Locals and officials plan the future of Panama City Beach

Published: Jun. 18, 2020 at 5:37 PM CDT
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It was a room full of different people all with different ideas.

“Essentially we need to create a mission statement. We need people to know who Panama City Beach is and what we’re about, but also where we’re going in the future,” said Panama City Beach mayor Mark Sheldon.

Panama City Beach officials sat alongside residents to map out a strategic plan for the future of the city.

“There are so many great ideas on the Post-it notes today… many of them are eye-opening and what’s great about them is everyone has their own perspective,” said Sheldon. Topics included the city’s strengths like the new sports park, opportunities like building a convention center, and weaknesses like the need for more lifeguards. “The community sees the needs and that’s where it starts. Without the community support there’s no way we can get any of this or get it off the ground,” said Panama City Beach fire chief, Larry Couch.

The ideas will be condensed into a draft strategic plan presented to the council- a plan that could officially be adopted by mid-August.

“Once they adopt it, then it feeds into and aligns with our budget process, our capitol investments, our annual work plans for departments and city employees- that’s the alignment portion of this plan,” said Panama City Beach city manager, Tony O’rourke.

Local realtor Kara Wootson has faith these ideas will be put into action. “I do think the fact that we have an airport so close to the beach is also a huge strength. Our weaknesses- the technology and the communication that we have with our tourist I think is lacking just a bit,” said Wootson.

To her the opportunity was not just about mingling with city leaders, but about making a small contribution to the future of Panama City Beach, “and I think that this was such a refresh for the city under this new administration to allow us to come in and for them to genuinely hear our thoughts and receive it so well and take it into consideration to move our city forward,” she said.

We’re told there will be more future opportunities for locals to give their input after the draft is presented and as ideas become actions.

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