Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater Construction Schedule

The projected improvements to Aaron Bessant Park have been quite a hot topic lately with many energetically arguing for and against it.  The public workshop is this Wednesday evening and a lively workshop its expected to be!

The city has released the projected construction schedule, which is not final, but intended to be used to map out the process of building the improvements.

The schedule

August

  • Week 3 – Technical specifications
  • Week 4 – Draft RFQ and sound check site
  • Week 5 – Workshop: Design parameters

September

  • Week 6 – Advertise RFQ: Design/Build
  • Week 7 – Geotechnical released
  • Week 8 – Refine Design parameters
  • Week 9 – Addendum

October

  • Week 10 – RFQ Due Design/Build
  • Week 11 – Award Contract: Design/Build
  • Week 12 – Work shop: Design
  • Week 13 – Submit to FCT

November

  • Week 15 – Site/Structural Plans
  • Week 16 – Site Construction Start
  • Week 17 – Order Steel
  • Week 18 – Permit Set Complete

December

  • Week 19 – Building Construction Start
  • Week 20 – Underground work
  • Week 21 – Slab on Grade

January

  • Week 24 – Walls to roof structure
  • Week 26 – Roof Structure

February

  • Week 28 – MEP installation

March

  • Week 32 – Finish work
  • Week 35 – Certificate of occupancy

April

  • Week 36 – Punch list
  • Week 37 – Seabreeze Jazz Festival

Aaron Bessant Park Improvements Workshop Date Set

In a city commission meeting yesterday, a date for the first public workshop was set to discuss the improvements slated to be made to Aaron Bessant Park in Panama City Beach.  The park improvements were voted on and approved to begin planning at the last commission meeting.  Originally, three members of the commission voted for and two members voted against the improvements.  The tension from the disagreement seemed to be present at yesterday’s meeting.

An accelerated schedule

Panama City Beach City Manager Richard Jackson presented what was later dubbed an “accelerated schedule” for project construction and completion.  The schedule included awarding the construction contract in October and beginning development in November.  The goal, in the schedule, is to be complete and ready for the Seabreeze Jazz Festival in April.

Details about the park improvements
  • 60′x40′ amphitheater with permanent roof and walls suitable for theatrical productions, orchestral performances and musical events
  • Expanded amphitheater lawn area (see diagram below
  • Vegetative buffers around the parameter to prevent the need for temporary fencing
  • The Festival Lawn (the sandy area that’s used as overflow and vedor parking behind the park) will be improved to the quality of Frank Brown Park’s festival area
  • This area will support parking, play fields, and will have sod and irrigation
  • Additional bathroom facilities
Information about the public workshop

The public workshop is an opportunity for your voice to be heard.  The intention is to hear feedback from community residents and interested parties to get feedback on the project, it’s future use, implementation and development.  I would urge anyone that is planning on going, not to go with the intention of stopping this project.  The point is to get public feedback, and if you come with your argumentative hat on, your input will be difficult to hear.

The workshop will be held on Wednesday August 31, 2011 at 6 pm.

The issues on the agenda to discuss at the workshop:

These are bullet points provided from Panama City Beach City Manager Richard Jackson.

  • FCT (Florida Communities Trust) Management plan and their view of “passive park”
  • Parking
  • Access
  • Soccer fields
  • Number of bathrooms
  • Long term maintenance responsibility and cost
  • Environmental respect for Lullwater Lake (wetland)
  • Sound attenuation
  • Operational Standards
  • Traffic
  • Pedestrian access
  • Lighting
Opinion

I have an opinion on this development, as well as the new Walmart development, as I know many of our readers do.  You can read it here.

Aaron Bessant Park, Walmart [OPINION]

The development of a new Walmart next to Pier Park and the talk of improvements to the performance infrastructure at Aaron Bessant Park have brought  some strong opinions for both sides of the argument.  Some agree, some don’t.

One of the arguments that seems to be consistent is that we don’t need more traffic in that area.  Based on conversations with city officials, planners and the TDC, the purpose of the Aaron Bessant Park improvements isn’t to necessarily increase the per-event occupancy, but rather increase the comfort by which events can set up and decrease the cost it takes to erect the staging.

And, Walmart coming here isn’t really a matter of government decision, it’s a private industry matter.

The issue of occupancy of Aaron Bessant Park

The improvements will increase the per-event occupancy to 10,000, up from 7,500, but this doesn’t mean that every event will have 10,000 attendees there.  Sure, some events will, ideally, they all would (more people at the event means more money for Panama City Beach), but most probably won’t.  In addition, don’t think that 10,000 people will mean 10,000 cars.  Studies have shown that on average, events like these bring 5 people per car to the event.  So, with that figure in mind, the parking spaces at Pier Park and the additional parking that will be provided in the western improvements should suffice.

