Have a Wonderful Holiday Season!
It has been a memorable year for our country and Perdido Key. The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have waxed and waned, but the resilience of our area has been remarkable. As we look forward to the New Year, we hope to see continued progress on our island’s infrastructure including completion of the Perdido Key Multi-Use Path, new crosswalk near the Eden and Seaspray condominiums and roundabout at the Perdido Key Drive/Johnson Beach Road intersection. We also hope for a smooth transition into District 1 and a pleasant not turbulent tourist season. As in the past, the PKA Board of Directors will keep you informed of these and other items of community interest and wish you the very best of Holiday Seasons!
PKA Annual Membership Meeting Saturday February 19, 2022
We hope you can attend the PKA Annual Membership Meeting to be held from 10 AM until Noon on Saturday, February 19, 2022, at one of the Eden Condominium Meeting Rooms located at 16281 Perdido Key Drive. Both in person and Zoom participation are anticipated; the guest speaker is to be determined. Your invitation, along with the meeting agenda and proxy material, should arrive by US Mail by mid-January 2022. Please review the documents and return the proxy when possible.
Perdido Key in District 1
At its December 2, 2022 meeting, the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners voted 4 to 1 in favor of the new redistricting plan moving Perdido Key from District 2 to District 1, effective immediately. Several attendees argued against moving Perdido Key to District 1, but their comments failed to change the outcome. Your Perdido Key Association will continue to work to keep Perdido Key a great place to live and visit and will keep you advised of any redistricting and related issues as they emerge.
District 1 Commissioner Jeff Bergosh frequently has “Coffee with the Commissioner” meetings such as a “virtual” one on December 8, 2021 from 6:30 to 7:30 AM. To join the meeting, go to www.facebook.com/CommissionerBergosh/.
January 7 Gulf Power Presentation at Hub Stacey’s
The Perdido Key Area Chamber of Commerce’s Friday, January 7, 2022 Breakfast Brief at Hub Stacey’s on Innerarity Point will feature Rick Byers, the Gulf Power Community and Economic Development Manager. This should be a good opportunity to find out more about recent installation of concrete utility poles on Perdido Key Drive and River Road, the possibility of underground utilities in the future, and Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) recent rate increase proposal, among other issues. Note that Gulf Power is FPL as of January 1, 2022. The networking coffee begins at 7:30 AM with the presentation starting at 8:00 AM; pre-registration with the Chamber is recommended.
January 8 Shred Day at Gulf State Park
Be sure to take advantage of “E-Cycling and Shred Day” from 8 AM until Noon on Saturday, January 8, 2022 at Gulf State Park Pavilion. The free event sponsored by Coastal Alabama Business Chamber and other local organizations will “securely and safely dispose of your personal documents or electronic items [but no batteries] without even having to exit your vehicle.” 50 pounds of shred items are allowed; small paper clips need not be removed but please do not tape or tie bags or boxes.
State Park Job Opportunity
An AmeriCorps ROAR (Regional Outreach and Recruiters) position is available at Big Lagoon State Park. The person selected must be over 17 years old and will take on a variety of park related work and activities. The position offers a $1,500 monthly stipend and $6,195 Education Award after completion of 11 months service. For more information contact State Park Ranger Emily Price at 850 492-1595 or Emily.email@example.com and visit the Project ROAR AmeriCorps website at https://www.conservationjobboard.com/job-listing-project-roar-americorps-member-pensacola-florida/841313391.
Water Salinity Report
Annual rainfall in our area in recent years has exceeded its normal 60 inches, with 2021 accumulating greater than 88 inches. Excess fresh water can lower salinity in local estuaries and other waterways and endanger biological systems such as sea grass and scallops. As development paves over natural areas that absorb rainfall, runoff can increase to lower salinity even further. For commentary and data on recent salinity measurements in our area, see Rick O’Connor’s fall 2021 article “Has All of This Rain Impacted the Salinity of the Pensacola Bay Area?” available at https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/escambiaco/2021/12/20/has-all-of-this-rain-impacted-the-salinity-of-the-pensacola-bay-area/.
