation with the remainder discharged into the Sound from the treatment plant. Haag said the Island Authority typically pays $3,000 to $3,500 for reclaimed irrigation water, an estimated savings of about $10,000 from the potable rate for the same amount of water. He said the utilities company is exploring how to provide reclaimed water to beach residents, too.

    For the original article, click here.
  • 12/10/2015 8:54 AM | Anonymous

    (PNJ 12/10/15, Thomas St. Myer

    A public backlash from its initial proposal last month sent Emerald Coast Utilities Authority back to the drawing board for potential expansion of itsPensacola Beach reclaimed water system.

    ECUA unveiled a modified proposal Wednesday night at the Santa Rosa Island Authority board meeting with a new location for a storage tank capable of holding three times the amount of water initially proposed and with the potential to further reduce discharge into the Santa Rosa Sound.

    The utilities company is proposing to construct a 2.4-million gallon storage tank and pumping station in the same vicinity as the three potable tanks on the beach. The Island Authority board unanimously approved a public meeting for ECUA to discuss its modified proposal at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Island Authority facility.

    Terry Preston, of Pensacola Beach Advocates, credited the utilities company for addressing public concerns with the modified proposal. Preston ultimately favors moving the ECUA plant off the island entirely, but she said the new proposed site fits with what is already on the beach.

    "My preference would be to tell everybody out here you can only plant drop-resistant, salt-resistant stuff," Preston said, "but if we're going to allow them to plant soil and they're going to throw water on it, I'd rather use reclaimed water than potable water."

    Tim Haag, ECUA director of governmental affairs, said the five-phase reclaimed water system will cost an estimated $3.9 million. Northwest Florida Water Management District awarded a $425,000 grant to ECUA for the construction of the storage tank and pumping station with the requirement that the initial phase be completed by October of 2017. ECUA already budget $1.5 million for the project and another $1.6 million will be coming over the next six years. The utilities company will seek additional grant funds through the RESTORE Act process.

    ECUA initially proposed constructing a 750,000-gallon storage tank and pumping station in an area south of the Via De Luna tennis courts and north of the walking oval, near Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church and Pensacola Beach Elementary School. The estimated cost for that five-phase system was $3.1 million.

    At a public meeting last month, the beach community voiced its frustration with the selected location and the limited potential benefit of installing a storage tank that only holds 750,000 gallons. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of discharge would still flow into the Sound on peak days.

    The fact only the Island Authority and commercial property leaseholders stood to benefit from reclaimed water system expansion further alienated the beach community.

    The current ECUA reclaimed water system provides irrigation water only to the Santa Rosa Island Authority for a limited portion of the Via De Luna Right-of-Way. The ECUA potable water system provides the majority of water currently used for irrigation on the beach.

    The Island Authority uses about 10 to 15 percent of the reclaimed water for irrigation with the remainder discharged into the Sound from the treatment plant. Haag said the Island Authority typically pays $3,000 to $3,500 for reclaimed irrigation water, an estimated savings of about $10,000 from the potable rate for the same amount of water. He said the utilities company is exploring how to provide reclaimed water to beach residents, too.

    The possibility of moving the ECUA plant off the island dominated a significant portion of the conversation Wednesday. Haag estimated the total cost for that project to be in the $50-million ballpark. ECUA board member Dale Perkins said that is perhaps a possibility someday, but at $50 million, that is a long ways from being feasible.

    "If we were to tell everybody in the county that has say an ECUA account, we're going to add $4,000 to your bill and we'll let you pay it over time to move that plant, we'd have a full meeting," Perkins said. "Or if we told everybody on the beach, we're just going to confine it to the beach, but everybody on the beach we're going to have an MSBU of $30,000 and we'll take that thing off the beach, we'd have a full meeting. There would be objections to that."

    To read the original article, click here.

