The city council rejected a proposal for a shipping company to lease a public marina in the city center in favor of keeping the waterfront accessible to the public.
Gulf Marine Construction has proposed to create eight boat rental docks and two public day-use docks in a small dilapidated marina at the end of Baylen Street near Palafox Pier.
Owner Peter Gaddy said the current location has shoal formation that deters boaters from mooring at anchor, contains algae that makes it difficult for users, and the area is generally run down. There are currently two public access cards on the site, which Gaddy’s proposal would have maintained, but this would renovate the area and add the additional private cards.
Gaddy argued that the public-private partnership would be a win-win because his company would fund the on-site improvements and the city would make money on the lease while maintaining the same number of public access spaces, but ultimately the majority of council disagreed.
“By doing this with our company, it will allow for accelerated development of the plot, as we don’t have to go through and spin the gears of government all the way through the process,” he said. “I sat down and looked at this and thought about what I could do or what we could do to make it something that everyone gets a lot out of.”
Does Pensacola need more “nauticity?” “:City councilor seeks to bring a kayak track to Pensacola
Councilor Ann Hill, whose district includes this area of Baylen Slip, said the area is planned as a stop on the Pensacola Paddle Trail – a project for a network of kayak stops between Baars Park and Sanders Beach – and she did not want to lose this opportunity.
“At the moment, I don’t feel comfortable giving up our public listings,” she said, adding that she believed the city could make the necessary improvements to the site itself with the money recovered from unused contingency funds from existing projects in the future.
Council members Jared Moore and Sherri Myers were both in seven in favor of the lease proposal, saying a marina for future use at the nearby Community Maritime Park – which would include 48 boat launches and two kayak launches – would provide sufficient public access to the downtown waterfront.
Deputy city administrator David Forte told council the marine park project is in the design phase and awaits a funding allocation from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection which is expected to be approved very soon.
Emma Kennedy can be reached at [email protected] or 850-480-6979.