News & Information > News Releases

July 30, 2010
Melanie Mowry Etters
Communications Director
(850) 488-4257

Park to Open August 4

Pensacola - Hawkins Recreational Park in Santa Rosa County will reopen to the public, after a six-year closure, on Wednesday, August 4, with a special ceremony beginning at 10 a.m. (CST). Park visitors can now enjoy picnicking, fishing, hiking, bird watching, and other activities again.

The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) manages Hawkins Park. APD has been working for the past several months to repair and enhance the park and make sure it is accessible to people with disabilities. The park entrance is on Munson Highway, just past 5550 Bubba Lane, in Milton.

The 23-acre parcel was donated by the Hawkins family to the state of Florida in 1977 with the requirement that people with disabilities have access to the land. The state completed construction on the recreational park in 1979. It was originally named Round Pen Bayou Park due to its location on the bayou. It was renamed Hawkins Recreational Park in September 1986 in honor of the donor's father, Herman Calvin Hawkins. Many of the park’s facilities were destroyed in 2004 by Hurricane Ivan making it unusable.

About $50,000 worth of renovations have been completed at Hawkins Park. The facilities are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The fishing pier and bathhouse have been rebuilt. The playground has been refurbished. There are also pavilions and grills that can house special events for large family gatherings.

The Grand Opening festivities include performances by the Pyramid Choir and the presentation of the colors by a Boy Scout Troop 409. Remarks will be made by APD Director Jim DeBeaugrine and APD Area Administrator Walt Wooten.

APD Director Jim DeBeaugrine said, "We are excited to open Hawkins Park and make it available to people with disabilities and their families. It is an accessible recreational area for people to use in Northwest Florida. We want Floridians with disabilities to come and enjoy the beautiful environment."

People with disabilities will maintain the park through an agreement with Santa Rosa Arc.

The park is open to visitors who are Florida residents with disabilities, their families, and caregivers. If you would like to make a reservation, contact the APD Area 1 office in Pensacola at (850) 595-8351.

The agency annually serves about 35,000 Floridians with developmental disabilities of mental retardation, autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and Prader-Willi syndrome. For more information on the agency, call 1-866-APD-CAREs or visit