What happened at May 2017 public forum on Bayview Community Center

A year ago, Caldwell Associates Architects held a public meeting on the proposed $6 million community center for Bayview Park. In an article leading up to the meeting, Micheal Crawford, director of design and partner at Caldwell Associates Architects, told the News Journal that the new facility would be based on input from the community.

Crawford said his firm had developed conceptual drawings after talking with city staff, but the actual design work would not begin until after the May 2017 meeting. Below are the drawings present in May 2017.

We could find no news reports or city video on the public meeting. According to an article in today’s PNJ, Miller Caldwell III said the majority of responses at the public meeting in May 2017 were in support of the modern design.

The final design was presented to the Pensacola City Council in late September 2017. Caldwell did not hold any more public meetings. The citizens were not given an opportunity to voice an opinion on the final plans.

The final design is different from the renderings shown in May 2017 (see color rendering).






Caldwell Associates did summarize what happened at the May 2017 meeting in the design booklet given to the city in September.

The firm reported about 80 citizens attended the May 30, 2017 meeting. The goal was to share the project scope with the public and collect data regarding the project uses, architecture, immediate impacts on the park and future uses.

Some of the prevailing comments:

• Many residents are concerned about any tree removal in the park
• Physical connection to the water is an important element to the building’s location
• Minimize event center capacity
• Traffic control & parking solutions were brought up with every group – as well as possible alternate solutions that the city could provide like shuttles, drop-offs, off-site parking, etc.
• Provide outdoor area specifically for children – such as a splash pad (the one sprinkler that they have in the park is used at high volumes).
• Park’s existing facilities require additional maintenance – tree trimming, upkeep in dog park, garbage clean-up, clean-up of bathrooms, assure water fountains work, etc.
• Several requests to assign a ‘fishing’ area, so that it has an importance, but so it also can be separated from passive recreation areas
• Citizens were concerned that would be enough space for children’s summer camps, after school camps, & exercise classes – FOCUS on children & families
• There was an overall concern for the Senior Center’s future in the Master Plan
• Citizens want space for community classroom areas

It was Caldwell Associates that brought up the boathouse with rental operations and club operations for the rowing club.

Broad scopes established by CAA to begin the discussion were as listed below:
* Outdoor Sports & activities
A. Rental operations like kayak, stand-up paddle boards, possibly small sailing
B. Club operations – Rowing club
C. Storage of vessels & equipment

* Flexible Community/Resources Spaces
A. Meeting rooms
B. Classrooms
C. Exercise rooms
D. Open flexible spaces / multi-purpose

Prevailing requests from citizen/comments by all groups on park programs were:

• Indoor sports & activities – multiple requests for basketball, gymnasium, stage, auditorium, indoor walking track, paddleboats, frisbee golf, & a soft launch area for kayaks & canoes
• Noise control in the park for events
• Community garden space
• Soft launch space for kayaks, crew boats, etc.
• Traffic control & parking solutions were brought up with every group – as well as possible alternate solutions that the city could provide like shuttles, drop-offs, off-site parking, etc.

Suggestions unique to individual groups:

• Additional outdoor sports & activities to consider – outdoor volleyball, indoor basketball (Gymnasium)
• Suggested that there be an option to the public to rent non-motorized water vehicle storage space & lockers
• Floating/rowing dock (and all water-oriented sports) are in high demand
• Community center meeting rooms should be a variety of sizes – larger meeting rooms (with overhead projectors) & small quiet study rooms for people who need to individual space for reading & studying (like a library)
• Multiple requests for different food service types – food trucks, café, catering kitchen, food service attached to a community garden, coffee shop, etc
Comments added beyond this point were suggestions or additions made by the public.
• Traffic control & parking solutions
• An option to the public to rent non-motorized water vehicle storage space & lockers
• Different food service types – food trucks, café, catering kitchen, food service attached to a community garden, coffee shop, etc

Under Project Impact & Concerns

Broad scopes established by CAA to begin the discussion were as listed below:
• Parking
• Trees
• Rehab/upgrade parking
• Increase traffic/Uses
• Safety & Security
• Storm water / Flooding
• Exterior access to facilities
• Noise
• Control or improve circulation around park
• Boat launch upgrades

Comments added beyond this point were suggestions or additions made by the public:

• The park is currently in need for upgrades on lighting & security measures for public safety – Foot lighting/path lighting vs. overhead lighting, camera surveillance, etc
• Control or improve circulation around park, both vehicles and pedestrians. School bus access and maneuverability is a problem.
• At the Boat launch locations, extend no wake zones
• Reconsider pedestrian/nature trails layout
• Establish/promote wildlife preservation – herons, ducks, bat houses, etc.
• No invasive species, non-indigenous plants/wildlife in the landscape design
o Reclaim sandy beach/shoreline – Try to control the phragmite grass problem
• Trash control – dual/triple recycling cans
• Handicap accessibility to exceed existing requirements.
• Specific traffic / parking concerns
o They are having troubles with speeders on Blount Street now
o Exceed the tree requirements when we layout the new parking
o Add parking along 20th

Under Master Plan
Caldwell: While everyone acknowledges it is a park for everyone to use, attendees felt in should be maintained as a neighborhood park. Master plan focus should be to take the inherent features that are there and develop/refine/ reorganize/strengthen them before introducing new elements.

