And The Survey Says: All About Escambia Parks, Community Centers

October 29, 2014

Escambia County recently asked residents to complete an online survey to gauge residents’ thoughts and ideas about parks and community centers.

Results were as follows:

Envision Escambia 2028: Parks & Community Centers

Question #1: In which area of Escambia County do you currently live?

Nearly 25 percent of respondents to our Parks & Community Centers survey live north of Nine Mile Road. Another 21 percent came from the extreme southern portion of the County on Pensacola Beach. More than 3 percent of respondents were from Perdido Key, 15 percent represented the neighborhoods in the area East of Palafox, South of Brent Lane/Bayou Boulevard to the Escambia Bay on the East and Pensacola Bay on the South and another 12  percent lives West of Palafox, East of New Warrington Road, South of Fairfield Drive, North of Pensacola Bay. No area of Escambia County was unrepresented in this survey.

Question #2: By the end of 2017, Escambia County will have spent $41 million to support the development and enhancement of more than 100 neighborhood, athletic and marine parks, as well as 16 community centers, throughout the County. Please tell us how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements. Well maintained parks, community centers and open spaces:

  • Provide economic benefits (e.g.: enhanced property values) to residents: 42  percent strongly agree; 36 percent agree; 8 percent neither disagree nor agree; 3 disagree; 5.5 percent strongly disagree
  • Improve a community’s quality of life: 60 percent strongly agree; 0 percent disagree or strongly disagree
  • Improve air and water quality: 40 percent strongly agree; 22.86 percent agree
  • Brings a community together: 43 percent strongly agree; 34 agree

Question #3: How often do you or members of your family visit a County park?

The majority of survey participants visit County parks (28.5 percent) weekly; 14 pecent visit biweekly and 11.5 percent of those polled visit a County park once per month.

Question #4: Why do you visit Escambia County parks?

  • Relaxation: 15 percent
  • Exercise: 10 percent
  • Athletics/sports: 5 percent
  • Spend time with family/friends: 20 percent
  • Enjoy nature/wildlife/outdoors: 15 percent
  • All of the above: 10 percent
  • Other: 25 percent

Question #5: Please choose any/all reasons you may have for not using County parks and/or facilities:

  • The facilities or equipment we are looking for is not available: 4 percent
  • Security is inefficient: 8 percent
  • Hours of operation are not convenient: 8 percent
  • Location of facilities is not close to my home: 28 percent
  • Facilities are not well maintained: 16 percent
  • Members of my household use facilities from other organizations: 8 percent
  • We are too busy or not interested: 16 percent
  • All (or) most of the above: 4 percent

Question #6: Please rate the availability of facilities at Escambia County parks:

  • Shelter/pavilions: 33 percent feel there are enough and 48.5 percent believe more are needed
  • Benches and bleachers: 26 percent said there are enough, while 52 percent think more should be added
  • Play equipment: 32 percent said there are enough and 45 percent think more are needed
  • Lighting: 23 percent said there is enough lighting, while 63 percent said more lighting is needed
  • Drinking fountains: 18 percent believe there are enough and 58 percent said more are needed

Question #7: If $100 were available for parks and community center facilities, how would you allocate the funds among the categories listed below? (Please make sure your total adds up to $100.)

The highest number of “funds” voters would allocate for if given $100 would go toward:

  1. Improving maintenance to existing parks/community centers
  2. Addition of walking trails
  3. More playgrounds for children
  4. Development of special facilities (dog parks, water playgrounds, boat ramps, etc.)
  5. Improved ADA access
  6. Land acquisition for new facilities
  7. Construction of new athletic facilities (baseball, soccer, basketball, tennis)

Question #8: What type of programming would you like to see in a County park or community center?

  • After school programs: 59 percent
  • Summer recreation programs: 74 percent
  • Adult education programs (GED, job training): 44.5 percent
  • Youth sports leagues: 63 percent
  • Adult sports leagues: 52 percent
  • Special events (festivals, concerts): 74 percent

Comments included:

“Exercise programs, like yoga.”

“Just a nice, safe green park with plenty of benches, lots of trees, perhaps a water feature, for ADA and aging to enjoy in safety.”

Question #9: What is your overall opinion of the quality and condition of Escambia County parks and community centers?

