Baptist Hospital Moves to New Facility
Baptist Hospital moved from its E Street location on September 23-24 to a new facility at the intersection of I-110 and Brent Lane. Patients were transferred in carefully orchestrated groups of three ambulances. Concerns remain about the fate of the old facility that provided of an anchor for the surrounding neighborhood since there is no overall blueprint in place for its large buildings and parking lots. For more on this issue, see the September 24, 2023 Pensacola News Journal article “It may take up to 15 years to redevelop old Baptist property. Leaders want to move much faster” by Jim Little at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/escambia-county/2023/09/22/baptist-hospital-moreno-campus-fin-pensacola-under-negotiation/70920769007/.
Evening for the Estuaries October 12
The Pensacola and Perdido Bays Estuary Programs is sponsoring its first fund raising gala to help fund its initiatives to “restore our waters, connect communities, sustain prosperity, and protect biodiversity.” The event will be held at the Coastal Arts Center in Orange Beach from 6:30 to 9:00 PM and will feature “live music, drinks, hors d-oeuvres (including oysters!), a silent auction and giving back to the waters we call home.” Tickets are $150 per person and $250 per couple. For more information, go to https://pensacolaandperdidobaysestuaryprogram-bloom.kindful.com/e/2023-evening-for-the-estuaries-gala.
Delta Nonstop to New York
Delta Airlines has announced it will begin direct flights from Pensacola to New York City beginning in November 2023. For more on the issue, see the September 25, 2023 Pensacola News Journal article “Just in time for the holidays, Delta to offer nonstop flights between New York and Pensacola” by Jim Little at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/pensacola/2023/09/20/delta-to-offer-nonstop-flights-to-new-york-from-pensacola-in-november/70913977007/?utm_source=ppen-newsletter_dailybriefing&utm_content=1063nj-e-daily%20briefing&utm_campaign=newsletter_dailybriefing&utm_medium=email&utm_term=adhoc.
Florida Legislative Wrapup
1000 Friends of Florida closely follows Florida legislation. It is vigilant about environmental issues and this year has been particularly concerned about state efforts to weaken local authority. For a summary of the Florida 2023 legislative session by 1000 Friends, go to https://1000fof.org/legis/2023-legislative-session/.
Perdido Key Multi-Use Path Progress
Work of the Perdido Key Multi-Use Path is proceeding apace near the Theo Baars Bridge. Recent construction extends from River Road to Perdido Key Drive along the west side of the bridge and continues south along Perdido Key Drive. For those who have waited years for a completed Multi-Use Path, it is terrific to see current progress!
River Road Landscape Improvement
The road easement green space between River Road pavement and the fenced area of the Lost Key Resort has been greatly improved in recent weeks by Escambia County and local correctional facility personnel. Long overgrown, many thorny and other weed-like plants have been cleared, the green space mowed and much of the litter removed.
“We Are Perdido” Feasibility Study Explained
At the August 21, 2023 “We Are Perdido” public meeting at Liberty Church, Mr. Joseph M. Mazurkiewicz, President of BJM Consulting, covered the results as of August 26, 2023 of his firm’s feasibility study on incorporation of four Escambia County southwest voting districts into a municipality. The study does not conclude for or against the project but contains data from BJM’s research and comments from a personnel survey. All those in the area of concern should read the study in detail, but here are three points of possible interest. First, during his presentation Mr. Mazurkiewicz stated that of the five incorporation initiatives his firm had taken on this year, “We Are Perdido” was the only one going forward. Second, the following paragraph from p. 56 of the study states: “The initial impacts on residents of Perdido would be very limited. There would be no new ad valorem taxes. Some businesses would be charged an additional annual Business Tax Receipt (BRT) or town license annually (Escambia County BRT is currently $26.25 per business annually). These would be businesses who operate in both Perdido and Escambia County. The new local government of Perdido would gain total control of about $6 million annually to do capital maintenance and new projects.” And third from p. 8: “The majority on Perdido Key are not full-time residents (only about one in four) and consequently have no vote in local issue[s].” “We Are Perdido” leadership intends to forward the study along with other required documentation to the state of Florida by September 1, 2023. To access the feasibility study and other information about the incorporation initiative, go to the “We Are Perdido” website at https://weareperdido.org/.
