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Weather Delays Construction At Santa Rosa Courthouse

A rendering of what the completed Santa Rosa County Courthouse will look like.
A rendering of what the completed Santa Rosa County Courthouse will look like.

The wet weather between January and July has delayed the completion of the new Santa Rosa County Courthouse on Avalon Boulevard.

At the regular County Commission meeting Tuesday, commissioners were asked to OK a 30-day delay in the construction completion of the $33.4 million contract. They approved the request.

County Administrator Dan Schebler, who is leaving office next month, said the change order means the courthouse completion date will be Jan. 8 instead of Dec. 9. He said in addition to the weather, the construction was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the delays in shipping construction materials.

In other action, commissioners:

  • Agreed to contribute $25,000 a year for two years to the city of Gulf Breeze’s façade improvement program. City officials estimated 64 eligible businesses and complexes would be eligible to participate in the grant program. The city established the program to “address blight, foster economic development, and protect property values within its Community Redevelopment Area. Funds will be granted to businesses to enhance storefront façades, complete storm damage repairs, and address deferred maintenance issues that improve aesthetics.” County staff justified the expense because “City businesses have been impacted by the COVID‐19 pandemic, Hurricane Sally, and most substantially – the closure of the Pensacola Bay Bridge. Before the bridge closure, an estimated 60,000 cars traveled daily through the City of Gulf Breeze. As a result of this nearly 9-month loss in drive‐by traffic, city business revenues have substantially decreased and some businesses have reduced staff and operating hours to stay in business which has delayed hurricane recovery.” Gulf Breeze Mayor Cherry Fitch addressed commissioners Tuesday and said the bridge closure turned the city into a “cul de sac” for nine months. She said business have been hurt because of the bridge as well as the inability to hire enough workers. “They’ve taken a beating,” the mayor said.
  • Approved paying Gulf Power $177,033 as final payment to provide electric utility infrastructure to Whiting Aviation Park. The project is paid for with Triumph compensation money paid to the county following the BP oil spill in 2010.
  • Approved the final, one-year renewal of the tourism advertising agency contract with Paradise Advertising Agency of St. Petersburg for $850,000. The tourist development board of directors recommended approval on Aug. 5.
  • OK’d the Special Event Application from the Navarre Krewe of Jesters to host the 36th Annual Navarre Krewe of Jesters Mardi Gras Parade. The parade is scheduled for 1 p.m. Feb. 19. The route will be Gulf Boulevard proceeding east and from Indiana to the Navarre Beach Marine Park. County officials said the Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Department estimated last year there were between 39,000 and 45,000 spectators. The Navarre Krewe of Jesters will provide sanitation stations throughout the parade route, the application said.
  • Discussed and approved Creepy Hollow Woods' request for a noise variance for their annual “Halloween-themed haunted trail” in Jay. The event is scheduled for Sept. 24 and 25, and Oct. 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, and 30. In the summary background, county staff said the variance is needed because of any sound that might exceed the county noise ordinance between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. during the event.
  • Announced a Household Hazardous Waste Amnesty Day on Oct. 23 at the city of Gulf Breeze Community Center.
Tom Ninestine is the managing editor at WUWF. He began August 1, 2019. Tom is a native of Geneva, New York, and a 1983 graduate of King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where he studied journalism and political science. During a 29-year career in newspapers he worked for the Finger Lakes Times in his hometown; The Daily Item in Sunbury, Pennsylvania; and the Pensacola News Journal from 1998-2016.