Last week, we discovered that the DEP construction plans for the fish hatchery at Bruce Beach did not have many of the amenities that Mayor Hayward’s supporters have touted, such as kayak launch, Baywalk across the entire property and access to the bay. The pedestrian bridge across Washerwoman’s Creek was an alternative.
On social media, Assistant City Administrator Keith Wilkins wrote that the city had applied for a NRDA Enhancement grant to provide the amenities. According to him, the grants will be awarded in the spring of 2018.
In reviewing council meeting videos, we found where Wilkins gave a presentation in August on the various grants and funds tied to the 2010 BP Oil Spill. He told the council that the grant application was for $1.02 million.
Inweekly made a public request for: “NRDA Enhancement Grant application for expansion of public walkways on Bruce Beach, creation of an observation deck at the south end of Clubbs Street, public parking for kayakers at a cul-de-sac also on Clubbs Street, and kayak launch ramp.”
The application we received was from December 2016 and totaled $427,000, not $1.02 million. Wilkins was listed as the contact person.
From the application:
“This project is proposed to provide human use amenities, public water access, environmental and cultural education on the City owned property, of the currently funded NRDA Pensacola FWC Fish Hatchery Project. Amenities will include a Contour pedestrian bridge across Washerwoman’s Creek, a shoreline walkway with benches and interpretive markers, a kayak entrance ramp and waterfront trail on the Fish Hatchery parcel.
“This being one of the last undeveloped shoreline parcels with a natural beach in downtown and the Pensacola westside, a kayak entrance ramp will be installed to provide paddle access to this portion of Pensacola Bay. (It’s shown as a heavy black marker on layout).
“The walkway will include an overlook and signage interpreting the ecology and function of coastal wetlands.”
Here is the budget submitted:
*Estimated Project Costs
Pedestrian Bridge (pre-fabricated): $200,000
Overlooks adjacent to the mitigation site:$50,000
The application also includes this section:
Public Acceptance Describe any known or potential public approval or opposition to the project.
“A large part of the public acceptance to the Hatchery project was the recognition of the site’s past history and significance to the African American population. If these amenities are cut from the project because of cost exceedances, it will cause public opposition and fuel discontent with the completed Hatchery. This project application is to provide a budget enhancement to the Hatchery project in order to keep the public accessibility and recognition in the project, to fulfill that public expectation and provide for public acceptance.”
I guess the question that should be asked by the city council is: Do you need to build the hatchery to get this grant?