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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; TEXT-INDENT: 0.5in">On Monday September 28, a committee meeting about the future of the new Pensacola Fishing Bridge was held on the fourth floor of City Hall. Mike Flowers and Ed Fish of the Florida Sportsman radio show and myself meet with David Flaherty of the City of Pensacola Parks and Recreation and some of his staff to debate the future usage of the new fishing bridge. Butch Condon and Shaun Condon were also serving on this committee. The main debate is whether or not to allow cars on the new fishing bridge. Mike, Ed, and myself want cars allowed on the bridge, whereas Tom, Shaun, and the staff of Parks and Recreation want pedestrians only on the bridge. After two hours of debate about this subject a decision was made to hold a town hall meeting at the new Sander?s Beach Community center in the near future. The City wants your input. They look at this as more than just a fishing bridge, but as a recreation facility that involves more than just fishermen. <SPAN style="mso-tab-count: 1"> <SPAN style="mso-tab-count: 1"> The idea of split usage of the bridge was discussed. By split usage I mean on one weekend allowing cars on the bridge and on the following weekend allowing pedestrians only. An even /odd system of the weekends on the calendar could be put in place for the split usage of the bridge. By doing this City could see first hand what brings the people and the money in. After doing this for a while a permanent decision could be made on what is best for the bridge.<SPAN style="mso-tab-count: 1"> <SPAN style="mso-tab-count: 1"> The City has not decided the future of the day-to-day operation of the gate and store yet either. The City may run it themselves, but must likely will contract the management of the bridge to the private sector. Anyone interested in running the bridge needs to contact Buddy Connelly [436-5679] with the City of Pensacola Parks and Recreation. He?s looking at his options and is interested in who the players are should they decide to contract out the day-to-day operation. <SPAN style="mso-tab-count: 1"> The fourteen fish attracting lights on the bridge was also discussed. Some of you on the forum had mentioned that by allowing cars on the bridge would eliminate the amount of people who could get the good spots at night around these lights. The solution to this problem is to paint the areas around the lights yellow and make them no parking areas. This will allow a lot more fisherman around the lights at night. <SPAN style="mso-tab-count: 1"> <SPAN style="mso-tab-count: 1"> Mr. Flaherty made it perfectly clear that the City Manager Al Coby has no money what so ever to subsidize the bridge. The bridge must break even. I personally think that the only way this will happen is by letting cars on the bridge. From 1989 to 1997 the Pensacola side of the old bridge was walk on only due structural instability of the bridge. Very few people used the Pensacola side then, most fishermen crossed the Three Mile Bridge and paid to drive on the Gulf Breeze side of the fishing bridge.<SPAN style="mso-tab-count: 1"> Admission on the new bridge will be $6.00 per person. Before hurricane Ivan destroyed the old bridge the price of admission was $1.00 per car and $2.00 per person in the car.<SPAN style="mso-tab-count: 1"> <SPAN style="mso-tab-count: 1"> Something I found very interesting was that both Mr. Flaherty and Mr. Connelly had spent time looking at the Forums to see what you guys had to say about my post. They even quoted some of you several times. At the time of this post 2,026 of you on the Pensacola Fishing Forum and 176 of you on the Emerald Coast Pier Fishing Forum have looked at my original post about the bridge. This shows a tremendous amount of interest by you the fishing public and I think they took notice of that fact.<SPAN style="mso-tab-count: 1"> <P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; TEXT-INDENT: 0.5in">Fellows here is the bottom line, this new bridge belongs to all of us in Escambia County. What do you want? The date for the town hall meeting has not yet been set. The time to act and be heard is now. Every fisherman who plans on using the new fishing bridge needs to attend this meeting! <P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; TEXT-INDENT: 0.5in"><?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p><P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; TEXT-INDENT: 0.5in"><o:p></o:p><P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; TEXT-INDENT: 0.5in">I?ll see you there.<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; TEXT-INDENT: 0.5in">Michael Hoyt Williamson<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; TEXT-INDENT: 0.5in">[email protected]<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; TEXT-INDENT: 0.5in">850-572-6342
 

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While I LIKE the idea of vehicles on the bridge it REALLY does not seem wide enough, which INEVITABLY will lead to problems, a car backing over someones gear will indeed light fuses. I am sure that if EVERYONE used manners and courtesy it could be done, but you know as well as I do there will be those that will leave their gear and or vehicles in the way of others and then dare them to move or touch it and there WILL BE PROBLEMS.
 

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In the other thread it was mentioned that the new pier is wider than the old pier by six inches. So the arguement that it is not wide enough does not hold water since vehicles were allowed on the old.



I will definitely attend the town hall meeting.



The fishing pier is an Escambia County property/project/asset, etc. not a City of Pensacola thing. The City of Pensacola owns the concession building and the landed stuff on the north end.



Escambia County has asked the city to run the pier, But is the city running the pier a done deal or is the county waiting to see if the city wants to take it? Is it the Escambia County's intention to turn the fishing pier over to the city fully, deed and all or just lease it out to the city so that the city has control of the entire operation?



Another wringer in the whole thing is the lawsuit that former pier leaseholder John Soule has brought against the county.

He is asking for at least reimbursement of his expenses and investment that he made in improvements. Namely the work needed to allow cars to drive on the fishing bridge.

Ivan came along too soon after his investment to re-coup those costs over the expected lifespan of his lease.

