- Collier remains crabby and disdainful as ever over public input into the project. It may be some sort of a legal thing with him. "The Sunshine Law," he says, is "the most disastrous thing ever to come down the pike in terms of getting things done." Then he adds:
It's like the lawsuit (against the board regarding the question of whether the public had a right to speak at CMPA meetings). Anybody who can understand the English language knows the Sunshine Law does not say anything about (public) participation at a meeting.Which misses the point, of course. Whether compelled by law or not, are there any serious arguments against listening to the public's views about a planned public park on public land which needed voters' approval and would be financed with public finds? Pettifoggery over what the law compels hardly is an answer. But as Collier, himself, says by now "that's just a sidelight."
- Far more convincing is Collier's candid take that, "Unfortunately, the City Council has gone along with making this park, in my opinion, a commercial park and not a people's park."
If you go back to the original (concept), you see limited commercial (on the north end of the project).It's pretty clear over-commercialization of the Maritime Park is why Judge Collier resigned as chairman of the commission: "I was unwilling to lead into a commercial park," he says, "and I certainly wasn't willing to follow into a commercial park, so that means get out of the way."
* * *
I don't care if there's never a (commercial) development on the property — because that was not the thing. We want people to have a restaurant to go to, and such things as that, but that was never, ever a primary goal in my mind for this project.
- Finally, after 'sitting down' with him 'on several occasions' the judge developed a deep distrust in his "gut" for
JackScott Davison. [corrected by reader] Davison is the private developer to whom the city has given the construction contract.
One of the first things he told me was that the museum property needed to be "his," that it was the prime property on the site and was wasted on the museum. That to me was totally the wrong attitude; that was one of the three legs of the park and all of a sudden (he didn't want it).
* * *
And, of course, we hired (consultant) Owen Beitsch, paid him nearly 50 grand, and his recommendation was for the other (bidder). I put a great deal of faith in that.
Running alongside the extended interview is a PNJ editorial that strikes a plaintive, very nearly desperate, tone ["The Same Old Pensacola?"]:
The Community Maritime Park is not about a baseball stadium, an amphitheater or a museum. It is not about New Market Tax Credits, bonds, developer funding, the MAGI Group, MPDP, retail stores, parking lots or the tents of the homeless.At bottom, the newspaper sobs, it doesn't matter if the park is good, or bad, or too commercial, or too non-commercial. Something has to be built or it will be evidence it's "the same Pensacola."
It is not about Mike Wiggins, Jim Reeves, Mort O'Sullivan, Quint Studer, Lacey Collier, Collier Merrill, Ed Spears or the assortment of lawyers involved. It isn't even about the project's patriarchs: the late Vince Whibbs, mayor of Pensacola, the late Adm. Jack Fetterman.
Not now it isn't. It's about getting it done.
Odd, that. This is the very attitude -- 'It doesn't matter if it's terrible, just build it' -- that we always thought was "the same old Pensacola."
minor edit 4-13 am