Follow the James Webb Space Telescope
After years of delay the James Webb Space Telescope was launched on Christmas Day 2021, but that may have been the easy part of getting the complex instrument operational. During January 2022 multiple complex operations such as unfolding the telescope’s heat shield and 21 foot mirror from their launch positions must be completed without a hitch so the instrument can explore the most ancient light of the universe. We can follow the deployment progress at NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope website available at https://www.jwst.nasa.gov/content/webbLaunch/whereIsWebb.html.
Multi-Use Path West Portion Completed!
Perdido Key Multi-Use Path construction on the north side of Perdido Key Drive from the west end of the Perdido Key State Park to the Alabama border (about two miles) has been completed. Design and engineering studies for the remaining approximately four-mile east portion from the west end of the State Park to the Theo Baars Bridge/River Road is completed with construction expected to begin at some point in 2022. The path has been fully funded as a pedestrian and bicycle path, not for motorized vehicles such as golf carts or ATVs. As the path enters use in the months and years ahead, action to ensure its use by pedestrians and bicycles only will be a continuing challenge.
Blue Angels Upcoming Schedule
The Blue Angels will have their 2022 Pensacola Beach Show July 9-10; the Homecoming Air Show at Naval Air Station Pensacola will be November 11-12. The 2023 schedule is available at https://www.navy.mil/Press-Office/News-Stories/Article/2864643/blue-angels-release-2023-air-show-schedule/.
Concrete Utility Poles on River Road
Gulf Power is replacing wooden utility poles along River Road with concrete ones. According to an April 2021 Gulf Power news release about an earlier pole replacement along Jackson Street: “Concrete poles are wind-rated at 140 mph and have a longer lifespan than wood poles, which will help during storm season to reduce the number of outages.” For more information, see the April 15, 2021 Gulf Power news release “Improving reliability: Gulf Power transmission project to replace wood poles with concrete in Pensacola” at https://www.gulfpowernews.com/reliability-transmission/.
More Construction on Perdido Key
Construction has begun on many single-family homes along Gardenglen Drive and adjacent streets just off River Road. The “Serenity” development being built by DR Horton is located between Semmes Road and the Arborgate subdivision and extends to Lost Key Golf and Beach Club. In addition, Lost Key builder Lennar is in the process of acquiring permission to build an additional 90 housing units on Lost Key. Many residents are concerned about the possible environmental damage, trash buildup, congestion and other problems that may result in what some believe is an already overbuilt location.
Pensacola a Good Place to Retire
Pensacola was ranked #10 by U.S. News & World Report in its 2021-2022 listing of “Best Places to Retire.” Other listed Florida locations included #1 Sarasota, #2 Naples and #3 Daytona Beach. For more on the rankings, go to the October 19, 2021 Pensacola News Journal article “Best places to retire: Pensacola makes top 10 on U.S. News Best Places list” at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/pensacola/2021/10/19/best-places-retire-pensacola-makes-u-s-news-world-report-list/8510385002/.
Seafarer Gift to PKA
At the November 8, 2021 PKA Board of Directors meeting, Director John Rossman – also Facilities Manager of the Seafarer Condominium – presented a $1,000 check to the Perdido Key Association from the Seafarer Owners Association as a gesture of support for the work PKA does to help maintain the quality-of-life owners and residents of the island enjoy. PKA president Charles Krupnick accepted the gift on behalf of PKA and expressed the Association’s gratitude for the generous donation.
What is the Florida State Bird?
It’s the northern mockingbird but State Senator Jeff Brandes of St. Peterburg would like it changed, saying: “… Florida should have a state bird more representative of the area, rather than one that’s already shared by four other states. Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas have all also designated the northern mockingbird as their state bird.” For more on the issue, see the October 1, 2021 WFTV article “Does Florida need a new state bird? At least one lawmaker thinks so” at https://www.wftv.com/news/local/does-florida-need-new-state-bird-least-one-lawmaker-thinks-so/M4WAN3FJYBBA3PYY3XX6QDZ6AU/.
It’s Time to Appreciate the Perdido Key Master Plan!
