Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Beach Plan Options

As Kimberly Blair of the PNJ reported yesterday, a Santa Rosa Island Authority "steering committee" will hold a 3-hour teleconference meeting from 11 am to 2 pm today with consultant engineering firm EDSA. The purpose is to review preliminary options for a new beach redevelopment plan.

The public is welcome to attend. According to SRIA director of administration Jayne Bell, questions and comments from the public will be invited in the last hour.

Bell told us yesterday that EDSA's preliminary options exist only in "multiple emails exchanged" between the agency and consultants over the past several months, plus fourteen 16 x 24-inch pages of illustrative drawings and photos. Regrettably, it seems none of the pages have been publicly posted on the web sites of either the SRIA or EDSA.

Front-and-center on the dead-tree copy of illustrations we have seen are three "options" for redevelopment of what EDSA refers to as the "Beach Core Enlargement Plan." Those options involve a parking ramp, a parking ramp, or a parking ramp.

(Click each image to enlarge)
Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

Whatever one thinks about the need for additional parking -- we're not convinced it's sufficiently chronic year-around to justify the expense -- it is disappointing to see that EDSA hasn't thought outside the parking-ramp box. Maybe all those emails would tell us why. When and if reporter Blair gets her hands on them, they might even provide additional proof of Dogan's Razor.

There's more in the fourteen pages to interest beach residents. EDSA also has ideas about spiffing up the east entrance to the beach near Portfino -- the one that starts at Navarre Beach for free, if you want to avoid soon-to-be-doubled tolls.

There are also some pages with photos and drawings proposing "a gateway experience" near the north toll booth entrance "that announces transition between built and natural environment." However, the plan, such as is, confesses that one "constraint" to this ambition is that there is presently a "lack of transition between built and natural protected environment." In other words, so we understand it, the high rise developments standing along Pensacola Beach Boulevard already have spoiled the view and there's not much to be done about it.

A few more pages are devoted to something EDSA calls "opportunity to enhance residential beach to bay connection" with "mid block connection[s];" reservation or development of presently vacant "pocket nodes" of land now owned by the SRIA; and enhanced landscape of residential landscaping easements.

Landscape Easement

There are a few intriguing ideas in the EDSA drawings and some alarming ones. It's too early to say for sure what the outcome will be. That will depend on beach residents, businesses, and the public at large. And, those past and future emails.

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