Speaking of fulfilling the CRA plan, the city is moving forward with its “Baywalk” project — sort of. Design and engineering services are being contracted, but funding for the actual construction hasn’t been identified yet.
As described in the 2010 plan, the Baywalk is a recreational trail/boardwalk for pedestrians and cyclists that will connect waterfront destinations between the Pensacola Bay Bridge and Welcome Center to the east and Bruce Beach and A Street to the west.
The Baywalk will provide continuous linkages between existing waterfront improvements such as Plaza de Luna, Commendencia Slip and Baylen Slip. Direct waterfront access shall be achieved where possible and existing waterfront improvements shall be considered part of the Baywalk. Where waterfront access is not practical, the Baywalk should follow inland routes that provide a more direct east/west connection. These inland routes may follow streets, passageways and easements and shall be a safe, attractive and unique experience.
The CRA plan recommended a four-phase implementation of the Baywalk (from Palafox westward, and then Bartram Park eastward). That order has been shifted a little bit, as the first design services RFP for the project is for the half-mile stretch between Admiral Mason Park and Bartram Park.
This segment would provide a link closer to the hub of the CRA and tie into the entertainment/restaurant area at Seville Harbor. … Though a pedestrian sidewalk does exist along the waterfront, it is not conducive to a meaningful and quality experience of the area and its natural resources by these visitors or the rest of the community. The existing sidewalk is narrow in width and is placed uncomfortably close to Bayfront Parkway. This thoroughfare accommodates a high volume of commuter and industrial freight truck traffic, often traveling at excessive rates of speed. The Baywalk will provide a desirable gateway to the natural environment.
There were seven respondents to the RFP, of which three were selected as finalists for oral presentations: DAG Architects, Atkins North America, and Tetra Tech. The three members of the selection committee were:
- Frederique Beroset, owner of Dune Doctors
- Allan Peterson, former director of the Pensacola State College Art Department
- Michael Boles, Assistant Professor of Art at Pensacola State College
All three committee members gave first place ranking to DAG Architects, which is concurrently in the process of designing the Legion Field and Woodland Heights community centers. Mayor Hayward has authorized staff to negotiate a contract with DAG for the Baywalk project.
Half of the $60,000 design budget is coming from a state Coastal Partnership Initiative grant, which brings with it certain requirements regarding environmental education and awareness. That’s also why the design is being done before a budget exists for construction, because the grant money must be spent before the end of the year.