Monday, April 12, 2010

Pensacola Beach 'Master Plan' Meet Scheduled

Wednesday of this week, beginning at 5 pm, the Santa Rosa Island Authority's "Development and Leasing Committee" will hear "a presentation by EDSA for the final summary of the 'conceptual' Master Plan for the beautification of Pensacola Beach." Click here for the full agenda [pdf file].

Almost certainly this won't be the last time a "final summary" is presented by someone to someone. As the Gulf Breeze News reported last month, the proposed traffic round-abouts and elevated road "have been hotly debated" by residents as well as SRIA board members. It's also likely to become controversial at the county level.

Board member Dr. Thomas Campanella, elected to represent beach leaseholders, tells us he likes "some parts" of the conceptual plan developed by Ed Stone Associates. But he doubts engineers can find "enough room" for three traffic round-abouts plus an elevated roadway. Overall, he says, the plan is too expensive and "way over the top."

Campanella also says he'd like to see a plan that is more in keeping with an "Old Florida" conception. "A lot of tourists who come here for the first time," he says, "tell us they didn't realize there was anything left of the old Florida. They love it here. It's laid-back and not too aggressive or modern-looking. It reminds them of the way beaches were when they were kids coming to the beach with their parents."

There's considerable confusion, too, over whether the SRIA board hasn't been shoved aside by Escambia County. Early this month, interim county administrator Larry Newsom announced the county "is taking over the next phase" of the project. Newsom, who was the county's chief traffic engineer before being named interim administrator, will be present Wednesday to explain the county's next steps.

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