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Robinson wraps up time as Pensacola mayor

Grover Robinson

Grover Robinson’s time as Pensacola Mayor doesn’t end until next week, but he held his final solo “Morning with the Mayor” at City Hall on Monday.

“I will be here next Monday [and will] primarily turn it over to [Mayor-elect D.C. Reeves] and allow him to really go through most of the things. He will be taking over next Tuesday,” said the outgoing mayor.

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Two issues to be inherited by the incoming administration are homelessness and affordable housing. Robinson will speak with officials at Baptist Hospital, in the continuing effort to figure out how to convert the old hospital into housing units, as the new hospital nears completion and opening, scheduled for about a year from now.

“We've talked about these things for probably ten months, and so we've talked a little bit about that,” the mayor said. “I do think at some point we will be pursuing something that the city will be involved in helping with. I just don't have all the details at this moment. But I do think there will be something that we will be doing with Baptist Hospital to again create some affordable housing.

“This campus is 51 acres, very near to downtown and waterfront and the interstate. And so we know it's a transformational opportunity that our community might not be able to see again,” said Baptist Vice President Jen Grove earlier this year.

She said they would approach a number of developers, to find the best future for the 71-year-old facility.

“Tell us which pieces and parts or the whole that you're interested in,” Grove said. “And we're going to allow the development community to really be thoughtful and bring their expertise to the table to say, we really need to either [demolish] this or start clean, or there is a reuse potential for maybe a portion of the buildings that are on the campus.”

Part of that mix could be ideas gleaned from other projects, which could be a go here ASAP.

“We've been told it could take decades — we don't want that,” Grove said. “So that is why we are starting now and really trying to get ahead of our move in the fall of 2023, so that we can bring some certainty to this immediate neighborhood and the broader community at large about what will follow us here.”

Later in the news conference, Mayor Grover Robinson reflected on his time on the 7th floor. Bottom line, he said, was to do what was best for the community, and at the same time not creating any kind of political agenda.

“But I remind you, we run totally nonpartisan here at the city of Pensacola,” he said. “And our whole goal of that is to do what's right for citizens. And I think that's what we've tried to do. And we've tried to be fair, even in our application.”

Turning to a laundry list of accomplishments during his term, Robinson began with changing the culture in city government.

“Really establish what was going to happen from the employee side; set together ground rules of any employee handbook,” said Robinson. “Institute a new management tool that really focused on the employees and their engagement and their satisfaction. I think it's been a tremendous success for us and what we've been able to do that can continue to be built on even after I leave.”

Another victory lap by the mayor was the work expanding the city’s Parks and Recreation Department during his term.

“New establishment of the soccer fields; Pensacola now becoming the site of the [Southeastern Conference] women’s soccer tournament,” the mayor said. “But not only that, we were able to make tremendous improvements to Hitzman Park added the dog park added other things and the improvements that we made at Legion Field, stuff that finally we're hoping is going to get roger Scott [Tennis Center] at least twelve new courts.”

Incoming mayor D.C. Reeves has said he would continue the weekly news conferences, but at this point, it’s not known if they will be on Mondays.

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.