Gindroz weighs in on CMP debate

September 3, 2006

CMP view Ray Gindroz is considered one of the top urban planners in the country. He has spoken several times in Pensacola and did do a major study on Pensacola’s Historical District. Here is a letter from him on the Vince Whibbs, Sr., Community Maritime Park:

Planning Pensacola’s Waterfront

We at Urban Design Associates prepared three inter-related planning
efforts for the Pensacola Waterfront. The first was commissioned by the
several institutions in collaboration with the City, the second by the
Studer Group in coordination with the City, and the third by the City.

From the beginning we were impressed with the beauty of the City’s
historic legacy and the rich potential of its waterfront. At the same
time, we were stunned by the way in which those resources were so badly
neglected and poorly used, especially the waterfront.

However, the enthusiasm and commitment of the hundreds of people who participated in
these planning processes gave us confidence that the City would be able
to change course and create a dynamic and attractive waterfront for its
citizens. In all three efforts, it was clear that is an essential
component in the City’s economic development and fiscal health.

Our planning approach is to engage as many people as possible. We also
carefully examine the context within which each planning action is
taking place. Therefore, the Historic District Plan was conceived as
part of a larger vision for the whole waterfront. This meant that the
pattern of streets leading to the water, the alignment of parks and
pathways along the waterfront, and the configuration of potential
development areas would all be able to connect into a larger plan.

The Community Park Plan continued this process by emphasizing connections to
the neighborhoods and extending the City to a large waterfront Park.
The Palafox Pier Plan forms the link between these two efforts to create
a continuous network of public open space and human scale development.
Together, in our view, these provide the City with a comprehensive
vision for the waterfront and the way in which it can support the
vitality of the rest of the City.

In all three of these planning efforts we began by asking what the
strengths, weaknesses, and priorities of citizens were for each area.
There was unanimous consensus in all three that the biggest obstacles to
creating a viable downtown were the asphalt tanks on the Port and the
Sewage Treatment Plant.

At the beginning, there was little hope that they would ever be removed, but now that the process made this so public, the tanks are gone and the hope that the sewage treatment plantwill be gone. This process must continue if Pensacola is to emerge from its economic lethargy and realize its full potential as a City.

In all of the meetings we attended, the majority of people were
strongly in support of moving forward. Their biggest fear was that
contentious and backward looking individuals would somehow find a way to
get in the way of Pensacola’s best interests. Will the citizens of
Pensacola allow this to happen?

Ray Gindroz
31 August 2006

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