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Pensacola considers superfund site as potential site for detention facility.

The four Pensacola properties under consideration as potential sites for a new 1,476-bed detention facility will all move forward for further review, however at least one will also be considered for purposes other than a jail.

Escambia County commissioners voted unanimously to begin performing due diligence on the Superfund site at Beggs Lane and N. Palafox Street with the intention of possibly using the area for economic development. The land is spread out on four parcels and it totals 69 acres.

It has been vacant for some time, and this is the first time in several years the county has expressed an interest in looking at developing the site, said County Attorney Alison Rogers.

District 3 County Commissioner Lumon May represents the area. "There is an opportunity for manufacturing and there is an opportunity for retail," May told the News Journal. "I am always open to private-public partnerships and my district interconnects with the city, so I am open to working with the mayor (Ashton Hayward) and the city council (on developing the land)."

The land is blighted and it needs to be developed, but if the site is selected as the best location for a jail, the county board of commissioners will have to decide if that should be the priority over any other development on the land, May said.

The EPA and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection wanted to turn the land over to the county years ago, but the county wasn't interested, Rogers said. Then the city was interested, but for various reasons the city's plans for the land never took off.

Portions of the site need clearance from the federal and state governments to be used.

"There are long-term care requirements like monitoring the ground water and not disturbing certain parts of the site, which is why you wouldn't just want to give it to a private party that wouldn't pay attention to those requirements," Rogers said.

The motion the commissioners passed directs county staff to do property appraisals and it could mean doing surveys and environmental studies, Rogers added. And the timeline for developing will depend on whether the county commissioners want it considered as a jail site or not. If it is eliminated from consideration as a jail site, there isn't a timeline at this point.

Commissioners hope to reach a decision on a jail location, or at least narrow the field to one or two strong finalists, within the next four months.

Source: Pensacola News Journal

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Publication:Hazardous Waste Superfund Alert
Date:Feb 25, 2015
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