  • Excellent: 6.25 percent
  • Very good: 12.5 percent
  • Good: 44 percent
  • Fair: 29 percent
  • Poor: 0 percent
  • No opinion: 19 percent

Question #10: Do you have comments related to a specific park or community center? A full list of our parks and community centers is available on MyEscambia.com.

Comments include:

Some of the parks aren’t well lit. As a single woman, I don’t feel safe using them for exercise after work.”

“Regional parks are great. Why are there so many pocket parks?”

”I wish more parks could be like Perdido Kids park. I think we need to invest more in the current parks we have. We need more swings, walking paths, kids playground equipment, basketball goals, also at some of the parks I have been to the ants were insane and I was afraid for my children to stand still. Example Avondale park around the track, the ants were insane.”

Question #11: Do you have any additional questions, comments or concerns?

Comments include:

“No. We are happy the park was built in Beulah. It is nice to be able to take our child to the park and not have to drive across town.”

“Spend more resources on maintaining what we have.”

“Consider new or improvements to recreational/activity facilities (walking trails, playground equipment) that can help address high obesity rates related to areas with little/no access to facilities for physical activity (and/or improve safety, lighting etc. to encourage more utilization). Map areas of ‘recreation deserts’ related to population as first targets. Pursue interlocal agreements with school district for use of school facilities (even if only playground) during non-school hours.”

Pictured: The playground at the Molino Community Complex. NorthEscambia.com photo, click to enlarge.

Tate Fall Comedy ‘Saturday The 14th’ On Stage Through Saturday

October 29, 2014

Get ready for “Saturday the 14th” — a parody of the “Friday the 13th movies” nightly through Saturday at Tate High School.

It made all the headlines 30 years ago. Only one camp counselor was found alive the next morning, and she hasn’t spoken a word since. They closed Camp Slippery Floors. Everybody wanted to forget what happened that night… except Mason. Mason never forgets! Now Camp Slippery Floors in going to open again and Mason is waiting in “Saturday the 14th”.

The comedy will be presented through Saturday at 7:00 each evening in the Tate High Cafeteria. Tickets are $7 at the door.

Pictured: The Tate High School production of “Saturday the 14th”. Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

UF: Floridian’s Consumer Confidence Falls Slightly

October 29, 2014

Consumer confidence among Floridians dropped a point in October to 82, the first decline in the index since May, according to a monthly University of Florida survey.

“This decline is not likely indicative of a trend,” said Chris McCarty, director of UF’s Survey Research Center in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research, which conducts the survey. “Given that the stock market has improved late in the month and the decline was only a point, we don’t view the drop as significant.”

Of the five components used in the survey — three declined, one increased, and one stayed the same. Survey-takers’ overall perception whether their personal finances are better now than a year ago fell four points to 71, while their expectations of being better off financially one year from now fell one point to 82.

The survey shows that confidence in the national economy over the coming year fell one point to 78, but it rose a point to 82 when respondents were asked to consider U.S. economic conditions over the next five years.

Finally, respondents’ perception as to whether it is a good time to buy big-ticket item, such as a washing machine, stayed the same at 96.

Afternoon Fire Damages Nine Mile Road Business

October 28, 2014

Fire damaged a Nine Mile Road business this afternoon. The fire was reported about 3:30 p.m. at “A Quality Tree Service” in the 2000 block of West Nine Mile Road, near New Market Street.  Firefighters believe the fire may have been sparked by a water heater. There were no injuries reported. Reader submitted photos by Jon White, click to enlarge.

Overturned Camper Closes Quintette Road

October 28, 2014

An overturned camper closed Quintette Road for a while this morning. The driver of a pickup apparently lost control and slammed into a tree, with their camper overturning across the highway.  A short time after the 10:45 a.m. accident, traffic was allowed to pass  the wreckage on the shoulder. There were no injuries reported. The accident is under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol. NorthEscambia.com photos by Kristi Price, click to enlarge.

Two Shot In Escambia County

October 28, 2014

Two people were shot off Massachusetts Avenue in Escambia Count last night.

Just after 10 p.m., the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office responded to the 1200 block of Rio Grande Circle. They found two males with apparent gunshot wounds — one in a yard and the other inside a vehicle. Both were transported to the hospital as trauma alerts.

The investigation is continuing and further details have not been released.

Critical Need For Blood Donations

October 28, 2014

There is a currently a critical need for O Negative, B Negative and A Negative blood types, according to Betty Roberts of OneBlood.

