The proposed Golf Cart Ordinance rolled quickly through the April 9 Santa Rosa Island Authority Full Board meeting. The ordinance, which allows carts to operate on Pensacola Beach roads, requires that carts move to the shoulder in order to allow vehicular traffic to pass. The ordinance wording includes a prohibition from traveling across the Bob Sikes Bridge and is subject to an annual review. Per the State statute, drivers must be at least 14-years-old and carts must be equipped with proper headlights if operating after dark.
Board Member Dave Pavlock stated, "I knew there were carts being operated on the Beach and I think this is a benefit to the residents. Hearing no adverse comments from our safety director, I am in favor of it."
The ordinance will allow cart owners, drivers and law enforcement guidance on the rules for operation on Pensacola Beach.
The proposed ordinance will be considered by the Escambia County Commission for ratification.
The island will see a few more water born vehicles in the Sound after the Board approved jet ski rentals be allowed behind Castaways. Owner Guy Olano's request to offer six jet skis for rent was approved. Board Chairman Tammy Bohannon voted against the proposal citing safety and congestion concerns.
The island's tourists will be greeted at a new Visitor's Center, after engineers and architects worked through the construction challenges posed by a gas line located in the proposed location at the northern point of the Casino Beach parking lot. According to Architect John Tice, the building placement was reconfigured and after staff's negotiation with the contractor, the project should be ready to move forward.
Baskerville Donovan Engineer Mike Langston updated the Board on the island-wide landscape project, which is paid for by Portofino Beautification Funds, but administered by Escambia County. The Via de Luna landscaping is nearing completion, but the project was expanded to include Fort Pickens Road. According to Escambia County Engineer Matt Mooneyham the County Commission will review a change order at their April 29 meeting, which, if approved, would include landscaping for Fort Pickens Road and traffic calming improvements at Portofino. The plantings would likely be scheduled after the summer season.
Ron Ellington, executive director of Strategic Planning for Innisfree Hotels, appeared before the Board during their Visitor’s Forum to announce that the State of Florida will make a decision about additional funding for Beach renourishment by the end of April. If the State funds their half of Pensacola Beach’s $17 million renourishment project, their must be local matching funds.
"At this moment in time, all they have is our comments that we can find the local match," said Ellington. "The feedback we have from some of the members of the Legislative Delegation is that we should specifically identify the source of the local matching funds."
Board member Janice Gilley said, "We know that beach renourishment is necessary. We need to find that money."
SRIA staff will work with Chairman Bohannon and Escambia County to report on funding sources at a Special Board Meeting, prior to the April 23 Committee Meetings. The meeting will begin at 5 p.m. at #1 Via de Luna and is open to the public.