After months of public meetings and input, experts provided their initial recommendations for how to develop a safer, more walkable, and vibrant waterfront in downtown Pensacola. This process began last summer with public town halls and opportunities for the public to provide input on their ideas. Stakeholders from the city, county, business community, and environmental community attended these sessions. The objective with this process is to come up with a plan to develop the area beginning at where the new Three Mile Bridge will end to Sanders Beach.
The unveiling of the SCAPE Landscape Architecture plan for Pensacola's waterfront took place at Sanders Beach Community Center with a full house in attendance. One of the main topics that the presenters touched on was the need for additional shade along the sidewalks and redesigned streets to be more pedestrian and biker friendly. The goal is to provide downtown visitors an opportunity to park in one place and then be able to comfortably walk to shops, bars and restaurants, parks, and museums. Examples from other communities were provided to give examples of what could be done.
The consultants provided both short and long-term plans for what could be done along the Main Street corridor including some immediate objectives. The area around Main and Palafox Streets was identified as a place where street and sidewalk improvements should begin to impact the most people. Another short-term suggestion was to close off the end of Palafox Pier to vehicular traffic to provide for greater walkability and the potential development.
The expansion and development of Bruce Beach will necessitate a longer-term vision and greater financing. While these and other projects were discussed, the sources of funds to pay for these projects will need to be addressed moving forward. The consultants did touch on the economic development impact that doing these projects could have on the community as it relates to quality of life and attracting the talent necessary to fill jobs.