Questions abound re:Bayview Community Center

November 3, 2017

People have begun to forward Inweekly their concerns regarding the $8.2 million Bayview Community Center that Mayor Ashton Hayward presented to the Pensacola City Council at its second budget hearing in late September.

Citizens say that they were promised that they would be allowed to see and discuss the final plans prior to a council vote. City Administrator Eric Olson did not deliver the master plan to the council until after 5 p.m. the day before the hearing. Few people in District 4 knew that the vote was on the agenda.

The buzz is Mayor Hayward intends to let to a private rowing club run the rowing storage and rental facility, which takes up 3,600 sq. ft. The City has discussed charging the club “program fees” which is 20 percent of the rowing club’s receipts.

Last weekend, District 4 resident and architect, Bennett Shuman, sent the following letter questioning the final design to the mayor and city council. He found the plan to be a “big disappointment.”

The flaws that he pointed out in the design were:

1) A lack of design scale for a public park venue,

2) Absence of a neighborhood focus,

3) Non-unifying element that turns back to public,

4) Planning for boat storage, and

5) Nothing festive or positive that is promoted.

From: Bennett Shuman []
Sent: Sunday, October 29, 2017 11:22 AM
Subject: Bayview Center Design Proposal Disturbing


The recently published images for the Bayview Center are a big disappointment. This process started years ago following the removal of the damaged building. I can see now that the selection process has selected the wrong designer and the 35% submittal results indicate the same. The public gathering(s) for planning input failed miserably. This is a terrible design in my opinion on several levels (see below).

If the public sentiment is moving in this direction, then I would be the first to say I was wrong in raising my email voice. However, this design is not what we in the immediate neighborhood signed up for and I suggest that you attempt to nip this in the bud sooner than later for the upcoming election year. I am really disappointed as you can tell and will rally others to the same.

Design/ Planning Problems- Monumental and in stark contrast with the physical site- lack of design scale for a public park venue – absent neighborhood focus & new divisive element introduced- non-unifying element that turns back to public and primarily advocates water linkage to a polluted bayou- planning for boat storage (are you kidding me? Let that be rental occur on a vendor basis)- there is nothing festive or positive that is promoted about any of this.

City Council Members-(especially Ms. Myers)
Let me quickly voice my concern over this design news for Bayview Park. As a neighborhood we have waited patiently for years to see this park developed long before the building was severely damaged by the flooding event. I have lived along this park and I see the amount of use it offers citizens. This park is a destination for many citizens and it is diverse (as it should be).

The ghastly design proposal offered to the public does not appear to be a warranted solution within the park development. I am concerned that we have moved in the wrong direction with an image such as recently presented. The funding is what it is but the concern that I have along with others is that of what is missing with the image. The proposal does little to interact with users and presents an indoor environment lacking shade and shadow comfort to transitional spaces surrounding the concept.

The cost of development is not representative of what the user needs might be termed as an active and vibrant solution. This concept amounts to a static governmental style where staffers might be the sole individuals pleased with the results.

Please reconsider the path previously taken and consider major alternatives to this design. These major alternative do not mean raising the financial limits but promoting more evaluation by the public served.

Simply put, immediate users and neighborhood property owners do not appear to be welcomed by what has been presented. The commercial building displayed can find a representative home along a commercial strip mall but then again this is not such a place. Thank you for your attention

Bennett Shuman, Architect AIA


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  • Maryann Wolcott November 4, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    Bayview Park is loved and enjoyed by many people around our community. I have noticed that the west and south side are relatively free of utility wires however the north and east side are full of a jungle of wires; especially the north west corner. What an eyesore to such a beautiful place. How about underground wiring. It would beatify the park tremendously. I also agree that the design for the new building leaves a lot to be desired for this historic neighborhood.

  • CJ Lewis November 3, 2017 at 11:17 am

    At any time, the City Council has the power to halt the project and should. A lot of work went into the 2011 Bayview Park Master Plan that seemingly has been tossed out the window. I recall Councilwoman Cannada-Wynn including in her motion a caveat making approval conditional on City Council approval of the design. Keeping in mind that was when the cost was $6 million before the alleged 33+% increase in building costs. Did the City Council cast a specific vote to approve the plan or is the Hayward Administration claiming that in passing the next year’s budget they approved the design by default. I spoke with a Council member who told me that they do not think they voted to approve the design. In sum, the scheme seems to pay more to build less. Also, I would like to see someone investigate Councilman Johnson’s claim made to me that it is the city’s African-American community that wants to toss out the 2011 plan and go with this new concept. I didn’t believe him then and do not believe him now. Is there any link to this new plan and that fact that Hayward’s house next to Bayview Park is for sale ($1.9 million)? Do realtors mention the new center when they show his home? What is being done seems to be part of a bigger effort to deemphasize neighborhoods. When Parks Department Director Brian Cooper spoke to our neighborhood association he said that it was unfair that city residents had access to so many parks. He discussed closing down some, as they tried with Morris Court, and turning some into so-called “regional parks.” Perhaps it might be safer if the City Council let Escambia County run our park system.