Comments added beyond this point were suggestions or additions made by the public:

• Provide a sense of entry to the park
• Green space & pedestrian’s spaces should prevail over parking & boat ramps
• Public expects a Green / sustainability / LEED design solution
• Do not put a ‘through-road’ in the park
• Support existing wildlife habitats – bat boxes, bird houses, protect the Bayou, etc.
• Tie together the existing pedestrian paths

ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN (unsure whether these comments came from the public)
• Boathouse theme with rowing access doors & boat storage
• Provide outdoor leisure spaces like balconies, terraces, & porches
• Cantilever the water’s edge
• Spanish & Craftsman styles suggested
• Consider ‘Old Florida’ approach with wrap around porches that mimic that homes surrounding the neighborhood

• Many natural materials suggested like ballast stone base, stone, stucco, brick, and pebbledash
• Provide glazing to provide views of both park & water. Consider the glazing view from the bridge.
• Consider maintenance & durability of exterior material like fiber cement siding

• Consider sustainable practices or LEED accreditation
• Maintain open green space
• Do not remove any trees
• Refer to Sierra Club to prevent bird strike
• Consider an educational museum / opportunities & incorporate Early Learning Garden at Entrance
• Public expects a Green / sustainability / LEED design solution
• Site inclusions like rain garden to engage nature
• Embrace the water front – both with visibility & terraces
• Solar panels & energy efficient designs
• Net zero or zero carbon footprint
• Compliment/blend/engage nature

• Provide appropriate exterior lighting for safety at night
• Footprint of building does not ‘overwhelm’ the park

The final design should have been presented to the public so that they could have weighed in on whether it fulfills their desires for the park. The Pensacola City Council has never answered the question does the design agree with the public input.

To date, neither the council or the citizens have really analyzed the design…yet the costs have increased about $2 million every time the project is brought back to the council.

The final design approval is not an issue of “taste” as Mayor Hayward suggested to the News Journal. It’s an issue of functionality and fiscal responsibility. Will the center perform the functions the community wants?  What is the appropriate expenditure for a community center?

The total cost of the Bayview Community Center, including the interest on the  loan to build it, is almost equal to the combined cost of the last three centers built: Sanders Beach, Theophalis May and Woodland Heights–$11 million.

Mayor Hayward told the daily newspaper, “Does that mean that we shouldn’t build an asset for the community because prices have gone up? I think we need to be extremely fiduciary and responsible on that.”

Is spending $11-million on a community center responsible?

A Fiduciary duty in a financial sense is the obligation to ensure that those who manage other people’s money act in their beneficiaries’ interests. Is this Bayview Community Center the best use of $11 million of city funds?  Are there other projects that would be more beneficial?

A $4 million increase in cost is remarkable. Have Mayor Hayward and his staff known since last summer that the project would exceed its budget and engineered the process to force the council to approve it? Their actions make it appear so.



2 thoughts on “What happened at May 2017 public forum on Bayview Community Center

  1. I have never been so embarrassed for our city government until I attended a meeting. The president might as well take a nap because he has no clue how to run a meeting. Johnson says nothing, and needs a drink. Myers needs her damn sidewalks and the rest could put a cardboard cutout in their seats. We know Ashtons days are limited. Thank god. Please, lets vote the rest out of office. Somebody take control of this city.

  2. The City Council should direct a comprehensive review of the 2011 Bayview Park Master Plan that has never formally been discarded enough though Councilman Larry Johnson tried to ignore Councilwoman Jewel Cannada-Wynn’s concerns by claiming that the 2011 plan is supposedly now – “no good.” A group of citizens reflecting the interests of all city residents (one person per Council district) can report back to the City Council in January 2019. As part of that effort, the City Council could hold multiple meetings during the day, at night and on a Saturday in the Bayview Park Senior Center that for years has done double duty as a community center. The input that matters most is from the people who live in walking/bike riding distance of the park because they will be the primary users and also the ones who will suffer the most from people attending events at the event center blocking their driveways and diving home drunk after a big party at night. The views of other city residents matter too. My two cents worth of input would be to consider incorporating a small library element into what in the 2011 plan was a combined senior center/community center. What I would not give a hoot about is input from people who could but do not want to live in our community – the City of Pensacola. In a prior PNJ article about Hayward’s project, it seemed as if everyone cited lived in Santa Rosa County. Let them build and maintain their own parks. Even in today’s PNJ story, Hayward told the truth saying that he cares about the “many people that live outside of the city that use that asset.” I’m sure that those people are fine people. However, just as I would expect the Gulf Breeze Mayor and City Council to ignore my input about what to do in “their” city parks so too we should do what our people want and with great deference given to the views of the people who live in East Hill. Lastly, on the upside, the good news is that the City Charter provides for city voters to challenge most City Council “measures” to include acceptance of a bid. People in East Hill should start getting organized as they have 60 days after City Council approval of the bid to commence the petition and then 60 more days to gather the signatures. If any of the current 2018 mayoral candidates does not show up at the City Council meeting to speak in opposition to the project (or even in support of it) then they lack the backbone to lead and should drop out of the race. For good measure, to thrown another monkey wrench into the process, perhaps the East Hill Neighborhood Association and several people living near the park should file a lawsuit challenging the project as a violation of the 2011 Bayview Park Master Plan. By the way, why does the PNJ that had a full page spread in December 2016 about Hayward’s house being for sale not mention in today’s story that his house is for sale since November 2016 for $1.9 million?

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