Rescue Tube Station at Beach Access #4
At an August 26, 2023 event attended by District 1 Commissioner Jeff Bergosh, a “Rescue Tube” station was erected at Perdido Key’s Beach Access #4. Funded by the Rotary Club of Perdido Key in conjunction with a grant from Rotary International District 6940, the Rescue Tube station is a post sunk into the sand with signage and a rescue tube mounted with a Velcro strap to be used for a water emergency. Rescue Tube stations are installed at Navarre Beach and other locations nationwide. For more on the event and important information on Rescue Tube use, go to the August 28, 2024 WEAR newscast “Life-saving rescue tubes introduced to Perdido Key in response to multiple drownings” at https://weartv.com/news/local/life-saving-rescue-tubes-introduced-to-perdido-key-in-response-to-multiple-drownings and the Rotary Club of Navarre website entry “Navarre Beach Rescue Tube Project” at https://navarrerotary.org/navarre-beach-rescue-tube-project/.
Volunteers for Perdido Key Demonstration Garden
Escambia County will host three volunteer workdays at the Perdido Key Coastal Demonstration Garden at 15500 Perdido Key Dr (the Perdido Key Visitors Center) from 9 AM to Noon on September 15, October 20 and November 17. This is a good opportunity to become familiar with native species and gardening techniques. County staff will provide all necessary tools and equipment. Volunteers of all ages are welcome, but those under 18 will need a parent or guardian onsite for the duration of the event. For more information and to register, go to the Escambia County News Article “Escambia County to Host Volunteer Workdays at Perdido Key Garden” at https://myescambia.com/news/news-article/2023/08/28/escambia-county-to-host-volunteer-workdays-at-perdido-key-garden.
Heron Trot 5K at Big Lagoon on November 11
Help honor our veterans on Veterans Day by participating in the Heron Trot 5K road race on Saturday, November 11, 2023 at Big Lagoon State Park. Hosted by the Friends of Pensacola State Parks, sign-in will begin at 6 AM with the race at 7 AM. T-Shirts with a patriotic heron design will be available when pre-registered by October 25, 2023; based on availability, t-shirts may be offered on race day. Pre-registration fee is $40; day of the race is $45. The Friends of Pensacola State Parks uses proceeds from events such as the Heron Trot to help support local State Parks. For more information, go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/heron-trot-5k-runwalk-tickets-698005141167.
Estuary Program Position Available
The Pensacola and Perdido Bays Estuary Program (PPBEP) hopes to hire a Community Outreach Assistant to support “all aspects of the Program’s community engagement, including K-12 curriculum development, teacher workshops, field trips, public outreach and activities, event planning, volunteer coordination, meeting support, communications, content development, and providing administrative support for the Community Grant Program.” For more on PPBEP and the available position, go to https://files.constantcontact.com/97572221801/a7960d6c-543c-4295-8e83-15f5c5b054c7.pdf?rdr=true.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, September and October are good times to get a flu vaccine. For more on this issue, see the August 28, Naples Daily News article “Flu activity is low but picking up in Florida as season kicks in soon” by Liz Freeman at https://www.naplesnews.com/story/news/health/2023/08/23/flu-activity-is-low-in-florida-for-now-only-outbreak-is-in-lee-county/70657110007/.
Hurricane Season Brief
Escambia County emergency management personnel gave a Perdido Key Area Chamber of Commerce Breakfast Brief on preparations for the ongoing hurricane season. They emphasized three issues: know you zone; know your home; and, know your plan. The Atlantic hurricane season will be from June 01 until November 31, 2023 and according to some estimates will be “slightly below average” although uncertainty remains in the forecasts. For more on ongoing hurricane season, see the May 5, 2023 Pensacola News Journal article “Hurricane season 2023 starts June1. Here’s the latest predictions and how to prepare.” by Brandon Girod at https://www.pnj.com/story/weather/hurricanes/2023/05/05/hurricane-season-2023-starts-june-1-predictions-names-and-more/70183694007/; for local emergency information and guidance, go to Escambia County’s Emergency Management web location at https://myescambia.com/our-services/public-safety/beready.
Perdido Key Roundabout
The roundabout at the intersection of Perdido Key Drive and Johnson Beach Road has been controversial in the several months since its construction. Long traffic lines are common to the Perdido area during tourist season but may have increased after the roundabout was put in service. District 1 Commissioner Jeff Bergosh has been investigating its origins and uncovered a 2018 Florida state study recommending against a roundabout at the intersection. For more on the issue, see the July 28, 2023 Pensacola News Journal article “$1.4 million roundabout opened last year on Perdido Key. Why some say it’s a waste.“ by Mollye Barrows at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/escambia-county/2023/07/28/going-in-circles-escambia-county-studies-new-perdido-key-roundabout-for-traffic-problems/70476016007/.
