Task force turns to crafting recovery action plan for Hurricane Michael
PANAMA CITY — Nearing a self-imposed May deadline to create a comprehensive blueprint, the Bay County Long-Term Recovery Task Force received a 400-page draft report that outlines 320 proposals or concepts for the community’s regeneration from Hurricane Michael.
The document is the result of 25 public meetings conducted by the task force and its six branch working groups since January seeking public input for the recovery, consultant Eric Swider of Renatus Advisors told the task force Thursday. The panel attracted more than 750 participants from all corners of Bay County and logged more than 300 hours of public input. In addition, task force members and consultants conducted more than 200 research interviews with subject experts and “stakeholders” already involved in government, educational and civic organizations.
“Every project that was brought to the (task force) is in this plan,” Swider said. That includes 60 new concept proposals received by the group in the past two weeks, he added.
Converting the draft report into a viable “action plan” with which Bay County and the cities can seek federal and state disaster assistance, as well as private-sector investment capital, will be the task force’s focus between now and its next scheduled meeting on May 21. That final process will include an effort to grade each proposal on its viability and overall value to the county.
Here is a cross-section of the hundreds of proposals included in the report (cost estimates are included when available):
Economic Recovery Branch
Downtown Science & Technology Center — a “world-class” facility for STEM-based education and technology training located on the Panama City waterfront. Cost estimate: $48,000,000
Port Panama City expansion — Four separate expansion projects to increase capacity and cargo operations at the port and complete construction of the port industrial park; accelerates timing of port strategic plan. Cost estimate: $58,000,000.
Panama City Aquarium — Construct a full-sized aquarium at the Panama City Marina. No cost estimate.
Lynn Haven Commerce Park — Develop major commerce park in collaboration with FSU-PC. Cost estimate: $5 million.
Callaway/U.S. 98 — Develop commercial infrastructure for future growth. No cost estimate.
Health & Human Services Branch
Mental Health Support — Enhance programs to assist K-12 students. No cost estimate.
Mental Health Support — Provide programs to assist youths declared under Baker Act for prompt recovery. No cost estimate.
Education/Training — Expand STEM syllabus at FSU-PC to prepare students for high-tech careers. No cost estimate.
Childcare — Develop programs to promote new childcare facilities in Bay County. No cost estimate.
Regional Hurricane Shelter — Construct hardened structure for sheltering up to 1,000 medical patients for up to 72 hours. Cost estimate: $7,000,000.
Veterans Transitional Housing — Promote a nonprofit transitional residential community for homeless veterans. No cost estimate.
Flood Insurance — Organize a public information campaign for county residents on the benefits of sufficient flood insurance. No cost estimate.
Community Land Trust — Establish a CLT to acquire land on which would-be homeowners can build homes under a long-term ground lease that will significantly reduce overall costs. No cost estimate.
Affordable Housing Development — Promote a fund for investment by nonprofit organizations that will be used to subsidize affordable housing developments. No cost estimate.
Demonstration project: Concrete housing created by 3-D printer technology. No cost estimate.
Shipping Container Housing — Explore concept of utilizing large shipping containers converted into housing. No cost estimate.
Water Treatment Facility — Construct a second water treatment plant (30 million gallons per day capacity) at Deerpoint Lake serving Bay County. Cost estimate: $50,000,000.
Major Highway Expansion Projects: Complete Gulf Coast Parkway from Mexico Beach to Walton County at U.S. 98; design and construct a complete east-west roadway on the Beach “island” from State 79 to the Hathaway Bridge; construct a North Bay Bridge from the west foot of Hathaway Bridge to the north end of Bailey Bridge; accelerate construction of Thomas Drive flyover phase 2. No cost estimates.
County Buildings Hardening and Replacement — Construct consolidated 911/dispatch center ($17,000,000); construct new EMS stations ($10,000,000); construct new fire stations in unincorporated Bay County; new BCSO training facility ($875,000). Total cost estimates: $55,875,000.
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