PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - "You know it wasn't on the agenda and so many people from so many different organizations came out today and the lion's share of them were for marina redevelopment," Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki said.
A plan to liven up downtown Panama City by redeveloping the marina has been criticized by many. Some locals have expressed their concerns, but others supported the idea at Tuesday's city commission meeting.
"Everybody's doing all their lobbying, you know the devil's in the details, we've still gotta go through and figure out number one, what's feasible, what we can put on here and we know we're not going to make everybody happy, but there was a tremendous amount of positive feedback today, to pursue the development," Mayor Brudnicki said.
Roughly 20 people attended the meeting in support of the redevelopment, all of whom agree that something has to be done.
"There's been a flight to the beach, a flight up 77, a flight up 231, everything has left the downtown [area] and it's continued to happen for many, many years and so we do need to do something that's going to be the spur, the catalyst, the thing that's going to rejuvenate the downtown area," Brudnicki said.
Representatives from the Bay County Chamber of Commerce say community support for the marina redevelopment project and for commissioners overall, will help advance Panama City.
"The point that we're trying to get across is: let's take a look at this plan, let's adopt the plan, do the next public hearings and then the feasibility [study]. That feasibility study will tell us what will and will not work," Bay County Chamber of Commerce President Carol Roberts said.
The project developer, Bob Sonnenblick, will be presenting a conceptual plan to commissioners next month, but financing the project is still a concern for some.
"You know we've got this asset, we just have to be mindful that we don't put the burden on the taxpayers, but that we do something that everyone can benefit from," Mayor Brudnicki said.
If the plan is approved, the developer is expected to start construction by January of 2019.