New ECUA Trash/Recycling Options
The ECUA board has decided to give customers a choice between having one trash can and one recycling can or having two trash cans. Changes are being made because some subscribers are using recycling cans for normal waste and raising the cost to recycle. The board also voted to raise sanitation rates by 9.5% with average fees increasing $2.86 to about $33.03 a month. The city of Pensacola plans to end curbside recycling on October 1, 2023 and is investigating other means for people to recycle. For more on the issue, see the August 04, 2023 Pensacola News Journal article “ECUA customers may have to pay 9.5% more and choose between recycling or second trash can” by Jim Little at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/escambia-county/2023/08/04/ecua-customers-may-see-rate-increase-for-sanitation-water-and-sewer/70496848007/#:~:text=Emerald%20Coast%20Utilities%20Authority%20customers,to%20a%20second%20trash%20can.
Tourism in Escambia County
Visit Pensacola officials provided information on various aspects of the local tourist industry at the August 8, 2023 meeting of the Escambia County Tourist Development Council. Data included that, of the 2.5 million visitors to Escambia County in fiscal year 2022, 37.9% went to Pensacola Beach and 18.9% to Perdido Key; of the $12.8 million in Tourist Development Taxes (TDT) collected thus far in 2023, Pensacola Beach collected 40.4% and Perdido Key 18.1%.
River Road Closure Moved to September 11
River Road closure to vehicles has been delayed from July 11 to September 11, 2023 and the end of tourist season. The road will be closed for approximately three months to replace the culvert running underneath the roadbed. Pedestrians are expected to be able to us the road for the duration of the work.
New Perdido Key Beach Lighting Requirements
The Escambia County Board of County Commissioners updated the Perdido Key Habitat Conservation Plan with a new “Perdido Key Barrier Island Lighting Ordinance.” It requires Perdido Key properties south of Semmes Road to utilize “wildlife-friendly lighting for exterior lights to protect sea turtle and beach mice habitats.” Once filed with the state, the new regulations will be effective for new construction while existing properties have until January 1, 2028 to comply. The new regulations also affect Pensacola Beach. For more on this issue, see the July 20, 2023 Escambia County News Article “Escambia BCC Amends Barrier Island Lighting Ordinance” at https://myescambia.com/news/news-article/2023/07/20/escambia-bcc-amends-barrier-island-lighting-ordinance.
Proposed $3.6 million RESTORE Funding for Perdido Key Beach Access
The Escambia County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) is pursuing an amendment to its RESTORE Multi-Year Implementation Plan (MYIP) that includes $3.6 million for “Perdido Key Beach Public Access Property Acquisition.” If approved by the BCC and US Treasury, the funds would be used for “property acquisition, design, permitting and construction of public infrastructure improvements to facilitate public Access to the Gulf of Mexico…” The amendment also includes proposals for “Bob Sikes Fishing Pier Rehabilitation,” “Cantonment Community Center Construction Assistance,” “CRA Infrastructure Economic Development Program,” “South Navy Boulevard Improvements” and “Bayou Grande Watershed Management Plan.” The public has 45 days to comment on the amendment following the BCC’s July 18, 2023 meeting before final Board action and transmission to the US Treasury. For more on the amendment, see the July 18, 2023 BCC Agenda Item 2023-9474 at https://civicclerk.blob.core.windows.net/stream/ESCAMBIACOFL/abf1032d-8a60-4b6c-b943-73bc8525d5fe.pdf?sv=2022-11-02&st=2023-07-24T00%3A30%3A35Z&se=2024-07-24T00%3A35%3A35Z&sr=b&sp=r&sig=pVA0PnUPxm1vZ2Hdx9SEuC%2B%2FvnqadikD3HQdxFfzl4k%3D.
Pervious Surfaces for Beach Access #2 and #3
Escambia County plans to resurface the Perdido Key public parking areas at Beach Access #2 and Beach Access #3 with “permeable pavement,” the same surface found on Beach Access #4 that was opened in 2022. This should be a significant improvement over the current loose surface material used at both locations that forms potholes and puddles after rainfall and use.
Perdido Key Private Beach Public Access Dispute
District 1 Commissioner Jeff Bergosh and Escambia County are following up on a finding that the 1957 deeds transferring property from the Federal government to private ownership specified the southerly 75 feet of the Gulf front lots were “subject to a perpetual easement for a beach for public use generally.” Further investigation showed the easement may not apply to property west of Perdido Key State Park and in the vicinity of Beach Access 1, with research ongoing. For more information, consult Commissioner Bergosh’s blog at http://jeffbergoshblog.blogspot.com/ and the April 13, 2023 Pensacola News Journal article “Old deeds give new life to the fight for public access to Perdido Key beaches” by Mollye Barrows at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/escambia-county/2023/04/13/property-deeds-give-public-an-edge-in-fight-for-access-to-beaches-on-perdido-k-versus-private-beache/70107445007/.
World Oceans Day Celebration on Perdido Key!
