Residents Up In Arms Over Community Resource Center Location

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Residents are upset about the prospect of a new homeless resource center being built in their neighborhood - and they say it isn't the first time the rest of the county has dumped it's problems on them. Residents say they've fought City Hall before, and they're prepared to do it again.

The Panama City Homelessness Task Force wants to build a one-stop facility called the REEF Center, which stands for Reach Everyone, Empowering Futures.

The center, proposed for a site near Star Ave. and Highway 231, not far from the Bay County Jail, would help the homeless get back on their feet, but nearby residents aren't happy.

"I feel for the homeless, I really do," said resident Ronald Cannon. "But I don't see where it would do Panama City any real good to just move them out into a neighborhood like this and then ferry them back and forth. Who's going to pay for that transportation? Is our crime rate going to to go up in this neighborhood?"

Many residents are also concerned about where the homeless will go once they are done at the center.

"Once you trolley them out here, they're going to stay out here," said resident Robin Sullivan. "If they have nowhere to go after they go to the homeless shelter, homeless center, then they're going to start coming out in these woods camping out," she said referring to the wooded area behind the houses.

"That's my property," said Cannon, "and I would defend my property of course."

Residents also expressed concern over their property values and the safety of children who attend the two nearby schools, Merritt Brown Middle School and Tommy Smith Elementary School.

In the past residents have fought the county over the old Bay County Jail annex, the county incinerator, and a proposed landfill, and they're just as motivated with this issue.

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