The issue of traffic in the Pier Park area

Where we stand today, infrastructure improvements will need to be made to handle traffic in this area.  When the new Walmart is done, and tourism numbers are up, traffic along this corridor will increase.  However, at this time, plans to signalize Powell Adams Road are in place (look for this in the next 12 to 18 months) and three-laning this whole stretch of road will likely happen within 24 months, which will help.

The reality is, people want to come here because it’s paradise.  Businesses want to come here because people want to come here, and growth will happen, whether you want it to or not.

The question is not IF we’ll grow on this end of the beach, but rather HOW we’ll grow.  It’s up to members of the Panama City Beach community to help the city commissioners make right decisions in our path of growth so that 15 years down the road, we’re not looking back going, “that was a dumb decision,” or “why didn’t we do it like that?”

The issue of noise from Aaron Bessant Park

Many residents are concerned about the noise that will come from events at this new facility.  I totally understand this concern.  But, there will not be any more noise then what was already there during past events.  During any large event held at Aaron Bessant Park, the music can be heard from many of the condos and homes within a mile radius of the park.  If anything, I would think the improvements would cut some of that noise down as it is being discussed to build the structure out of concrete block.  This should insulate the sound projection to the south.

And again, the music projection from these new improvements would only be during events, which are not necessarily every weekend.

 

City Moving Forward with Aaron Bessant Park Improvements [Amphitheater]

Looks like the improvements we were discussing for Aaron Bessant Park are, indeed, coming.  Last week in a city council meeting, an “inter-local” agreement with Bay County was agreed upon to allow the City of Panama City Beach to take the lead on planning and development of this project.  Although two of the council members were adamantly opposed to the improvements, there was still an affirmative majority vote – 3 to 2.

All the improvements could include:

  • 60′x40′ amphitheater with permanent roof and walls suitable for theatrical productions, orchestral performances and musical events
  • Expanded amphitheater lawn area (see diagram below
  • Vegetative buffers around the parameter to prevent the need for temporary fencing
  • The Festival Lawn (the sandy area that’s used as overflow and vedor parking behind the park) will be improved to the quality of Frank Brown Park’s festival area
  • This area will support parking, play fields, and will have sod and irrigation
  • Additional bathroom facilities

At this point, the exact plans have not been decided upon.  The structure in a previous post is just a proposed idea.  The agreement that came to pass in the city council meeting just grants the City the ability to spearhead the planning of the new project.

The next step will bring plans and workshops before the final proposal and approval process.

 

New Amphitheater coming to Aaron Bessant Park

Improvements to Aaron Bessant park have been in the works for a few months.  In fact, talks of improvements have been going on for years, but money has always been a challenge.  This year, BP money in excess of $1 million, will help make park improvements a reality, and last week the Panama City Beach City Council approved the improvements.

Improvements include a new, larger amphitheater.

The new improvements will be a welcome addition to a heavily used facility.  Currently they have several large events there each year that requires spending 10’s of thousands of dollars on erected staging and equipment.  The new facility will have a large covered stage, integrated electrical and a solid infrastructure to host events with a capacity of 10,000.

All the improvements include:

  • 60’x40′ amphitheater with permanent roof and walls suitable for theatrical productions, orchestral performances and musical events
  • Expanded amphitheater lawn area (see diagram below
  • Vegetative buffers around the parameter to prevent the need for temporary fencing
  • The Festival Lawn (the sandy area that’s used as overflow and vedor parking behind the park) will be improved to the quality of Frank Brown Park’s festival area
  • This area will support parking, play fields, and will have sod and irrigation
  • Additional bathroom facilities
Renderings, conceptual and imagery

The teal boundary area is the existing sidewalk paths around the amphitheater area.  The purple lines indicate the other sidewalk areas and paths that lead around the park.  The black lines will be the new amphitheater lawn area.

This is a conceptual of what the amphitheater could look like. The final product will have a beachy feel and should be consisten with the look and feel of neighboring Pier Park.  The stage area could be approximately 60 feet across and 40 feet deep offering 2,400 square feet of space.  There will be permanent walls and roof.

This is an example of another amphitheater.  Ours could look similar.

What are your thoughts on this?  Do you think this will bring more traffic problems to this area?  Or do you think the improvements will be better for the community as a whole?