Pensacola's Exciting Future!

Spring Street Park

Devilliers Street Warf
Click on the smaller photos for larger views

Article by W. Ted Brown, President of Brown Marine Service, Inc., a locally owned marine service company serving Pensacola for over 40 years.

I come from a long line of ship and tug captains, and harbor pilots. I've also wanted for years to see a Maritime Museum in Pensacola. We're probably the oldest maritime city without one. I've been to many maritime museums throughout the world and they're a great tourist draw. They're also an excellent teaching tool for our local folks too! I've got a cousin who said he'd teach how to make model ships and tugs at our new museum. But I digress. It's because I'm excited at the prospect of finally seeing Pensacola's waterfront take it's rightful place with the great waterfronts of the world!

I'm going to attempt to tell you what I believe the Maritime Park is going to be and what it will do for our community. Yes, I'm a supporter of it but I'm also trying to be objective because it's my waterfront too that may be messed up. There are those who want a referendum to decide on it and I'm very much against that. You may say why is that? Isn't that democracy in action? Democracy is fine if the voters know all the facts and will take the time to be educated to the subject. I will readily admit that I don't know nearly as much about Urban Planning, maritime parks, multi-use stadiums, mixed-use, and conference centers as I'd like to. I'd say that describes probably about 99% of the folks that live in Pensacola too! That's why the group that is proposing the park hired Ray Gindroz of Urban Design Associates of Pittsburg to study it and make recommendations. I may not be an expert on urban planning but I like what I see. Here's a link to the award winning firm of Urban Design Associates. Go check them out and If we have the referendum then consider the wisdom they've shared with us. The City of Pensacola also hired Mr. Gindroz for other matters on the east side of town. I've attended some of his meetings and I think he's telling us some good information. He's the only one that truly doesn't have a "dog in the hunt" on this Maritime Park Project so I think we should listen real good to what he's saying. Also, I hadn't thought about it, but Carl Wernicke said (Sunday April 16, 2006 - Pensacola News Journal) that the City's tax increment financing keeps the County's portion of the tax so that, in effect, the County citizens will help fund the Park project. That does sound pretty good! Of course this part of the funding really goes to the public use areas that our citizens want so much and are designed to be truly wonderful in this project (see the drawings above) and I'm sure that many citizens of the County will come down to stroll along the waterfront, soak in the beauty of it all, and see what their tax dollars have helped pay for.

The current plan for the Maritime Park may or may not be perfect but then what is? What I do know is that other cities are trying to build sports facilities and parks and we're one of the few cities that can put it all together and give it a waterfront view! Philadelphia has a Maritime Museum on the waterfront but no Sports facility or shops. Greensboro, NC has a ball stadium that they love but no waterfront. Many waterfront cities have a park but one without economic earning power for the community (public property doesn't pay taxes or provide jobs).

If we don't go for this then yes, there will be something else, but since the developer of this is a non-profit they're going to work a lot harder to balance the public needs with the economic ones than a private developer. I'm sure Marriott could do the whole thing but they're not going to want to give up much land for a park. This project really sounds like the citizens have their "cake" and can savor it! A non-profit organization consisting of some of the most trusted and well known citizens will manage the project and there will be complete City Council oversight where the public can come out to Council meetings and learn how the park is developing EVERY STEP OF THE WAY!

I will admit that I don't like baseball and I would not be in as much favor of the park if they played baseball there all year long. The short time the Pelicans are going to play in it is what excites me the most about that facility. For over 200 days it will be available for many other paid usages like the Civic Center is. We could host many regional and national sports & outdoor tournaments with such a waterfront facility.

I'm convinced that Pensacola will truly be a fun and exciting place to live, work, and or visit because of this Maritime Park with it's Admiral Jack C. Fetterman State of Florida Maritime Museum and Research Center.

It's almost got too much going for it. It will be the catalyst that will help the whole city come to life! I've even heard that the University's planning an aquarium "classroom" in the new Maritime Museum for students to learn underwater archeology and the public can watch! With all the shipwrecks in the bay we will have one of the best facilities in the WORLD! I know these University people and have helped them since the first Spanish Shipwreck was found off of Emanuel Point. They are first class and will have a first class facility. Click HERE for more information on the new Maritime Museum that will be part of this exciting project.

The following photos are slides from the Ray Gindroz presentation to the City Council and reflect the Key Principles and Elements that he thought would be accomplished by this project.

click on the drawing for larger image

I encourage all of the citizens of Pensacola to get active concerning this project. In most cities the waterfront belongs to private interests. With this plan the public will own and enjoy Pensacola's waterfront forever. It will bring increased economic activity to a depressed area of Pensacola and, through the incremental tax increases of the CRA, will pay the City back! It will cost the Citizens NOTHING for them to have this wonderful waterfront! This funding technique has been used successfully in many other cities to improve quality of life for its citizens, so why not ours!

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Since April 23, 2006