Bayview center design exposes eastside-westside disparity

The design and budgeting for Bayview Community Resource Center have been treated very differently by the mayor’s office than the two community centers built on the westside, Legion Field and Woodland Heights, during Mayor Ashton Hayward’s first administration.

The Bayview center appears to have been given a blank check with its budget increasing from $6 million to $8.25 million to $9.6 million from February 2016 to May 2018. City CFO Barker has given two causes for the jump from $6 million to $8.25 million:

  1. The changes in amenities after discussions with community and architect (Jan. 2017), and
  2. The rising cost of construction (Aug 2017).

In 2011-12, when the African-American community was working on the design of the Woodland Heights and Legion centers, they weren’t given much leeway.

The architects and citizens were told they had to stay within the $3 million budget for each. Like Bayview, the community’s wish list was extensive. However, District 5, 6 and 7 citizens  didn’t get everything they wanted in the centers. The budgets were maintained.

There was a $250,000 supplement budget for Legion Field, a little more than an 8 percent increase, but that center also was designed to house the Westside library.


Legion Field
Center – Westside Library  $ 3,000,000 approved 4/7/11
Capital Equipment  $     250,000 supplemental
Total Budget  $  3,250,000
Approved 11/13/12
Construction  $  2,620,993
Contingency  $      131,050
Design fee  $      298,696
City engineering project mgmt  $        67,000
FFE  $      132,261
Total Actual  $  3,250,000
Woodland Heights
Budget   $ 3,000,000 approved 4/7/11
Approved 10/22/12
Construction  $  2,466,500
Contingency  $        61,663
Design fee  $      293,696
City engineering project mgmt  $        68,500
FFE  $      109,641
Total Actual  $ 3,000,000

Some of  other factors that are different:

  1. Fund Availability The city didn’t have a lot of unallocated LOST funds in 2011-12. The council had only allocated $500,000 for each center, prior to Hayward taking office.  The LOST Series IV funds ($87 million) kicked in January 2018. If Mayor Hayward gets council approval for the $9.6 million Bayview center, he will have obligated nearly 40 percent of the LOST Series IV before the next mayor takes office, according to LOST plan in the FY 2018 budget.
  2. Different Leadership Under City Administrator Eric Olson, the city took 27 months from when the council voted on the center’s $6 million budget  in February 2016 to bring a contract to the council. Under City Administrator Bill Reynolds and Chief of Staff John Asmar,  Woodland Heights contact was delivered in 18 months, Legion Field 19 months. The extended delay for Bayview cost the city money.
  3. Familiarity Bayview Park is in Mayor Hayward ‘s neighborhood. He drives by it every day. Woodland and Legion Field aren’t on his way to work.

Early this month, Emily Talen talked about social equity during a CivicCon session. She talked about where we live influences our access to parks, schools, libraries, grocery stores, dog parks and other amenities.

Talen said, “Ideally, these resources would be equally available to everyone, but in practice many poor neighborhoods are left to do without.”

The mayor has argued that Bayview Park is used by all of the citizen and county. How much? He has offered no objective measurement.

How many people will benefit from a 4000 sq. ft. boathouse at Bayview? 100? 200? 500?

Had Legion and Woodland Heights been built given an additional $1 million for construction, how many more people would those two centers have been able to serve? 100? 200? 500?

Bayview, Legion and Woodland are all neighborhood parks.

Where is the equity between a $3 million center and $9.6 million facility?



4 thoughts on “Bayview center design exposes eastside-westside disparity

  1. So, based on Bill’s logic, people who pay more property taxes (ad valorem) are ENTITLED to faster and better fire service, police service, etc. And, Bill obviously makes his statements without understanding the different pots of money in our multi-hundred million dollar budget. Community Resource Centers are built with Local Option Sales dollars, not ad valorem dollars. Get educated before you speak about taxes paid “over here compared to over there”.

  2. Bill,
    So community centers should be based on tax revenue generated in the district? If that’s the case, District 6 (which includes downtown) and District 2 (which includes Cordova Mall and Ninth Ave) should have the largest, most expensive community centers in the city of Pensacola—neither has a community center. Because of the greater density, District 7 generates more tax revenue than you think. I think the PNJ created a graphic for that in connection with CivicCon. I will try to find the link and post it.

    I don’t understand your comment about subjectivity. The costs, budgets, meeting transcripts and contracts are public record. They are completely objective.


  3. I understand the subjectivity of your reports on the costs of new Bayview Community Center. How about a little objectivity? What is the tax base for East Hill vs the West side? New home construction has got to be at 100% over here. Middle of the block, not on the water homes are approaching and sometimes passing a half million dollars each. Older homes, are not capped at 3% increase when they resell, and resale’s are hot. Even empty lots over here cost twice as much as entire homes on the west side. Is there a break down on how much revenue East Hill generates in taxes? Are there available figures on west side homes that don’t even pay taxes? Shouldn’t what we pay in taxes account for something besides fire, police and streets? And it’s not like it’s going to be a members only center.
    What is the breakdown of costs of all tax based services East side vs. West side? Debate. But present all the facts.

  4. There has ALWAYS been a disparity between eastside and westside capital projects from the city. Ashton, has only continued the pattern of systemic discrimination that has been a historical reality from the City of Pensacola.

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