Bruce Beach amenities part of another grant application

November 7, 2017

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
Approach: $25,000
Sidewalk: $60,000
Overlooks adjacent to the mitigation site:$50,000
Kayak Ramp:$25,000

Total: $427,000

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?

Read Application and Attachments.

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  • Aaron Nemaus November 10, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Funny how everyone is in agreement on your blog. Nothing like an echo chamber to justify your own actions. The lawsuit is costing the tax payers because YOU initiated the lawsuit. I stand for the hatchery along with countless other Penasacolians. Please don’t attribute your view point with the masses. They are yours and yours alone.

    • Rick Outzen November 13, 2017 at 8:35 am

      I didn’t initiate the lawsuit. The PNJ first reported on the legal issues surrounding the lease –“void” clause and lack of CRA approval. Also I made not attributions in this post. I point out the fact that the touted amenities are in a separate grant that has yet to be awarded. No opinion, fact. If “countless” Pensacolians support the hatchery, let’s have a referendum. Then you can prove your viewpoint.


  • CJ Lewis November 8, 2017 at 11:53 am

    The City Council members serve as the CRA Board. It would be interesting to know if any of them acting in either role ever expressed concern about the CRA being cut out of the loop. As one odd twist, until October 1, 2016, CRA Administrator Helen Gibson was supervised not by the CRA Chairperson but by Mayor Hayward who unilaterally asserted that power acting contrary to law. Why? No one on the City Council/CRA knew or wanted to know that the City Charter limits the Mayor’s authority to personnel he supervised in the executive branch. Like the DIB, and the fraudulent Enterprise Zone Development Agency now gone, the CRA is an agency of the city and a separate legal entity. For years, I provided the City Council/CRA with a copy of a state law that goes one step further and expressly authorizes the CRA to employ its own staff. When I asked, I had one Council/CRA member after another tell me that they had not read the document I sent. John Jerralds once even bragged that he deleted unread everything I sent to the Council. Why is this important? I think it helps to explain why CRA Administrator Helen Gibson kept quiet if she did about the resolution and CRA Plan. Had she said anything in 2014 when the City Council was considering the fish hatchery lease, Hayward could have fired Gibson and the Council/CRA would have let him. The odd thing is that the Council seems to be doing nothing to stand up to Hayward’s assertion that “the city” finds the lease to be valid. In 2009, CRC Chairwoman Crystal Spencer said that most of the Mayor’s powers would be the same as those of the City Manager he replaced. Could City Manager Al Coby have claimed to be the highest authority in the city government? Of course, not. It seems to me that the thing not yet done is for the Council to repeal the authority it delegated to Hayward with respect to the lease. The Council could find that all actions taken by the city on or after May 12, 2017 are null and void. That said, the Council should retain its own legal counsel because it remains legally defenseless if relying upon City Attorney Lysia “Yes, Mayor!” Bowling to be a fair umpire of the legal issues. She bows to the Mayor and no one else.

  • Sherri myers November 7, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    It is costing the citizens. The property is appraised at around 7 million for property tax purposes. That is an investment with a known value. What is not known, but should be known is the fair market value. Bypassing the CRA process resulted in the project being approved and leased for $50.00 a year without an appraisal..

    • George Hawthorne November 8, 2017 at 8:01 am

      So what will the Council do about this mess? It is quite a disturbing fact that the Council would let such a fiscal tragedy continue. Now there is a lawsuit that will surely cost the city’s taxpayers once again from a Mayor that won’t follow the law or contractual agreements.

    • EPenn November 8, 2017 at 8:45 am

      You will not get one penny of tax revenue from that site ever. How do I know? Because if there were that many people fighting for this property they would have already been building in the Maritime Park, which remains empty and so will this property if they don’t go ahead with the hatchery project. Everyone looses.

  • Qualified November 7, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    So saying that the hatchery will not cost the City anything is now also a lie. It is costing us the opportunity to spend these funds on other, higher priorities.

  • EPenn November 7, 2017 at 11:35 am

    I will be surprised if they actually can put it there since that area is in the FDEP conservation area, and would need FDEP approval, which is a long process in most cases. Just throwing that out there…