A long-awaited park and stormwater project in Pensacola could move forward this week, with Mayor Ashton Hayward’s office asking the city council to award a construction contract.
The Government Street Regional Stormwater Pond would be located at Corinne Jones Park in Pensacola’s Tanyard neighborhood, just north of the vacant 19-acre site formerly occupied by the Main Street Wastewater Treatment Plant and purchased by Quint and Rishy Studer earlier this year. The project would be similar in size and scope to the city’s popular Admiral Mason Park project, which received a Project Excellence Award in 2012 from the Florida Stormwater Association.
The project centers around the construction of a 2.75-acre stormwater pond on the park’s existing grounds. As with Admiral Mason Park, the project will incorporate landscaping, walking paths, benches, and LED lighting, as well as the addition of a new basketball court and playground equipment. The project would also include the reconstruction of Government Street between Coyle and Clubbs streets.
Hayward has asked the council to award a $3 million contract for construction of the project to Utility Service Company of Gulf Breeze, Fla. $2.1 million of that amount would be funded by a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) grant which the city received in late 2013. That grant was originally expected to cover the full cost of the project, but bids have come in higher than expected each of the three times the project has been put out to bid.
The mayor’s office has proposed funding the balance of the project using proceeds from the city’s claim against BP regarding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which was settled in August. The settlement netted the city a total of $4.3 million after attorneys’ fees, $2 million of which was set aside to replenish the city’s natural disaster fund. The remaining $2.3 million was earmarked for stormwater capital projects, and Hayward is now asking the city council to commit that full amount to the Corinne Jones project.
Once completed, the pond would capture and treat stormwater runoff from 40 acres in downtown Pensacola that currently discharges untreated runoff directly into Pensacola Bay. City officials said the pond will utilize a two-tier treatment system, with pre-treatment units to remove debris and floatables prior to runoff entering the pond. In addition to improving water quality, the pond will is expected to serve as a wetland habitat for a variety of birds and other species.
Tanyard residents Amanda Clonts and Sarah Everhart are looking forward to the new park. “Sarah and I are really excited about the project,” said Clonts. “If there is one thing Pensacola could have more of, it’s downtown green areas. We enjoy the outdoors and it would be a nice addition to the Tanyard neighborhood.”
Should the council vote next week to move forward with the project, city officials expect construction to break ground in January, with completion anticipated in late November 2016.