  • 10/16/2015 1:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    ECUA’s current wastewater treatment plant on the Beach produces approximately daily approximately 800,000 gallons of reclaimed water.  About 10-15% is currently used for irrigation and the rest is discharged into the Santa Rosa Sound.  Instead of discharging the majority of the reclaimed water and using potable water from the mainland for irrigation, ECUA is in the planning stages of extending the reclaimed water system on Pensacola Beach so that more cheaper reclaimed water may be used for irrigation.  A reclaimed water storage tank is necessary for this transition.

    The current planned location for the storage tank is between the Catholic Church and the elementary school. 

    ECUA will host a town hall meeting related to the proposed storage tank and pumping station for the ECUA reclaimed water system on Pensacola Beach.  The meeting is scheduled for Nov. 3, 2015, at 6:30 pm in the SRIA Board Room.


  • 10/04/2015 9:08 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Pensacola Beach is changing.  Management of some core services of the Santa Rosa Island Authority (SRIA) have been moved to Escambia County. These include Public Works (maintenance) and Public Safety (lifeguards). Residential and Commercial lease fees have been cut in half.  What should the future look like?

    This survey is designed to collect your thoughts and preferences for mapping the future of Pensacola Beach. Deadline for response is October 22, 2015

         The initial survey had an error.  Please take the revised survey now: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Q888RYX


  • 09/21/2015 10:20 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Escambia County District 4 Commissioner Grover Robinson will host a town hall meeting on Tuesday, October 13, 2015, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Santa Rosa Island Authority conference room (1 Via De Luna Drive).

    Residents are invited and encouraged to attend the meeting, which will include several key County staffers.


  • 09/14/2015 10:10 AM | Anonymous

    (by Thomas St. Myer, Pensacola News Journal): 

    Just three days after the Board of County Commissioners shed some light on its feelings about the uncertain future of the Santa Rosa Island Authority, the Pensacola Beach Advocates will host a meeting at 6 p.m. Monday in the sanctuary of Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church.

    PBA President Benjamin Stevenson said the primary purpose for the meeting is to introduce beach residents to county directors and staff who will be responsible for providing services on the beach. The county is assuming control of the Public Safety and Public Works departments from the Santa Rosa Island Authority, effective Oct. 1.

    The county commissioners discussed the transition of the two departments and the future of the Island Authority for about 18 minutes at their Thursday morning committee workshop.

    Last month, the commissioners voted to cut the roughly $8 million Island Authority budget in half and slice commercial and residential lease fees in half in correlation with the county seizing control of the two departments. The county will fund the operational budgets for the departments with an escrow currently set aside for land taxes that holds about $7,600,000.

    Stevenson complimented the Island Authority for its incredible care of the beach, but he is confident the county will hold up to its promise to maintain those lofty standards.

    "County officials will succeed out there as well," Stevenson said.

    The Island Authority will be down to three departments — financing, administration and lease, and environmental and developmental services. Lease fee collections will fund what remains of the governing branch.

    Commissioner Wilson Robertson (District 1) questioned why the Island Authority is losing only half its funding, if the county is absorbing the expense for two departments that exceed half the previous SRIA budget.

    "At what point do we look at half the budget and say, 'Well, you don't have half the responsibility and operations you used to have, so do you still need half the budget?'" Robertson said.

    Chairman Steven Barry (District 5) said, "This board's going to make that decision. We can make that decision today."

    The island falls in the district of Commissioner Grover Robinson IV. Robinson suggested to his fellow commissioners that they seek input about services from island residents over the next year or two before possibly cutting further into the Island Authority budget.

    Robinson favors ultimately eliminating lease fees. If that occurs, the Island Authority will essentially lose all of its funding.

    "First, we have to know if (beach residents) want to keep (the services) or not," Robinson said, "and if they want to keep them how are we going to fund them? Because there's going to need to be something separate than what we pay in generalized ad valorem taxes."

    Despite the uncertainty, the Island Authority will remain a governmental branch for the foreseeable future.

    The Florida legislature created the Island Authority by Special Act in 1947. The Special Act states the legislature is the only governmental branch with the power to disband the Island Authority. Robinson said eliminating the Island Authority is not among the items on the wish list submitted by the county to the legislature.

