Panama City used to use the property off East 9th Street and Sherman Avenue as a transfer station for solid waste headed to the Bay County incinerator, but in 2011, the Department of Environmental Protection determined the Coyote Landfill was an environmental hazard and ordered it closed. Since then, the trash has just been sitting there.
"We're talking about something almost 20,000 yards of trash that's been there for 5 or 6 years," said Panama City mayor, Greg Brudnicki.
But that's about to change. Phoenix Construction owner James Finch has agreed to dispose of the waste and clean up the site. The job would cost more than $600,000, but Finch is doing the work for free to pay off the $500,000 in environmental penalties for construction problems that caused stormwater drainage issues at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport. "We found an avenue to do it, working off the fine through DEP and getting something cleaned up in town," said Brudnicki, "it's great. This is just an example of the state working together with the county and the city to get something done."
It's also welcome news for residents.
It's not safe and it's definitely nasty and definitely not clean for the environment," said nearby resident Cocoa Brown. "I'm just happy they're cleaning it up, hopefully it won't get back to the point where they have to do this all over again."
Phoenix crews are supposed to have the job completed by September 13th but may get a little more time due to all the recent rainy weather.
City officials say they don't have any plans for the property once it's been cleaned up.