The 2020 Perdido Key Property Owner Survey showed 43.6% of property owners supported the Perdido Key Master Plan but 46.4% were neutral. This probably means many Perdido Key property owners are unaware of the plan and its merits. As emphasized by Escambia County District 2 Commissioner Doug Underhill at the February 2021 PKA Annual Membership Meeting, the Master Plan is one of the ways development is managed on Perdido Key and should be very much appreciated by owners and residents of the island. Many PKA members attended charrettes and are familiar with the process leading to approval of the Master Plan in 2016, so it is probably up to us to ensure the value of the plan is known to others who care about Perdido Key and its future. Information about the plan is available on the PKA website at https://www.perdidokeyassociation.org on the “Master Plan” page with links to supporting documents on the Escambia County webpage.
Perdido Key Beach Access #4
Construction on the new beach access location just east of the Crab Trap restaurant is ongoing. According to an Escambia County news release, the new site will have a “permeable concrete parking lot with 35 parking spots, installation of an ADA-compliant AccessMat dune walkover and educational signage about protected wildlife.” As a designated Perdido Key beach mouse habitat, the site will have fencing to “prevent pedestrian and vehicular trespass on protected habitat areas.” For more on the project, see the Escambia County October 20, 2021 news release “Escambia County to Break Ground on New Perdido Key Beach Access #4” at https://myescambia.com/news/news-article/2021/10/20/escambia-county-to-break-ground-on-new-perdido-key-beach-access-4.
A Great Holiday Party!
Perdido Key Association members, relatives and friends had a wonderful time at the annual PKA Holiday Party on December 13, 2021 at the Seafarer Condominium meeting room. Ample beverage and food were on hand and as usual all enjoyed Alan Dennis’ marvelous meatballs. With the camaraderie of old and new acquaintances, the party had a wealth of holiday good cheer.
Successful Cleanup of Perdido Key Beaches!
International Coastal Cleanup at Perdido Key State Park was a big success despite rainfall during half the cleanup period. Almost 30 volunteers gathered multiple bags of trash and other debris to help keep Perdido Key beaches from the Perdido Key Area of Gulf Islands National Seashore to the Alabama border clean and safe. The annual event was organized by the Perdido Key Association, Friends of Pensacola State Parks, and local Florida State Park officials; sponsors Flora-Bama, The Perdido Key Sports Bar & Restaurant, and Vacasa vacation rentals helped fund the souvenir t-shirts distributed to participants.
World Oceans Day 2021
The June 8 celebration of World Oceans Day 2021 at the Perdido Key Community Center was a considerable success. Organized by the Perdido Key Area Chamber of Commerce, the event hosted many family groups who visited the educational displays and presentations by Florida Fish and Wildlife, Niuhi Dive Charters, Ocean Strike Team, Escambia County Marine Resources, Pensacola and Perdido Bays and Estuaries staff, Alabama Gulf Coast Zookeepers, Clean Horizons, Florida State Parks, Friends of Pensacola State Parks, Friends of the Southwest Library and PKA. ECUA’s “Quench Buggy” provided water and information on protecting the aquifer.
The event also featured the Community Center’s just constructed Solar Windmill (see photo). As stated in a June 7, 2021 Escambia County media release:
A PrimoEnergy EnergiPlant solar windmill was installed today at the Perdido Key Community Center, in time for World Ocean Day on June 8. The windmill, equipped with a 1200W wind turbine and four 50W solar panels, will also provide seating and phone charging capabilities. Funds to purchase the windmill were provided by Escambia County Commissioner Doug Underhill’s District 2 discretionary funds.
The windmill is part of a larger effort to provide amenities along the future Perdido Key Multi-Use Path. When complete, the multi-use path will extend approximately 6.2 miles from the Alabama-Florida state line, eastward through Perdido Key State Park to River Road along the north side of Perdido Key Drive and provide safe access for cyclists and pedestrians.
To access the full County media document titled “Solar Windmill Installed at Perdido Key Community Center,” go to https://myescambia.com/news/news-article/2021/06/07/solar-windmill-installed-at-perdido-key-community-center.