Donors are encouraged to visit the blood centers at 1999 East Nine Mile Road and 2209 North 9th Avenue, or a an upcoming Bloodmobile stop.

North Escambia area Bloodmobile Drives are scheduled as follows:

  • Thursday, October 30 — Ascend Materials, 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Sunday, November 2 — Hillcrest Baptist Church, 8 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
  • Saturday, November 8 — Walnut Hill VFD Fish Fry, 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

In Depth: Six Months After Escambia County’s Flood

October 28, 2014

It’s been six months since the devastating April floods in Escambia County, and the effects are “staggering”, according to the county.

One resident lost her life when she drowned along Highway 29 near Burger King in Cantonment.  Hundreds were displaced from their homes and entire neighborhoods were torn apart by the rising waters. As of the end of September, 466 Escambia County residents are still displaced from their homes as a result of the devastating floods. In all, the floods caused an estimated $90 million in damage to the county’s infrastructure and facilities.

The science tells the story. The National Weather Service estimates show that more than 25 inches of rain fell in 24 hours – the highest amount of rainfall recorded since 1879. The heaviest rains soaking the urbanized areas of the county, south of Well Line Road. An astounding six inches of rain was recorded in a single hour at the airport in the southeast area of the City of Pensacola between 9 and 10 p.m.

Today, Escambia County is hard at work repairing roads and bridges so that they are better and stronger than they were before the storm.  Almost 80 percent of the 2,318 infrastructure damage sites identified after April’s flood have already been addressed or repaired. An additional 17 percent of the damage sites are currently under design or repair.

County official credit the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) with allowing Escambia County to move quickly to return streets, parks and facilities to near-normal conditions without having to wait for federal assistance. The county commission was able to authorize a $10 million interest-free loan from the LOST III Fund to the Disaster Recovery Fund to kick-start recovery efforts.

From past experience, county leaders said they knew that a substantial portion of the recovery costs would come due prior to receipt of any reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) or State Department of Emergency Management (DEM). In preparation for these necessary expenses, the Board approved the interfund loan this past July to help in covering the large costs associated with ongoing recovery. To finance the recovery, the cash will be transferred from the LOST III Fund when needed and repaid when FEMA and State DEM reimbursements are made.

The April floods impacted nearly all aspects of our community, from individuals and families to businesses, the economy, parks, public buildings and infrastructure. In turn, the recovery process has required an extraordinary effort from the whole community. The county is working to shape these efforts into a cohesive long-term strategy for recovery that:

  • Incorporates immediate needs and the long-term vision of the community.
  • Incorporates “lessons learned” to reduce potential impacts from future disasters.
  • Uses available technical and financial resources to reach the desired outcomes.

The flood extracted a great toll on infrastructure throughout the area. Transportation,utilities and public facilities were all significantly impacted. In total, the damage assessment area covers approximately 175 square miles (not including 23 square miles located in the City of Pensacola).  For a disaster of this size, scope and complexity, recovery requires a multi-faceted approach. To this end, the county:

  • Focused initial efforts on restoring basic services through infrastructure repair, both temporary and permanent.
  • Worked to establish multiple points of contact with representatives from FEMA to assist residents in obtaining immediate financial assistance.
  • Joined with the City of Pensacola to establish a storm water task force to create a multi-disciplinary approach to storm water recovery that includes engagement from technical experts and representatives from all constituencies to identify and institute mitigation and resiliency initiatives.
  • Is working with the owners of Forest Creek Apartments and FEMA to potentially relocate the apartment complex due to repetitive flooding. The property would then be absorbed into the adjacent Jones Creek watershed.
  • Conducted more than $60,000 in emergency pumping projects to remove storm water from several neighborhoods that continued to hold flood waters for up to two weeks post-event due to their topography. Neighborhoods receiving this type of assistance included:
    • Ponderosa Drive and Surrey Drive near Nine Mile Road
    • Gulf Beach Highway near Nassau Street
    • 73rd Street at Fabiano Street
  • Investigated and identified more than 2,300 sites where infrastructure was damaged.
  • Permanently or temporarily addressed or repaired 1,837 of the damaged sites and currently working on another 402 sites. More than $6.6 million has been encumbered to fund project contracts, with $2.8 million expended. Among these projects are:
  • Blue Springs Drive/Crescent Lake Repairs: Substantial storm water run-off washed out segments of Blue Springs Drive and private property over a 2,000-foot pathway between East Shore Drive and Clearwater Avenue. Roadway washouts exceeded 10 feet in depth and cut off access to approximately 30 homes. Escambia County Public Works, working jointly with contractors and local utility crews, were able to provide temporary access as quickly as two weeks after the storm. Within five weeks, temporary roadway and utility repairs were complete. More than $400,000 has been spent on emergency repairs and construction of $560,000 in permanent repairs is underway.
  • Johnson Avenue Repairs: The east end of Johnson Avenue near Olive Road was washed out at a major culvert crossing, leaving a 20-foot deep gap in the roadway. Design and construction of temporary repairs was completed within 12 weeks post-event at a cost of $500,000, providing access to the nearly 5,000 vehicles that use this portion of the road each day.
  • Galvin Avenue Repairs: An overwhelmed storm water system at Galvin Avenue in the Springdale Forest area washed out, cutting off access to 28 properties and destroying one home. More than $45,000 in temporary roadway and utility repairs were completed within three weeks of the flood, providing property owners with access to their homes. Construction of permanent repairs will commence shortly.
  • County Storm Water Pond Repair: Repair work to the more than 110 retention pond locations with reported damage began the day after the flood, with 50 sites repaired by county crews at a cost of more than $475,000. An additional 30 sites are currently under contract for approximately $600,000 in engineering design and repair work.

