PCI road proposal approved

Published 11:09 am Friday, October 5, 2007

By By Lisa Tindell
The Escambia County Commission passed a resolution Friday to abandon a portion of County Road 14 at the request of the Poarch Creek Indians, but the resolution had financial stipulations with which PCI cannot agree.
The road was targeted for vacation after the commission received a request from PCI who is looking to expand operations at the Creek Entertainment Center. The plans include a hotel, casino and resort area that would encompass an area currently occupied by the roadway in question.
"We appreciate the work being done on the plans to vacate County Road 14 as we have requested," Buford Rolin, PCI tribal chairman said. "However, we cannot accept this resolution as it is written. We had hoped that you would consider our resolution and allow the road vacation to be separate from any other agreements."
An Intergovernmental Agreement between Escambia County and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians was also included in the road vacation resolution.
Commission chairman David Stokes said the commission understood the sensitive nature of agreement and resolution and would keep that under consideration.
"We understand the delicacy of this situation and will certainly be happy to consider an amendment to the resolution," Stokes said. "I will be happy to work with you to make changes to this resolution. We are still ready willing and able to vacate the road, but there has to be some consideration for the county."
In the Intergovernmental Agreement, the county stipulated PCI make an annual contribution to the county.
One section of the agreement called for PCI to commit to making a $200,000 payment over a 24-month period that would begin at the execution of the agreement or until the opening of the new facility. An additional stipulation called for annual payments over a six-year period totaling more than $4 million.
Although officials with PCI initially had little problem with the $200,000 payment to aid in costs of law enforcement coverage by the county, the additional stipulated monies are what's in question.
"We could never agree with that," Rolin said. "We are not Hollywood, Fla. We don't have the number of people here that they have there. We understand your position, but I assure you, under no circumstances can we agree to this resolution as it is."
Commissioner Todd Williamson said he was glad to see talks moving forward by both parties.
"I think we have made more progress in the past 24 hours than we have in the last 24 days," Williamson said. "Talking is the only way we can come to an agreement. We are finally headed in the right direction. This is not an ultimatum. We can certainly make some concessions. I certainly don't want this to get to the point where there is a line drawn in the sand."
Rolin said he would talk with commissioners to try to reach an agreement that would be acceptable for the county and PCI.
"In our culture, a man's word is his bond," Rolin said. "My word to you is we are committed to being good neighbors. It is my hope that you will honor your original commitment and vote to vacate County Road 14."
Commissioners and PCI officials agreed to set a time to discuss further options in coming to an agreement on both sides. No date for that meeting was set at the time of adjournment on Friday.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox