Longtime Pensacola Beach resident Sally Chamberlain requested at the Visitors Forum that the SRIA consider an amendment to the Land Development Code as it pertains to the length of a pier in residential areas. She also asked that the SRIA increase the area of notification to include more than just the adjoining properties.
At issue is a 300 foot pier that has been constructed from a lot on Ensenada Uno. The pier, which complies with all the rules, is three times longer than other piers that jut into Santa Rosa Sound from that cul-de-sac. Their neighbors at Ensenada Dos do not allow piers to be built. In her request, Chamberlain said a pier of this length serves no real purpose since the water depth is about the same 100 feet out as it is at 300 feet. She added that is obstructs her view and in the summer limits the public’s use of the near shore water. For comparison, she added that the Quietwater Pier is only 260 feet over the water and that is for commercial use.
“There are so many kaykers, paddleboarders, swimmers who use the sound during the summer,” she said. “The other piers are 100 feet, so they must veer out and around the new 300 feet pier. Frankly, I believe this violates my Riparian Rights.”
While Island Authority staff said the pier in question meets all the standards necessary, Board Member Karen Sindel said that pier lengths, riparian rights and pier lights were issues of concern in many areas in Escambia County. She appreciated Chamberlain’s concerns.
Chamberlain implored the Board not to brush this request aside since she feels it has merit. Board Chairman Brigette Brooks assured her they would not. No action was taken, however.
BDI Engineer Jeff Huggins presented an overview of the Dune Walkover Replacement Project, which began in 2015 and has been completed. The project goals were to bring walkovers up to ADA compliance and to protect the natural resources. Building walkovers that comply with mobility standards require more space which impacts the surrounding dune areas, thus putting the two goals at odds. In total there were 13 wooden walkovers and 9 mobi mat type walkovers installed at a cost of $1.4 million.
The mobi-mats, which have not been well-received by some beach residents, were used to replace aging wooden walkovers in the residential areas mostly along Ariola Drive. He showed photos of the wooden structures which were overtaken by sand and in such bad shape as to be dangerous. Huggins commented that maintenance is absolutely necessary and walkovers should be routinely inspected and cleared off.
In conjunction with the Dune Walkover Replacement Project, the SRIA has created a map which shows ADA compliant beach accesses which will be available at the Beach Visitor’s Center.
The Board heard an update from their advertising agency’s CEO Leslie Perino of EW Bullock. Overall, tourism dollars continue to increase and visitors’ numbers to Pensacola Beach are higher than the prior year. The SRIA budgets $145,000 which covers advertising, website, blogs, e-newsletters, webcams, visitor maps and public relations.
Perino’s report was mirrored by the numbers at the Pensacola Beach Visitor’s Center report given by Beach Chamber Director Alison Westmoreland. During 2019, there were 20,524 guest greeted at the Center.
David Forte, who has served as Escambia County’s Transportation and Traffic Ops project manager on Pensacola Beach, gave his final report to the Board. He will be working for the City of Pensacola. He noted that March will be busy with the toll plaza and lanes being prepped for cashless and the Bob Sikes Bridge Rehab project. The third phase of the Congestion Management Plan which includes roundabouts is at 100 percent design, but awaits any action from the Board of Commissioners. He also said the Quietwater Pier improvements are in a holding pattern pending permitting issues and budgeting shortfalls.
In other business:
• Alan Jowers of Carr, Riggs, and Ingram delivered a
clean audit report. The board voted to accept the report.
• Board Attorney Mike Stebbins received approval to maintain the denial of the Nowell’s request to split their leasehold to construct additional homes.
• Two Mardi Gras krewes made a plea for help to the SRIA Board during the Visitors Forum. They were among 4 krewes who failed to attend a mandatory parade safety meeting and offered to pay for a deputy to conduct a special meeting to include The Krewe of St. Patrick, Krewe of Vixens, Gatsby Girls and UFO’s. An earlier request for a special exception was denied by the SRIA staff and Escambia Sheriff’s Office as the result of a January 12 morning meeting between the two agencies. The Krewe of Wrecks board was not invited to the meeting although SRIA Executive Director Paolo Ghio stated these “are the Krewe of Wrecks’ rules.”
Board Chairman Brigette Brooks supported the denial by stating that it would be unfair to the 41 krewes who attended the meeting. She hoped they would participate in the future. Elected Board Member Thomas Campanella confirmed that special exception had been granted in the past.
The SRIA committees will meet Wednesday, February 26 at 5 p.m. at #1 Via de Luna. Agendas are available at www.sria-fla.com.