By Kimberly Blair, PNJ, April 16, 2015:
If you love Pensacola Beach events like Bands on the Beach or the Blue Angels Air show, your opinion is needed.
Or if you could care less about how clean the beach and its public bathrooms are kept, mark your calendars.
West Florida Regional Planning Council has been contracted to study its organizational structure of the Island Authority and funding sources to figure out ways to continue to pay for beach services the public expects on the island, if lease fees are reduced.
As part of that process, the Council is hosting a public forum at 5:30 p.m. April 23 at the Pensacola Beach Community Church, 920 Panferio Drive, Pensacola Beach.
Island Authority board member Janice Gilley, who advocated for public input during this process, said the forum will provide the platform for residents, beach business owners and employees and people who visit the beach to have their opinions heard about this issue.
"The most important thing is; this is the island's government body," she said. "If you would like to maintain the current structure, it's important to let the (Island Authority) board and county know this. If you would like to see major changes in the current government structure, you need to have your voices heard.”
Whatever decisions are made, there will likely be financial implications to beach residents and the public — such as reduced lease fees and possible adoption of other fees the public may have to pay to make up for the loss of lease fees, which funds the $8.9 million Island Authority budget.
This will be the first time the public has had this opportunity to voice their opinions about their vision for the future of the beach outside of Island Authority or county board meetings.
Since the SRIA was created by the Florida legislature in 1947, it has been fully funded from lease fees collected from businesses and residences on the beach.
The mission of the SRIA is "to promote tourism, manage growth and provide entertainment in a safe, clean, eco-friendly environment."
From public works and public safety, to environmental and development services and events, Island Authority services include: Blue Angels Beach Show and Bands on the Beach; funding of the Pensacola Beach Visitors Information Center and Chamber of Commerce; road and right-of-way maintenance; wayfinding and public information signage; drainage; parking lots; lighting; facility maintenance; beach access; coordination with law enforcement, fire/rescue/EMS and other public safety agencies; management of lease payments and customer service; and review of construction, development and redevelopment to ensure they are consistent with applicable local, state and federal regulations.
For more information, contact WFRPC Regional Planner Vikki Garrett at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (850) 332-7976, ext. 211.
View details about what the Island Authority operates at http://sria-fla.com/viewpoint.php.