Lots of children and adults helped celebrate World Oceans Day 2023 at the Perdido Key Visitors Center on Thursday, June 8, 2023. Sponsored by the Perdido Area Chamber of Commerce with several organizations setting up display tables and booths, attendees were able to gain a greater understanding of the need to protect and preserve our oceans and the water and shore areas that help make Perdido Key a great place to live and visit. Among the activities, Florida State Park AmeriCorps representative Justin Franks provided a well received demonstration on sea turtle nesting and the work by volunteers to ensure 2023 is a successful nesting season.
2023 PKA Annual Membership Meeting
About 30 members attended the PKA Annual Membership Meeting on February 25, 2023, at the Eden Condominium; Zoom attendance was planned but connection was not adequately made. Guest speaker Matt Posner, Director of the Pensacola & Perdido Bays Estuary Program, provided valuable information on the health of our region’s waterways as well as the activities of his organization. He emphasized how important seagrass was to our estuaries, noting its health varied by location with the Perdido area in fair shape but Pensacola Bay less fortunate. He also spoke to the recent partial oyster harvest closure in Pensacola Bay caused by excess bacteria but pointed out that local oysters being sold were safe. The Pensacola & Perdido Bay Estuary Program is currently part of Escambia County government and recently completed its first “Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan for the Pensacola and Perdido Bay” watersheds. The organization is seeking “National Estuary Program” designation to make it eligible for federal funding. For more on the organization and projects addressing the health of local waterways, see the “2023 – Matt Posner PKA Presentation” slides posted on the Archive page of this website; you can also go to the organization’s website at https://www.ppbep.org/. PKA president Charles Krupnick continued the meeting identifying PKA Directors for 2023 and reporting on PKA membership and finances, noting the strains on the budget from increased cost of goods and services. He covered Association activities in 2022 including appearances at Escambia County Board of County Commissioner and Perdido Key Area Chamber of Commerce meetings as well as participation in the June World Oceans Day event. He also providing updates on Perdido Key State Park and Perdido Key Area of Gulf Islands National Seashore restoration efforts and other local infrastructure and construction issues. The meeting included a discussion of the current “We are Perdido” incorporation initiative with initiative leader Steve Brendtro in attendance. The audience was encouraged to renew their PKA membership for 2023 as well as to consider becoming PKA Directors. A draft of the “2023 – PKA Annual Membership Meeting Minutes” is posted on the Archive page of this website.
PKA Holiday Party 2022
The PKA Holiday Party on December 12, 2022 provided a wonderful kickoff to the Holiday Season! With terrific decorations and great food provided by PKA Board members and many others, good cheer and comradery were the order of the day. Held at the Palacio Resort – Perdido Key for the first time, the old saying that “a good time was had by all” was particularly appropriate!
NOTES ON THE ENVIRONMENT
Gulf Waters above 100°!
Water in the Gulf of Mexico near the Florida Keys have been nearing or exceeding record temperatures with measurements as high as 101.1°. Excessively high temperatures can cause bleaching to coral reefs and endanger other animal and plant life in ocean waters. Another climate concern is the possible loss of the Gulf Stream and other portions of the “Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC)” that transports warm tropical waters northward keeping Europe warm for its latitude, among other environmental effects. According to a recent study, an AMOC collapse could occur by the mid-21st century. For more on these issues, see the July 25, 2023 USA Today article “101.1 degrees? Water temperatures off Florida Keys among hottest in the world” by Dinah Voyles Pulver at https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2023/07/25/water-temperatures-in-florida/70463489007/ and the July 25, 2023 USA TODAY article “Atlantic Ocean current could collapse soon. How you may endure dramatic weather changes.” by Doyle Rice at https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/weather/2023/07/25/atlantic-current-collapse-possible-in-two-years-study-suggests/70434388007/.
Beach Mouse and Endangered Species Act
The Endangered Species Act was passed 50 years ago and Panhandle Outdoors recently released an article about the Perdido Key beach mouse and its importance to Perdido Key. Written by Escambia County Sea Grant Representative Rick O’Connor, the article provides details on the mouse and its role in “promoting the health of our coastal dunes and beaches and the threats to its survival.” For more on our mouse, go to the June 9, 2023 UF/IFAS Panhandle Outdoors article “50 Years of the Endangered Species Act; Part 2 – The Perdido Key Beach Mouse” at https://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/nat/2023/06/09/50-years-of-the-endangered-species-act-part-2-the-perdido-key-beach-mouse/.
“USFWS photo by Melody Ray-Culp”
International Whale Shark Day on August 30
International Whale Shark Day on August 30, 2023 is meant to highlight whale sharks and actions that can protect them. They are “considered endangered” species and threatened by vessel strikes, entanglement in ocean trash and other man-made hazards. Drawn from August 25, 2023 Ocean Conservancy e-mail by Dr. Anja Brandon.