Navarre Area United, the political action committee aimed to incorporate Navarre, will miss its goal of placing the issue on the August primary election ballot, following difficulties getting required signatures and funding for the related study amid the Coronavirus pandemic and quarantine.
“We’re not stopping. It’s just a setback,” said Jonathan Cole, PAC spokesman. “We’re still moving forward.”
Cole said after talking with Santa Rosa County Supervisor of Elections Tappie Villane the PAC will try to piggy back on any special election between now and 2022 when the next scheduled elections will take place.
“The money started drying up back in January when we started hearing about the virus,” Cole said. “Some business owners had promised large contributions but wanted to wait and see what was happening. Then the shut down happened.”
Cole said the PAC had a lot of momentum and had planned to have a feasibility study ready by now ahead of the August 18 election so that voters could make an informed decision.
According to Cole, some misconceptions about the matter remain, and the PAC will continue to work to educate Navarre residents on the issues.
“Some think city government would be expensive with more taxes and restrictions. Others on social media claim it’s a power grab,” Cole said. “The truth is that it would be the best opportunity for Navarre to control Navarre — instead of having county commissioners, three of five of whom are in the north end, making our decisions.”
Cole pointed out a recent example of needing more locally made decisions was the reopening of Navarre Beach following the COVID-19 closure. Initially county commissioners wanted to limit reopening with respect to parking and hours and also delay discussions reopening of the pier.
“Everyone is griping about the county commission. This is a way to fix it – you take it on locally,” Cole said.
Additionally, Cole said incorporation would be a way for Navarre to pursue grants and other funding which are only available to local municipalities. He pointed out that the City of Gulf Breeze and the City of Milton both take advantage of those opportunities for infrastructure and other improvements, such as parks and recreation.
Currently the Navarre Park improvement project is not only delayed roughly one year but also the previously planned funding has been reduced. Cole indicated that having a local city government would allow for better management of such projects.
Cole also said that although the city would start out on a “shoe string” budget that it would be able to have a planning & zoning with a “true master plan” and an economic development department with people actively recruiting industries and investors to Navarre.
For more information about the effort visit https://www.naupac.org/