    No matter what happens to the Island Authority, the commissioners agreed enhanced services will be required for the island.

    "If you take a snap shot from today to five years from now, there's going to be a revenue generating structure of some sort that wraps the island for the enhanced services," Barry said. "Now probably in five years maybe there will not be lease fees, maybe a special taxing district, an MSTU (Municipal Service Taxing Unit) to the island.

    "There's got to be something, then, that those revenues are staying and are specifically segregated to stay and enhance services on the island, and I don't know what exactly that will be called, when does that happen? I think we start that discussion."

    Pensacola Beach Advocates meeting

    •When: 6 p.m. Monday

    •Where: Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church, 920 Via de Luna Drive, Pensacola Beach

    •Purpose: For island residents to meet county directors and staff who will be responsible for providing services on the beach and to discuss the lease-fee reduction setup with Island Authority staff

    For the original article, click here.


  • 09/10/2015 8:56 AM | Anonymous

    (By Thomas St. Myer, pnj.com) 

    A potential bombshell slowly defused Wednesday night at the Santa Rosa Island Authority board meeting after board members discussed the future of executive director Buck Lee and his potential successor for about 30 minutes.

    Chairwoman Tammy Bohannon caught the rest of the board members off guard when she proposed Lee be paid through May 23, but that he step aside Oct. 9, three months before his planned retirement date of Jan. 15. She cited the urgency to transition to a new director with the county assuming control of the Public Safety and Public Works departments Oct. 1 as reason for him to move up his last day as executive director.

    Her proposal came after Lee read a two sentence statement about his retirement. Lee missed out on the opportunity to announce his retirement last month, leaving the meeting early due to illness.

    "I thought I was going to read my two little sentences and leave," Lee said.

    Board member Karen Sindel said, "How'd that work out for you?"

    "Not very well," said a good-humored Lee, who joked about his refusal to mow grass and the possibility of someday working at Ace Hardware.

    Jerry Watson told fellow SRIA board members that he preferred Lee stay through the transition. Dave Pavlock then questioned why the rush to replace Lee. A few of the board members asked Lee if he wished to push up his retirement.

    "Let's come back and talk about this in committee, if that's the board's desire. … That won't be today. At the earliest, it'll be 30 days after that," Lee said.

    The board agreed, assigning the proposal to its administrative committee.

    Board members spoke for nearly 15 of the 30 minutes about a potential successor for Lee. Pavlock reiterated his preference the board promote from within. Sindel followed by a few other board members tabbed Paolo Ghio, director of developmental services, to be interim director.

    That prompted Robbie Schrock, director of administration, to announce the three Island Authority department directors — her, Ghio and Dottie Ford — formulated a plan for board members to consider at a later date.

    Schrock said they already spoke to four board members about their plan to replace Lee, with Sindel and Janice Gilley as the exceptions.

    Pavlock complimented Ghio as a director, but he suggested Schrock succeed Lee.

    "I do appreciate that. We do have a plan A and plan B on just what our personal ideas are," Schrock said to the board. "We are all three on the same page, and we have a great thing going on the island."

    Schrock encouraged the board to let the directors speak to each of the board members before they decide on a successor.

    Lee cited the uncertain future of the Island Authority for why he opted to retire two to three years earlier than he initially planned.

    Bohannon hinted that the Island Authority will last at least through the year. County commissioners reportedly authorized the county administrator and attorney to discuss with the Island Authority board about a joint request to change the Special Act in time for the next legislative session, but Bohannon said, "I've been told that's completely off the table."

    The Florida legislature created the Island Authority by Special Act in 1947 and is the only entity that possesses the power to disband the SRIA.

    The discussions about Lee and his potential successor perhaps overshadowed a tribute to Bob West, the public safety director who is retiring effective Sept. 30. Bohannon presented West a plaque after spending about two minutes rattling off his impressive accomplishments in 12 years as director.

    "The reality is it's not me," West said. "There are so many cogs on this great big wheel that have turned things around, and I'm just really proud to be one cog on this wheel."

    For a link to the original article, click here.

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