Panama City Commissioners approve site location to replace Marina Civic Center

Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 9:05 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 29, 2022 at 3:59 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The Marina Civic Center was a beloved staple in the community. The future of it is still in the works after Hurricane Michael heavily damaged it nearly four years ago.

It’s been an ongoing discussion on where the new civic center in Panama City should be located. Panama City Commissioners voted to keep its location site the same at the marina during Tuesday’s commission meeting.

“The reason I voted yes was because we still have flexibility to turn it down,” Commissioner Billy Rader said. “We don’t have to do it there, but that’s the area, that’s the sight, that the people that we hired, out of 11 choices, that’s the site that they chose.”

Experts analyzed a number of possible locations where the new center could be built, and after lengthy discussions, they picked the marina.

However, some people are upset about the decision.

“I don’t see why the need is there to vote today,” said a Panama City resident. “If you’re looking at another piece of property it might be better, and maybe you don’t have all the information. Why can’t you postpone this vote?”

City Commissioner Jenna Haligas agreed.

“I just felt like there were some really good points about maybe taking a stronger look at site II which is right behind City Hall,” Haligas said. “What I would have liked to have done today is to stall for another two weeks to give some time to understand if there was a major difference between site I and site II.”

Some residents are also concerned about the price tag.

“I can’t see how putting 75, $100 million into that site makes sense,” another Panama City resident said. “You will most likely have a building that resembles the old one where you’re not utilizing the water.”

City leaders recently announced that FEMA won’t pay for a full replacement of the civic center. The mayor and commissioners are exploring different forms of funding, including donations. Commissioners said they don’t know how much the project will cost yet.

Architects assigned to the project are expected to give recommendations to city leaders by late August. These recommendations will include conceptual designs and cost estimates for the Marina Civic Center.

You can hear about its future and make your voice heard Thursday, July 28, at the Panama City Center for the Arts at 5:30 p.m.

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