Business Pensacola

Less than half of Pensacola voters want $8.25M Bayview Community Center, over 80 percent want more info and input

October 3, 2017

On the eve of the final hearing for Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward’s FY 2018, City Administrator Eric Olson emailed the City Council the master plan for Bayview Park that showed the construction cost of the new Bayview Community Center had risen from $6 million to $8.25 million. The council approved the increase at the Sept. 24 hearing.

However, a recent survey reveals that city leaders may have acted too quickly. Only 53.1 percent of the city’s most likely voters knew the $8.25 million capital project had been approved. A larger percentage, 57.1 percent, either don’t support, are undecided or not sure about spending $8.25-million on the Bayview Center now that they know the cost. Only 19.5 percent of the respondents said the public was given enough input and information about the final plans.

A positive for Mayor Hayward is that all the respondents said they had visited Bayview Park at least once in the past six months – 30.8 percent visited more than three times.

This study was conducted by The Political Matrix between Sept. 29 and Oct. 1 using Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology. The numbers used were supplied by the Escambia County Supervisor of Elections Office. Only households who voted at least four out of the last four elections were called in this survey. The numbers were randomized upon implementation of the study and 448 completed studies were collected. The study consisted of five questions asked of the respondents. The margin of error of this study was +/- 4.5%.

Clearly Mayor Hayward has a communication issue among the city’s most active voters. The Pulse Gulf Coast interviewed East Hill residents who said they weren’t happy with the project’s design. The survey supports the statements that those living near Bayview Park wanted more information and input on the final design.

The Political Matrix survey found that 55.3 percent of District 4 voters, which includes East Hill, support the $8.25 million center, which has a 5,000 sq. ft. boathouse for kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and rowing shells, but only 31.6 percent believe the public was given enough input and information.

The 19,000 sq. ft. proposed community center is approximately two-thirds the size of Sanders Beach Community Center and includes three meeting rooms, an exercise room, and two event spaces that can be combined to accommodate 278 people.

The Sanders Beach Community Center’s ballroom has a stage, a seating capacity to handle up to 350 and a full kitchen. The large event space at the proposed Bayview Center is 3,432 sq. ft., while the Sanders Beach ballroom is nearly double the size – 6,110 sq. ft.

See 170919_BayviewCC_Design Booklet.

Survey Results by District:

Did you know the city has approved 8.25 million dollars to build a new community center?
Yes: 53.1% No: 40.2% Not sure: 6.7%

Yes
District 1: 39.0
District 2: 73.1
District 3: 45.2
District 4: 55.3
District 5: 48.5
District 6: 61.8
District 7: 57.1

Knowing the cost of the Bayview Community Center, what is your opinion of city council voting to spend $8.25 million on a new center?
Support: 42.9% Do Not Support: 29.0% Undecided/Not sure: 28.1%

Support
District 1: 46.3
District 2: 42.3
District 3: 22.6
District 4: 55.3
District 5: 42.4
District 6: 44.1
District 7: 42.9

For an 8.25 million dollar capital project paid for by your tax dollars, do you think the public was given sufficient notice to view the final plans and comment on them?
Yes: 19.2% No: 50.0% Undecided: 30.8%

Yes
District 1: 19.5
District 2: 19.2
District 3: 16.1
District 4: 31.6
District 5: 12.1
District 6: 23.5
District 7: 4.8

Check out the entire survey: Bayview Park Data

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  • CJ Lewis October 3, 2017 at 9:56 am

    As a reminder, the city’s 2011 Bayview Park Master Plan based on extensive public input says that the Bayview Park Community Center should be demolished and not replaced. The plan said that the Senior Center next door should be renovated and expanded. District 4 Councilman Johnson who always whines that the city does not follow the recommendations of its own plans said that the 2011 plan was “No good.” [The last time I saw Johnson he had a copy of the Inweekly in his hands as he boasted that he never read Ricks Blog or Inweekly.] The City Council proposed rebuilding Fire Station #3 something that he had been dragging his feet on for many years. Mayor Hayward attached the Bayview Park Community Center project to the Fire Station #3 project so they had to be done together. District 5 Councilman Wingate whose district includes much of East Hill tried to separate the two projects. His efforts failed for lack of a vote because District 2 Councilwoman Myers was absent. No one really believes that the cost of the project suddenly went up more than 33% because of increased cost of construction. As an aside, when I spoke to Johnson in March 2016 he told me that he was tired of people complaining to him about his support for rebuilding the Bayview Community Center that the 2011 study said should not be rebuilt. Johnson told me that of all the Council members he was the one most supportive of the city’s African-American community and that it was the city’s African-American community that wanted the Bayview Park Community Center rebuilt. As a reminder, in 2011 when the City Council racially gerrymandered the city’s election districts it was Johnson who had the Districting Commission reduce the percentage of African-Americans in District 4 by 30%. Johnson expressed his concern about “the racial mix” and made a big point to emphasize – “the majority of my constituents are Caucasian or white.” Johnson lives in walking distance of Bayview Park. So does Hayward. They probably meet in the park to talk about “stuff.” Is the Senior Center going to be demolished? If not, why should Bayview Park get all of this treatment when District 2 has no community centers and District 1 has a mostly over-50 population but no Senior Center. In September, there was a proposal to renovate the Gull Point Community Center but our District 1 Councilman Wu voted against it. By the way, Hayward’s home – “Hayward House” at the northeast corner of Bayview Park remains for sale at $1.9 million. No doubt his realtor is telling potential buyers that there is going to be built a new $8.25 million Community Center across the street. The Council members who voted to build this project are all bad stewards of taxpayer dollars.