2021 PKA Annual Membership Meeting
The 2021 PKA Annual Membership Meeting was held Saturday, February 27, 2021 at the Eden Condominium – the first Perdido Key Association meeting with both in-person and remote Zoom attendance. The featured speaker was Escambia County District 2 Commissioner Doug Underhill who focused on results from the 2020 Perdido Key Property Owner Survey, including development, traffic, wildlife and environment, and governing concerns. He also fielded questions from attendees, including beachfront access and erosion issues. PKA president Charles Krupnick followed with updates on the PKA budget, past and current Association initiatives and damage to area beach parks from Hurricane Sally. Approximately 35 people participated in the meeting in-person and a similar number attended online. The Eden staff provided superior support, including COVID-19 precautions and assisting with Zoom preparations and presentation.
NOTES ON THE ENVIRONMENT
Protecting the Environment on Perdido Key
Why has Perdido Key not become overdeveloped? One reason certainly is because the Perdido Key beach mouse was listed as an endangered species in 1985 under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1966. Preventing local extinction of the mouse required protecting its habitat with measures like curbing public access to dunes, planting appropriate vegetation, and restriction predators such as domestic cats. Those hoping to build on the island had to meet stringent requirements and pass through numerous administrative hoops and permissions in order for construction to begin – a process that could take years. To improve the process, in 2008-2010 Escambia County worked with federal agencies to create the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) that greatly expedited the process while still protecting the Perdido Key beach mouse, sea turtles and piping plovers (a small shorebird). According to Tim Day, Escambia County natural resource manager: “The endangered species issues have done a good job helping to maintain the vision of Perdido Key as a village which isn’t overbuilt or a condo canyon.” “The island’s habitat has to be as nice as the condo you’ve just constructed.” All of us who appreciate the modest development and wonderful wildlife on our island should strongly support efforts to retain its natural environment and beauty. For more on the Perdido Key beach mouse and the environment, see the December 13, 2017 US Fish and Wildlife Service document “The Mouse that Roared: On a Florida beach, builders and conservationists join forces to save an endangered species” by Dan Chapman at https://www.fws.gov/southeast/articles/the-mouse-that-roared/, also available on the Archive page of the PKA website; the film “Little Beach Mouse from the South” at https://www.intonaturefilms.org/project/little-beach-mouse-from-the-south/; and the Habitat Conservation Plan at https://myescambia.com/docs/default-source/sharepoint-natural-resources-management/perdido-key-habitat-conservation-plan/ada-docs/ada_final-perdido-key-hcp-23nov11.pdf?sfvrsn=db78186d_4.
Photo Credit: USFWS
Rehabilitated Sea Turtles released on Perdido Key
Two loggerhead and one Kemps’ Ridley sea turtles were released to the Gulf of Mexico on November 11, 2021 following rehabilitation at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park on Okaloosa Island. All had been injured by fishing hooks or other fishing gear and weighted about 100 pounds. For more on the release, see the November 11, 2021 Pensacola News Journal article “Three 100-pound rehabilitated sea turtles release at Perdido Key Thursday” by Emma Kennedy at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/pensacola/beaches/2021/11/11/three-rehabilitated-sea-turtles-released-perdido-key-thursday-morning/6388681001/.
Red Tide and Manatee Concerns
The red tide (karenia brevis) has been gradually moving north from Southwest Florida into Panhandle waters in recent months. Some fish kills have occurred near Destin but the latest readings show very low concentrations of red tide in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties. 2021 has been a terrible year for manatees with over 1,000 deaths, many from starvation due to seagrass loss from pollution. “For the first time, we’ve had such a large number of manatees that have literally starved to death,” said Pat Rose, an aquatic biologist and executive director of Maitland-based Save the Manatee Club. On a more positive note, as of November 1, 2021 there have been 135 manatee sightings in the Pensacola Bay area. For more on manatee, go to the November 17, 2021 USA Today article “Florida surpasses grim milestone of 1,000 manatee deaths in 2021, starvation a large factor” by Max Chesnes at https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/11/17/florida-manatee-deaths-2021-starving-seagrass-loss/8654284002/.
Perdido Key’s Wonderful Wildlife
December 2021 saw a pelican, two ducks and a blue heron all looking for lunch on the Old River. It began with a dive by the pelican, a blue heron flying in for a look and then ducks diving and swimming underwater to check out the action. Perdido Key area residents are exceptionally fortunate to live in such a wonderful wildlife area.