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Robinson to Visit Tallahassee, D.C.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson and other city officials will spend part of October on the road – first in Tallahassee, then in Washington, D.C.

First stop is Tallahassee this week. At his weekly briefing, Robinson said a top goal is to have a good working relationship with state and federal officials.

“I think we’ve been able to achieve that, it doesn’t mean that we’re always going to agree,” said Robinson. “We’ve had some differences with [Florida Department of Transportation]; I really appreciate their staff and the work that we’ve got. I’m hoping to meet with Sec. [Kevin] Thibault in Tallahassee. Clearly having those relationships with those agencies, even if we don’t agree, it’s good things to do.”

The city is also looking into working with FDOT on funding a bike and pedestrian trail on Scenic Highway, stretching from East Pensacola Heights out to Nine Mile Road, and then from there over the causeway to Santa Rosa County.

“We believe that will really be a connector, and [the] ability to connect downtown all the way throughout to the trails at UWF, into Santa Rosa County,” said the Mayor. “So we see that as a real amenity that can happen. It was the first ‘Scenic Highway’ in the state of Florida – another first we have in this community. So we think it’s a good fit.”

Also expected to be discussed is trying to find some money to upgrade drainage along Main Street, along with related projects.

“But if we’re in there putting in 60-inch pipe, we might as well go ahead and replace the road and put sidewalks in; those are things we want to do on Main Street,” Robinson said. “[DOT] was good enough last year to put some money in there for us to do some design work; and we’ll put in the drainage if they can help us redo the road and put in the sidewalks.”

Next week, the Mayor and his entourage head for the nation’s capital. With talk of impeaching President Trump, the plight of the Kurds and other hot-button issues, Robinson says they’ll try to keep out of politics and focus on working with federal agencies to get “good stuff” for Pensacola.

“We try to remind people that in local government, there’s not a Democrat or Republican way to pick up garbage; there’s not a Democrat or Republican way to fill a pothole,” Robinson said. “When it comes down to it, we’re the basic level of services and we have to keep that going. But I think they understand that; on both sides of the aisle they are receptive to us coming up there and working with us. And they’re always looking for ideas to help.”

Having served on the Escambia County Commission during the Obama and Trump administrations — and now as mayor — Robinson says when working with the feds on grassroots issues, there’s been no difference between the two.

“I found them to be very willing to work with us if we’ve gone up there and expressed what we’re looking to do,” said the Mayor. “And that’s what we’re going to try to do. We’ll try to stay out of the politics and just stay focused on how we can help Pensacola.”

The D.C. trip will also feature participation in the visit by the Florida League of Cities. One of the major local issues expected to be raised will be about infrastructure both in the city, and in Escambia County.

“Maybe not directly in the city of Pensacola, but they impact the city of Pensacola,” said Robinson. “We support the [Escambia County] Commission, and what they’re trying to do with the Beulah Interchange – anything along those lines. If we can just remind people up there that these things are important to the city of Pensacola as well, even if they may not be directly in the city.”

Closer to home, Robinson plans to meet with Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson to work on regional issues.

“The five largest cities in Alabama, the mayors have started getting together; and in a lot of ways he and I share more in common than he does with the other four largest mayors in the state of Alabama,” said Robinson. “We’re looking at other things, we don’t have any initiatives now, but as we go forward I think those are things that we’ll continue to discuss ways that we can work across state lines.”

Mayor Robinson and District-4 Councilman Jared Moore will conduct a town hall meeting in the district on Oct. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Vickrey Resource Center, located at 2130 Summit Blvd.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.