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The City of Pensacola will receive a $200,000 brownfields cleanup grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to remove creosote pilings at the waterfront Community Maritime Park.

Pensacola was one of five communities in Florida to receive a grant under the brownfields program and one of 172 communities nationwide.

Pensacola’s Bruce Beach and Frisco Docks, now home to the Community Maritime Park, in 1922. (National Archives/Special to The Pulse)

Before being purchased by the city in 2000, the park property historically served as a railroad freight terminal, with a commercial pier extending from the bulkhead. Erected in the early 1900s, the Frisco Docks were completely destroyed in a 1966 fire, but more than 500 creosote-treated pilings remain submerged underwater. Contamination from polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, is also present.

Following a hotly-contested 2006 referendum, city officials moved forward with plans to clean up and redevelop the landside part of the site as the Community Maritime Park, a mixed-use development featuring a multi-use stadium which opened in 2012.

City officials said that once the contaminants are removed, the property can serve as a platform for further economic development for Pensacola. Future plans for the park include the addition of a day use marina, and officials said the cleanup could clear the way for large tourism vessels or small cruise ships to dock at the park.

“This is a tremendous victory for the region and we are very excited about this grant award,” said Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward. “This grant will go a long way in helping us move forward with my vision to support the growth of Community Maritime Park and will make us eligible for more grant funds.”

Established in 1995, the EPA’s Brownfields Program provides grants and technical assistance to communities, states, tribes, and other agencies to assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse contaminated properties.

“These grants leverage considerable infrastructure and other investments, improving local economies and creating an environment where jobs can grow,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

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