By: Tony McCray
The public was invited to celebrate the grand opening and ribbon cutting of the newly-renovated Brownsville Community Resource Center Wednesday, May 24 at 11:30 a.m. at 3200 W. De Soto St. This addition to the Brownsville area will offer a variety of educational and enrichment programs for youth, including an after school program and summer day camp, along with various services and community resources from area partners. The Brownsville Community Resource Center houses a gymnasium and auditorium with a seating capacity of more than 1,000, featuring a stage, proscenium and sound system. The resource center will also offer much needed meeting rooms, conference rooms and a full kitchen.
Commissioner Lumon May and Commissioner Doug Underhill shared the podium with the President of the Historical Brownsville Community Organization, Michael Kilmer as they also shared the excitement of the occasion. Doug Underhill changed the protocol of the agenda and invited Kilmer forward to make his comments on the significance of the grand-opening. Kilmer was skillful in his thank you statements making them very inclusionary of all of the various ethnic groups that contribute to the Brownville cultural and heritage matrix. In an interview with the Gulf Coast Voice, Kilmer added that Dr. Horton, the Pastor of Brownsville Assembly, was a real catalyst for the focus on Brownsville’s redevelopment as were many of the community groups and Escambia County Government.
Commissioner Underhill stated that, “This was done by the people”! His comment summed up his description of the energy which came from the community rather than government for the addition of the resource center to Brownville. He spoke of the unique “cultural tapestry of diversity” on the Westside of Pensacola that contributes to the “diversity of ideas” that gives Brownsville the energy that is driving its redevelopment. Underhill was adamant in commending Commissioner Lumon May for his leadership and concentration on the revitalization of Brownville, and he stated, “While I lead in my district I will also be the first follower elsewhere in the county”! However, as Underhill praised Commissioner May for his commitment to Brownsville and introduced him to come to the podium for his comments, Mike Kilmer, the President of the Historical Brownsville Community Organization, came up to the microphone with the urging of Commissioner May and invited a Brownsville Businesswoman, Ms. Keri Hawkins, the owner of A Flower Shop up to thank everyone for their support. It was just another sign of how closely the neighborhood leadership has developed its partnership with Escambia County Government.
Commissioner May’s presentation was an interesting view from a government official who utilized the glasses of a community advocate. He touted how Escambia County Government had not been involved in human capital investment prior to his coming into political office, and now was involving itself more and more into services that positively impact the human elements of the grassroots community. He spoke of how the poverty level in Brownsville is one of the highest in the state, however county government still saw the importance of investing in the community’s revitalization even to the extent of managing and operating the resource center in the present and the future.
The project began in August 2016, with renovations to the interior and exterior of the building. Upgrades included the installation of a new roof system on the north and south lower roofs, new heating, ventilation and air conditioning units, exterior painting, new interior finishes and the construction of a proscenium surrounding the extended main stage. The project was funded by the local option sales tax with a budget of just under $1.8 million, which included architectural and engineering fees, the general contractor’s renovation contract and $250,000 set aside for future purchases of building amenities such as furniture, fixtures and equipment.
For more information about the event, please contact the Neighborhood & Human Services Department at 850-595-3130 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the project, click here.