ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — Escambia County is eyeing $67 million in Hurricane Sally relief funds to help with several projects in the county, including a new transit center and improvements to the Pensacola Bay Center.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s Rebuild Florida Infrastructure Repair Program was launched with $67 million to fund infrastructure restoration and improvement projects in communities impacted by Hurricane Sally. The funding is allocated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery Program to address unmet disaster recovery needs related to damage from Hurricane Sally.
The Escambia County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously last Thursday to open the 30-day public comment period for the projects.
According to the county, the existing transit facility was built in 1979, is located in a flood zone, and for 44 years has not received any major upgrades. Continuous water damage has occurred over the years and especially since Hurricane Sally; they said there are windows and areas of the building that continue to leak even during smaller storms.
“I was over at ECAT last week,” Board Chairman Lumon May said. “The building is 50 years outdated and, to me, transit is universal. I think this project effects all of our districts. You can’t even park there. It’s just an accident waiting to happen. Somebody is going to get run over.”
The county also included the construction of a multiuse center at Ashton Brosnaham as one of the projects.
In late January, the board approved to spend $2.7 million on a locker room facility at the complex. With increased activities at the soccer complex, the board said an additional multi-use building is needed. They said the additional building will assist in the growth of existing events, attract future events and “be a great additional facility resource for the citizens within the community.”
Building an indoor, multiuse center at the park, would cost the county $50-60 million, and the county is requesting $20 million from the Hurricane Sally grant program.
They said the primary use for the facility would be for indoor sports and special events that serve the local citizens, but also host major indoor sporting events which attract tourist from across the country which generate major local economic impact. They also said the multiuse facility would be used as an extra storm shelter.
The Pensacola Bay Center is another project the county said is needed. The upgrades to the facility would include:
- Replacement and up-sizing of the emergency generator
- Replacement and upgrading of the boiler
- Replacement and up-sizing of the main HVAC cooling tower
- Replacement of the variable frequency drives and dehimidification air handling units of the HVAC system
- Upgrades to the large format restrooms
- Upgrade of exterior entrances to hurricane-rated door systems
- Kitchen and food preservation upgrades including refrigerators, freezers and cooking appliances in the main kitchen.
The county said the culmination of these upgrades will enhance the facility’s service integrity levels as a shelter and make special needs shelter services available to persons that could not be serviced in the past.
Commissioner Steven Barry said the two projects would be a win-win for the county.
“Money we don’t spend at the multiuse center at Ashton Brosnaham could be used at the Pensacola Bay Center,” Barry said. “So, I think it is a win-win.”
The county is requesting $2.5 million for the Pensacola Bay Center improvements.
There are several stormwater projects that are also included in the public comment period for a total of $64.7 million.
Here is a list of the stormwater projects with how much they would cost:
- Beach Haven Stormwater and Septic to Sewer Project – $24.5 million
- Woodrun Bridge No. 484307 Replacement – $1.3 million
- PHS Drainage Improvements Phases 1, 2 and 3 – $2.4 million
- Oakfield Acres/Palafox Street – $13 million
- Carver Park Phase 2 – $2.9 million
- Monroe Ave. – $2 million
- Gulf Beach Hwy. Pipe Replacement – $1.5 million
- Brickyard Road – $2 million
- Vista Park – $1 million
- Muldoon Road Drainage Improvements – $8.2 million
- Bayou Grande Villas – $2.4 million
- Olive Road Street and Drainage Improvement – $14.5 million
The public comment period is open until March 20, and you can email comments to email@example.com.