Pensacola’s Forgotten Youth (Part 1)

The City of Pensacola has come a LONG way in the last five years. We’ve moved the wastewater plant away from downtown, have a beautiful Maritime Park with a professional baseball team, and there’s always something interesting to get into on South Palafox. Did I mention the beach? I seriously love living here.

I’m so appreciative of the people who have recognized Pensacola’s potential and continue to invest in our community. Not only visionaries like Quint Studer, Collier Merrill, Ashton Hayward and Robert Rinke but also the small business owners and young professionals who are the heartbeat of the upward movement. I see you and thank you!

The downside of Pensacola to me would be the high crime rate and drugs that flood the streets these days. It’s beyond disappointing seeing childhood friends who have fallen into a life of drugs and crime. Especially the ones who I know in my heart are good people but have let their poor decisions crush dreams and ruin lives. Robbing and stealing not only from strangers but even from friends and family. We have a very serious problem on our hands. I commend the city for taking measures to combat the issue by beefing up the police force and the number of neighborhood watch groups. The crime rate is down slightly but we still have a long way to go.

I’d like to take a more proactive approach to the problem. There are 93 public parks within the city limits. Most of which are filled with monkey bars, see-saws and slides, but where do the kids go when the merry-go-round just isn’t fun anymore? These parks are great for young kids and families, but don’t hold the attention of most kids past their early teens. Of the 93 parks, there are two free “skateparks.” Although I appreciate the thought, both of these parks are very poorly designed by people who know nothing about skateboarding. Skaters get bored with these parks just like the merry-go-round and hit the streets looking for interesting spots to skate. Problem is skating is illegal most everywhere and people generally don’t appreciate skaters on their property.

It’s time for the community to unite around our city’s forgotten youth and provide a safe and positive environment for them to express themselves and have fun. I am proposing a community plaza that is designed not just for children but for the older kids as well. A place to ride a skateboard, kick a ball, cruise on a bike, enjoy music or simply enjoy being outside with friends. This concept has been implemented in countless cities with much success in recent years. Believe it or not, most skaters would much prefer a plaza type environment with a thoughtful layout and artistic features rather than a traditional “skatepark” anyway. I’ll provide some photos below so you can start to visualize what something like this could do for our beautiful city.

I am working on a plan to start making steps toward the goal of a community plaza. My next post will begin to outline the actions that need to be taken to make this a reality. Let’s unite and keep the upside movement rolling.

34 thoughts on “Pensacola’s Forgotten Youth (Part 1)

    1. Love your concept. It also must be nice to have an aunt/cousin (dana) who pretty much worships the ground you walk on. Her daughters wouldn’t know what that is like….

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Brilliant idea! The photos show just how perfect it would fit into any area already under planning and development. As well as current areas that desperately need TLC. Great job Jon!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. They should put the park under I-110 just north of Cervantes. It’s not being used and it wouldn’t be desirable for anything else. For people worried about the skaters causing trouble the police station is right down the street. Deep South held the “Fall Brawl” on the tennis courts back in like 1997-98.

    https://www.google.com/maps/@30.426064,-87.214119,3a,75y,259.86h,79.77t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1s4JAEcXy6BuWV7idH-McnOA!2e0?hl=en

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right, that location is currently being used as a homeless campground of sorts. I’m going to create a website that will serve as a community forum where we’ll all be able to share our ideas. I hope that you’ll be a part of it!!

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  3. I think this is a fabulous idea. Both my boys skateboard and no there’s not anywhere for them to do it other than the street. I think the plans and pictures look great and I hope to see this one day.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have a similar dream. I am a Mom of children in high school. middle and elementary. I would love to go to a park or plaza where many other Moms and kids of all ages would be enjoying social time outside and free. I dont like being cooped in the house or sending kids out alone, or spending money for entertainment. We need a venue that is engaging, with skate parks, games that adults and kids enjoy together. It would be a huge improvement to our community. Good luck and let me know if I can help.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Doo it bro! I skateboard, and you’re right.. those 2 little parks do get old. We need some thing with verity. We get kick out of spots and off of property all the time and its awful. I don’t want to have to pay to skate. All of my friends and I would appreciate it so much. I’m sure everyone would. I’m down to help in whatever way I can.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Your idea is such a great concept! Instead of putting the skate park out of sight under the interstate, I think it should be incorporated into a park setting. That way, parents, friends, and spectators could picnic, relax, etc. while watching the kids skate. Cities like New York with Central Park are a gathering place for all sorts of activities that a variety of people enjoy. It would also be nice for a park like this to be near the bay so you get a breeze during the summer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like your vision! You raise some very good points. There will be a community forum section on the website when it launches. I hope you’ll share your ideas there.

      Like

  7. Not only am I an old-school Pensacola skater, I work for a manufacturer of heat-reflective concrete coloring systems If you get something off the ground, we may be able to help with concrete color.

    Like

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