Another Pensacola city park is about to undergo a major transformation, reducing the impacts of flooding and bringing more recreational opportunities to Pensacolians throughout the city.
This month, the Pensacola City Council voted to award the construction of the Bill Gregory Park and Regional Stormwater Treatment Facility project to Panama City-based Gulf Coast Utility Contractors.
The park, located near the intersection of W Street and Navy Boulevard, is currently home to three baseball fields that will not be impacted by the improvements. As part of the plan, a 2.5 acre pond will be constructed that will capture and treat stormwater runoff from nearly 40 acres in the surrounding neighborhoods. In addition to its water quality improvement, the pond will also serve as a wetland habitat for a variety of plants, birds and other aquatic animal species.
Improving the health of Bayou Chico
The $2.2 million project is being funded from grant proceeds resulting from fines from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill as part of the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund managed by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. According to officials, the improvements will result in the removal of pollutants and debris from stormwater runoff before entering Bayou Chico.
Known as one of the most polluted bodies of water in the state of Florida, millions of dollars have been spent to clean up and remediate Bayou Chico that serves as the western border between the city and Escambia County.
The Bill Gregory Park project joins another recently awarded $1 million project one block east adjacent to the Global Learning Academy and the Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida.
Officially referred to as the “R Street at Maggie’s Ditch Stormwater Facility,” the project will capture and treat runoff from about 225 acres of mostly commercial areas, which currently discharges untreated stormwater into Maggie’s Ditch, a manmade wetland tributary that discharges into Bayou Chico. The project includes an underground treatment unit that is designed to remove 50 percent of “total suspended solids,” as well as debris and floatables. The system will remove an estimated 20 tons of solids annually.
Additionally, along the western branch of Bayou Chico, the $3 million Jones Creek and Jackson Creek stream and wetland floodplain habitat restoration project is currently underway and aims to restore more than a mile of the Jones Creek and Jackson Creek branches that flow into the bayou.
Not just a stormwater pond
City officials said the Bill Gregory Park and Maggie’s Ditch projects will also incorporate functional and aesthetic public amenities similar to those in the recently constructed $2 million Admiral Mason Stormwater Park in downtown Pensacola and the $3 million Government Street Stormwater Park at Corrine Jones Park in Pensacola’s Tanyard neighborhood that is nearly half-way completed. The projects aim to improve quality of life and recreational opporuntities in the local community.
“These amenities will include enhanced LED lighting, extensive walking paths, a boardwalk, sitting benches, extensive landscaping and passive reflection areas,” stated city officials.
As a result of its innovative design and benefit to the local community, Admiral Mason Park received a Project Excellence Award in 2012 from the Florida Stormwater Association.
Work is set to start in mid-February with an expected completion in the fall.