Pictured top: This photo was taken by the occupants of a vehicle in the Highway 29 flood waters looking back toward Burger King, near the time one woman drowned in the flood waters.  Pictured top inset: Rain fell so rapidly that it flooded the I-10 bridge over Escambia Bay. Pictured below: Possessions lined Bristol Park Road after the floodwater receded.  NorthEscambia.com and reader submitted photos, click to enlarge.

Wednesday Is Deadline To Request A Mailed Absentee Ballot

October 28, 2014

Wednesday is the deadline for voters who wish to be mailed an absentee ballot for the November 4 General Election to make their request, according to Escambia County Supervisor of Elections David Stafford.

Voters can make their request by contacting the Supervisor of Elections by mail, phone (850-595-3900), fax (850-595-3914), e-mail (absentee@escambiavotes.com), or by using the online form at EscambiaVotes.com. Requests must include the voter’s date of birth and address. Absentee voters may track the status of  their ballot by clicking Track My Ballot at EscambiaVotes.com.

After Wednesday, a voter may still pick up an absentee ballot in person from the Elections

Office through Monday, November 3. Voted absentee ballots must be received in the Elections

Office (not at a polling location) no later than 7:00 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, November 4.

In addition, early voting is being offered daily through Saturday at seven area locations:

  • Molino Community Center,  6450 Highway 95A North, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Escambia County Extension Service, 3740 Stefani Road, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Genealogy Branch Library, 5740 N. 9th Avenue, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Main Library, 239 N. Spring Street, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Bellview/Saufley Early Vote Site, 4607 Saufley Field Road, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Supervisor of Elections Main Office, 213 Palafox Place, Second Floor, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Southwest Branch Library, 12248 Gulf Beach Highway, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

A third option for voters is to cast a ballot at their precinct on Election Day – polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. Voters are encouraged to be sure to know where to vote on Election Day by checking their Voter Information Card, sample ballot, the precinct finder at EscambiaVotes.com, or by contacting the Supervisor of Elections Office  by phone or email prior to Election Day. Voters  who need to change their address should contact the elections office prior to Election Day.

Charges Dropped Against Cantonment Burglary Suspect

October 28, 2014

Charges have been dropped against  Flomaton man arrested after his girlfriend posted a “selfie” Facebook photo that the victims believed to show stolen goods in the background.

All charges in the case were dropped against Colby Wayne Satterwhite, 22, according to the State Attorney’s Office. at the request of the victims.

Residents of a home in the 300 block of Jacks Branch Road reported that their home had been burglarized sometime during a two day period in which they were gone. They returned home to find a exterior door pushed open, and missing items including $200 in cash, a large collection of collectable coins, a camera, a Mossberg shotgun in a tan case and ammunition. The total estimated value of missing items was $15,060.

Acting on a tip, the burglary victims checked the Facebook page of Satterwhite’s girlfriend and spotted what they believed to be her shotgun case in the background of one of the girlfriend’s “selfie” photographs.

But now, the State Attorney’s Office said, the victims no longer believe Satterwhite was involved in the crime. They have instead raised allegations against another individual who has not been charged.

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