by Jeremy Morrison
In addition to approving a skatepark for a city-owned square block, several members of the Pensacola City Council have also kicked in some of their discretionary funding toward the privately-funded park.
Councilmen Larry B. Johnson and Brian Spencer have each contributed $1,000 toward the skatepark. Councilwoman Sherri Myers, who initially appeared somewhat skeptical of the project, contributed $2,000. The money comes out of the council members’ $10,000-discretionary funds.
“I believe this will be a great addition to downtown,” said Johnson, describing the project as “important and worthy.”
Earlier this month, the city council approved the use of a city block located underneath Interstate 110, across the street from the police station, for the development of a vision conceived by local skateboarder Jon Shell: a public skatepark complimented by amenities like a walking trail, exercise stations, an amphitheater and a cafe. The venture will be privately funded — Shell is currently raising the money — but then absorbed by the city and publicly maintained.
“I just think this is a great project — to see citizens take initiative,” said Johnson, who’s business, the Azalea Cocktail Lounge, also contributed an undisclosed amount toward the skatepark.
The project is planned for an area currently unused, with the exception of a small community garden, which will remain. It will also tie into the Hollice T. Williams Greenway Framework plan, a city initiative which calls for improvements along a 1.3-mile stretch underneath I-110; a skatepark was included in that plan. Once finished — an effort that’s expected to cost $1.5 million — the park will cost the city an estimated $40,000 to $50,000 annually to maintain.
For more about the skatepark, read “Half(pipe) Dreams, How a Skatepark Could Play in Pensacola” and “Skatepark Approved for Pensacola.”