Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center gets demolished

Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 6:36 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 8, 2022 at 6:37 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Out with the old and in with the new.

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center was demolished Monday, but the story only begins there.

“Today is the first step in that progress to the future and to be the premier city in the panhandle of Florida,” Mark McQueen,” Panama City City Manager, said.

The former building gets a new facelift.

“This was an 18,000 square foot structure with a single court gymnasium,” McQueen said. “What’s going back is going to be a 30,000 square foot structure with a double court gym. Many more amenities not only in the building, but also the grounds around it.”

The timeline for the new center is unknown, but one local commissioner tells us it’ll be worth the wait

“Just stand by,” Kenneth Brown, City Commissioner Ward 2, said. “Just be ready, it’s going to be nice.”

Creating a space for Bay County kid’s to grow.

“We need to be investing in young people and our children,” McQueen said. “And that’s what this is all focused on.”

And it seems they are already helping out.

“I believe the younger generation is going to make the decision that whatever it’s going to be,” Brown said. “In fact they have already brought it up to this point.”

The recreation center is more than just fun, it leaves a lasting impact on the community.

“I just thank God for being part of their lives,” Juliaette Smith, former Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center employee, said. “And whenever I see those kids they tell me, you are the reason I am so successful today. I just hug them and say thank God I was there for you.”

One man said he wants to give back because his father helped purchase the land where the center sits.

“I saw the vision there,” Greg Dossie, Panama City resident, said. “And so that vision was always incorporated in me.”

Tearing down, to build back better than ever.

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