2024 Brings Continued Growth to PCB

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By Mayor Mark Sheldon

It is an incredible time to be a part of the greater PCB community. We are a City built on welcoming visitors from all walks of life to our beautiful beaches. For decades visitors have relocated here, becoming locals. That trend continues and with it comes the opportunity of balancing the needs of residents and visitors, both part of our vital DNA.

We achieve this balance by putting visitors’ dollars to work making our City the best it can be. Our visitors help us remain the largest city in Florida without a property tax.

When we talk about growth, the first thing that comes to mind is traffic and we continue to make great strides in improving transportation.

The State began the 6-laning of Panama City Beach Parkway last fall. As the main artery, this project will alleviate serious pressure on this road. The City helped successfully move this project from 40 years away to fully funded and under construction now.

Our largest transportation project and highest priority this year is the Front Beach Road CRA. This project allows property taxes paid to Bay County by property owners along Front Beach Road and its main arteries, to come back to the City, creating a transformative project. This year we made significant progress on Segment 3, along Highway 79 and Front Beach Road. The roundabout has reduced traffic congestion. In the next year, we will finish Segment 3 and Alf Coleman Road, and start work on Segments 4.1, 4.2, Powell Adams and Hills roads.

This is a generational project, and has required much patience, but the result will be worth the wait. I share residents’ frustrations with torn up streets and delays, and years of excuses. We are working hard to deliver a project to be proud of. These projects take some years to complete, but they will have a huge impact.

Transportation isn’t our only challenge. Our City is only fun when it is safe. We equip Police and Fire with the tools, training, and personnel necessary to protect our citizens. These include two new fire stations and a fire training tower under construction. We are currently designing a K-9 officer facility too.

We continue to expand our lifeguard program, as beach safety is a top priority. Since 2020, the City has offered lifeguards to hotels/condos under a public-private partnership. The Boardwalk Beach Resort has been an amazing partner in providing beach lifeguards behind its resort. We need other businesses to join this program.

We are in our busy Spring Break season and we have kept our rules that cut down on rowdy behavior. The City closes a small portion of the beach at night to prevent a hot spot from overwhelming our resources. Fortunately, bad behavior comes as isolated incidents.

New exciting partners continue to find PCB. The Duplin Winery opened last year and Dolly Parton’s Pirate Voyage and TopGolf are also coming. These complement our great events like the Beach Ball Drop, the Summer Concert series, car and boat shows, and for the first time ever, the U.S. Air Force Air Show is coming to the City in May. These events show the vibrancy of our community.

Our sports and recreation facilities continue to be one of our greatest strengths. The Publix Sports Park’s success enhances our ability to provide a great place for our youth to pursue their passions. We’re bringing huge updates to Frank Brown Park with a skatepark, new restroom facilities and a pavilion and more pickleball courts.

A new medical campus is set to open phase one this summer. This Medical Office Building will house an urgent care facility and multiple specialties. This complex will be home to a medical facility created through a partnership between The St. Joe Company, Florida State University and Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. This is a research, teaching and clinical delivery hospital serving as an educational facility that trains physicians. This facility is anticipated to have hundreds of beds.

Our beach is special and we are obligated to preserve it. I’m proud of our work to expand the City sewer system to eliminate septic tanks, which harm ground water and water quality in the Gulf. We have plans to keep expanding our sewer system into other areas.

We are also protecting the beach by cleaning Lullwater Lake, which has been neglected for too long. We obtained $3 million in state grants to remove 18 inches of muck from the lake bottom. This is important for the health of this beautiful resource. Preserving resources is a moral imperative.

We truly are a real fun place to live, work, worship, and play. The City is a unique melting pot of residents and visitors and I’m proud of the work this City does to make that melting pot not only work but thrive. We are growing, while staying true to who we are as a family destination.