Santa Rosa Island Authority

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

In our recent report on the 40th anniversary of Hurricane Frederic, much of the focus was the storm’s impact on the large dunes that existed on Pensacola Beach at the time.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at the formation and importance of coastal dunes, ongoing threats, and efforts to grow and stabilize them. 

Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce

Businesses along the Florida Panhandle are gearing up for this weekend’s unofficial kickoff to summer.  Many are planning “drive-to” destinations for the Memorial Day weekend — such as Pensacola Beach.

“We already have a lot of people coming in; we’re excited for the summer and hope everybody enjoys our beach just as much as we do,” says Alison Westmoreland, director of the Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce.

What happens during Memorial Day weekend, she says, sets the tone for the rest of the summer.

Abigail Megginson / WUWF

No one wants to pay for the same thing twice, but that’s what some beach residents are concerned about and trying to fight against.

“It’s just frankly not fair. We’re paying lease fees, we’re paying taxes,” said beach resident and President of the Pensacola Beach Advocates Terry Preston.

Ever since a court decision in 2011, residents have had to pay both property taxes to the county and lease fees to the island authority.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Spring break along the Florida Panhandle’s sugar-white beaches is just around the corner, and the Santa Rosa Island Authority is out with some advice on how to make the visit a safe one.

Figures from Escambia County show 30,000 more visitors to Pensacola and Perdido Beaches last March than in March 2017, and the numbers are expected to be larger this time around. Paolo Ghio is Director of the Santa Rosa Island Authority, and says they’re ready after a busy off-season. 

Courtesy of PSouth

A beach cleanup project during the annual LGBT Beach Reunion during Memorial Day Weekend – at Pensacola Beach and Park East is aimed at keeping the sand and water beautiful during and just after the holiday.

More than 75,000 people – lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender – are expected to gather on the beach, mainly in the Park East section of Santa Rosa Island. And when a crowd that size forms – gay or straight – there’s a vast amount of debris that’s left behind. That’s where PSouth Operation Beach Cleanup comes in.

Photo via Flickr// Jandy Stone / https://flic.kr/p/gXJzd

In case you missed the first one, another lifeguard tryout is scheduled for April 30 by the Santa Rosa Island Authority.

Candidates are asked to be at the UWF Aquatic Center a little before 1:00 p.m. on that Saturday, to fill out the paperwork for a possible spot at Pensacola or Johnson Beaches.

Santa Rosa Island Authority

After a decade on the job, Buck Lee retired earlier this month as Executive Director of the Santa Rosa Island Authority. He recently sat down with WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody to look back, and to look forward.

Did the takeovers of the Santa Rosa Island Authority’s Public Works and Public Safety Departments hasten your decision to step down?

Bob Barrett / WUWF News

    

On Tuesday morning Chris Carter was loading the metal skeleton of a pop up beach tent onto the trailer of his truck. The Gulf Breeze resident says things looked a lot different over the weekend. "Over the weekend it looked like a catastrophe. There were these pop-up tents and tents and air mattresses and floats. The storms came through...Sunday morning and everyone left in a panic and the beach was in disarray."

Bob Barrett / WUWF News

The Santa Rosa Island Authority is at a bit of a crossroads.

The authority, which provides many services and events on Pensacola Beach, has been funded over the years, for the most part, with the lease fees paid by homeowners on the island. However, those home owners are now also being charged ad valorem property taxes. Some have called paying both property taxes and lease fees a form of double-taxation.

Gulf Power

Gulf Power and the Santa Rosa Island Authority are teaming up on a project to make Pensacola Beach a bit safer for both humans and sea turtles.

SRIA

  

The Santa Rosa Island Authority has agreed to hire a community planner to prepare for a future where its primary source of funding could soon disappear.

Photo via Flickr//Ben Ferenchak

Dangerous surf conditions along the local beaches are in the forecast for early this week, as the number of lifeguards on Pensacola Beach are at their normal October reduction in force. Red flags are also up at Navarre Beach in Santa Rosa County, where lifeguards will be on duty through October 31.

Blue Angels

Final preparations are being made on Santa Rosa Island, for next weekend’s Blue Angels air show, the first since 2012. 

For Buck Lee, Executive Director of the Santa Rosa Island Authority, what a difference a year makes. He says the cancelation of most of the flight demonstration team’s 2013 season now has many of their fans viewing them in a new light.

Photo via Instagram// @wynnayscue

People are crowding onto Santa Rosa Island for the Memorial Day weekend. Many are looking forward to the beach parties that mark the annual mostly LGBT gathering at Park East.

About 150,000 people attended the LGBT-related events last Memorial Day. And organizer Johnny Chism is expecting higher numbers this time around. A number of events are on tap at Emerald City on Wright Street – the downtown Pensacola bar owned by Chism and considered the headquarters for the LGBT weekend.

Lifeguards returned to the beaches of Santa Rosa Island and Perdido Key this weekend, and are preparing for spring breakers and the 2014 summer tourist season. 

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