Three months after the start of a new parking system in downtown Pensacola, the Downtown Improvement Board’s Executive Director is stepping down.
Curt Morse announced his resignation at Tuesday's DIB meeting but gave no reason why. Chairman John Peacock says Morse actually submitted his resignation on June 6 and was placed on administrative leave for his final month on the job.
“In the past 18 months he’s been here and accomplished a few things that we’re still working on in terms of the parking transition and those kinds of things,” said Peacock. “But they’re works in progress. [Morse] was only here 18 months, so it’s hard to build too much of a legacy during that time.”
There have been myriad complaints by the public about the parking system -- installed by New Orleans-based Premium Parking -- which went online in March. The digital platform covers on-street parking, public lots and parking garages across the 39 blocks of downtown.
Morse did not return messages seeking an interview for this story, but in March spoke about the system helping tackle what he called “symptoms of growth.”
“We’ve got a tremendous amount of private investment going on, with apartment complexes and office buildings,” Morse said. “And the truth in the entire matter is, we don’t have we don’t have a ‘parking problem.’ We oftentimes just have a ‘walking problem.’ People want to park exactly in front of where they want to be and that’s not the reality in a [sic] urbanized core.”
A better understanding of consumer behavior was part of the game plan for the DIB and Premium to develop the new parking structure.
“And that’s what Premium began doing, looking at the entire parking system, and then trying to modernize it,” said Morse. “And we done [sic] a tremendous amount of work in such a short amount of time to really do that.”
One of their main goals, said Morse, was to make sure the user could find the type of parking they want, and use it in a way best for them.
“We determined that a lot of our Millennials -- and even some of the Baby Boomers – have adopted [to] technology,” said Morse. “So now, in Pensacola, you can go to a garage, surface lot, or even on-street and pay by app; by text, you can still conventionally swipe a card or drop a coin.”
Morse tells the Pensacola News Journal that he plans to seek opportunities in the private sector. DIB Chair John Peacock says much remains up in the air in naming a permanent successor. For now, former assistant executive director Lissa Dees will return on an interim basis, until Morse’s contract expires in October.
“From my standpoint I have every confidence that she’s going to prove that she’s worthy of that role,” Peacock said. “But if the board decides in October that they want to do another direction, then we’ll do a search for another executive director.”
Curt Morse’s resignation as Downtown Improvement Board Executive Director comes just days before the release of a report on parking in downtown Pensacola, by the Haas Business Center at the University of West Florida.