FEMA would not give the county replacement funds for the damaged fishing pier unless Soule gave up his lease and turned it over to the county, which he did but did not have to do.
 

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The fourteen fish attracting lights on the bridge was also discussed. Some of you on the forum had mentioned that by allowing cars on the bridge would eliminate the amount of people who could get the good spots at night around these lights. The solution to this problem is to paint the areas around the lights yellow and make them no parking areas. This will allow a lot more fisherman around the lights at night.
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I'm pretty sure no parking areas on the bridge aren't going to help the fact that its going to be over crowded with vehicle traffic to begin with. Of course everything at this point is just random guesses. The bridge might be empty 90% of the time, or it might be packed. We just don't know yet, so I like the idea of walk on one week and drive on the next. Do this for a year and keep detailed notes about weather conditions, water conditions, whats biting, etc. Then make the decision at the end of the year
 

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I believe thecommittee should maintain a "Pre-Ivan" mentality.Allow drive ons, it is that simple.

If vehicle over crowding is an issue once itopens or if it isa "pre-open" concern of the committee, simplyplace a vehicle limit on the bridge / fishing pier.

When the limit is reached, put up the "NO Vacancy" sign, forthe vehicles only.

Andthen only allow walk-ons.

I believe itis that simple.

Think : "Pre-Ivan Life Style"
 

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I totally agree with BananaTom.



We have had "ENOUGH" Change. :(



We want the KISS "Keep It Simple Stupid" method.



If I can't drive on with my gear....I'm not going. Dragging gear back and forth is a total PITA.



You say buy a wagon or pier cart. I say I don't need another piece of junk to use once in a while laying around the house.....Besides they are making cars smaller now and that stuff will not fit.
 

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I live in Tenn and come down to Pensacola quite often for the fishing. If the the new bridge does not alllow cars to drive on I probably will not use it.The novelty of driving your car on is what took me to the old bridge and would bring me to the new one. There is alot of bridges and piers to fish at in your area, make the new alittle different!
 

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"The City wants your input. They look at this as more than just a fishing bridge, but as a recreation facility that involves more than just fishermen."



<SPAN style="mso-tab-count: 1">What other activitiesis the city thinking can go on on a third of a fishing bridge. Are they going to put a playground on the end?? This thing has been mismanaged from the very beginning, starting withrelocation of the funds from FEMA to rebuild the whole bridge. Instead we get apier, that if you drive to the very end and strain your eyes, you can seethe spot where the fish used to be caught.Now I am supposed to consider it a recreational multiuse area.If you can't drive on, I won't use it. I wont look on a calender to see if it's fishermens weekend, or yoga day on the bridgeto make my decision. Ifit's not a fishing bridge I will not be using it. Allow carsuntill it reaches parking capacity and then allow walk-ons.:banghead<SPAN style="mso-tab-count: 1">
 

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sorry guys but this isn't 2003 and pre-ivan anymore lots of things have changed...and one of them is that the new bridge is only 2500' and the old bridge was around 7500'
 

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I have been away from the forum for a while and just now saw this info. I am wondering if there is any more info that has come to light.

As for my .02:

We can't use the pre-Ivan arguement unless you can build it back exactly the way it was and rebuild the GB side. I don't think you can ask the new fishing bridge to shoulder the full load of what the old one used to. Think about it for a minute. The old one used to be2 miles long right? Don't forget to include the GB side. Now you want to cram 3 miles worth of cars onto 1/2 mile worth of bridge. It used to be drive on and it worked fine for just about everybody but I think with less space comes less patience.

I agree about the convenience and luxury of being able to drive onto the bridge. I have very fond memories growing up fishing on the old bridge and napping in the backseat or hiding from a rain shower. I really would like to be able to drive. I was looking forward to driving on itcome January. But I have my doubts about the feasability.

I do like the idea of trying it out both ways. Over the period of a year give it 6 months of driving and 6 months of walking, divided up however and see what the data tells you.

If it is going to be walking, I think there should be some kind of golf cart type transport for a buck or two per person and free for seniors and disabled.
 

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I think the bottom line is they created a pier , a really STRONG pier, not a bridge. They made it too short.

Most everyone wants to be in the middle of the bay, and this thing doesnt even come close to the middle. So who is gonna even use the first 2000ft? 99% of the people are going to want to be at the end. You gonna fit everyone's car and gear in the last 100ft? Look at the beach pier. Look how many people crowd the end of it. It will be the same way. Everyone wanting to be at the end.

Simple solution? Add about another 2500 ft and make the damn thing a bridge like it should have been. Course thats gonna cost 2x as much, and Im sure they spent too much already.
 

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I believe the fishing bridge should be drive on. I have a brother-in- law that is 75 years old and comes to Pensacola from Mississippi to fish the bridge with me 10 to 15 times a year. His always buys a freshwater and saltwater license at the tune of $95.00. He can not walk over a 100 feet at a time without rest. He is retired Air Force and was stationed at Eglin for 9 years and fished the bridge every weekend he could. He loves Pensacola and was looking forward to the bridge opening. He will be heartbroken when he finds out he will never be able to fish it again if they make it a walk on. I have fished it from day one when they opened it andI cannot walk it eather, but I have a boat that I can replace the bridge with. I live in the City and am ashamed of the way our city and County officials "ThINK" They messed this up from the start.
 

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Any news on this meeting talked about??
 
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