Local leaders meet to discuss redevelopment on Front Beach Road
For years, Panama City Beach officials have worked to redevelop Front Beach Road. The goal is to raise property values, generate more money for the county, and keep residents safer should a natural disaster hit.
"It will safeguard the future of that (Panama City Beach) by taking the overhead power and putting it underground. Safeguard our water and sewer. Safeguarding the lift stations," said Panama City Beach City Manager Bob Majka.
The Front Beach Community Redevelopment Area project started in 2002, and the city has already spent about $100 million. Officials have also extended the completion date from 2032 to 2049.
Now, many say the project is taking more time and money than expected.
"There has been a couple of factors," said Bay County County Manager Bob Majka. "Certainly Hurricane Michael, recession, the oil spill. There has been a number of things that has delayed some of that progress."
Panama City Beach officials say the original cost of segment two of the redevelopment project, which is currently underway, was around $10 million, but the cost increased to nearly $15 million after Hurricane Michael.
Bay County officials say they don't want to raise property taxes over time to keep paying for the project, especially since many other projects need to be completed to help the county recover from Hurricane Michael.
Thursday, county and city officials held a meeting to come up with a plan to stop that from happening.
"We agreed to come up with a formula that we think we can give back to help them with," said Panama City Beach Mayor Mike Thomas.
"We can partner to work on helping the CRA contribute some dollars back into the general fund in the future years to help offset the increase of demand of services that are supplies to those properties in the CRA," said Majka.
County and city officials agreed to meet every year to re-evaluate the cost of the project and ways to complete it.
Before the end of the year, segment two of the Front Beach Road CRA is supposed to be completed. The CRA works on a mile and a half of Front Beach Road at a time. Once this is completed the next segment will start by Highway 79.