Bay County applies for more than $30 million in post-Michael recovery grants

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Bay County officials announced Thursday that they have applied for $30 million in community development block grant funds for post-Hurricane Michael recovery.

Officials proposed five projects that they hope to receive funding for including stormwater and drainage improvements.

But they say their top priority is an $18.5 million project to build a community center and multi-purpose shelter.

“After Hurricane Michael, we saw a tremendous need for long-term sheltering and we sheltered everyone in our schools which was really the worst place to shelter,” said Keith Bryant, Bay County public works director. “The community is wanting to get back to normal after a disaster. You can’t do that if we’re in the schools and the schools can’t open.”

Bryant added that the project will also provide a long-term shelter for pets, provide dedicated shelter resources for the special needs community and replace the Hiland Park Fire Station.

This phase of funding has $111 million dollars available to fund projects. Bryant says they could expect funding decisions by as soon as the end of the calendar year.

A full list of the projects and descriptions can be found below:

Bay County Community Center/Multi-Purpose Shelter and Fire Station Campus – $18.5 million

This multi-purpose campus will include a new access road, site improvements, a helipad, a Fire and Emergency Medical Services station, a community center/hardened shelter facility for first responders, residents and special needs residents, an animal services facility, a shelter storage warehouse and a staging area.

East Hiland Stormwater Improvements – $2.4 million

This project intends to reduce residential, commercial and roadway flooding and improve stormwater quality in a low- to middle-income area bordering Panama City, Springfield and Cedar Grove. The project request is for funding property acquisition and construction for a stormwater facility. The project entails construction of a 12.5-acre stormwater detention facility to service a flood-prone area.

Redwood Avenue Drainage Improvements – $1.35 million

The proposed project will help reduce flooding of the area between U.S. 231 and East 11th Street by abandoning the existing culvert and replacing it with a new 48-inch culvert along U.S. 98/East 15th Street and Redwood Avenue. The scope of work for this project involves preliminary site investigations, engineering and design, permitting, construction of the new culvert pipe and abandonment of the existing culvert pipe, site controls and restoration and construction administration.

Watson Bayou Drainage Improvements – $2.47 million

The proposed project will help reduce flooding of the Watson Bayou drainage basin between U.S. 231 and U.S. 98/15th Street areas through the construction of a new 15-acre, 127 acre-foot stormwater storage facility between Industrial Drive and the rail line to its south. This project will improve stormwater capacity within the service area of the facility, thereby improving flood protection and reducing the incidence of flooding for nearby communities. This project will benefit an estimated 51 low- to middle-income units and 131 residents. The scope of work for this project includes property acquisition, preliminary site investigations, engineering and design, permitting, construction of the new stormwater storage facility, site controls and restoration and wetlands mitigation.

Fountain Community Center and Sheriff Substation – $5.9 million

This complex will consist of a new hurricane-resistant building to house a community recreational center, office space and storage, a sheriff’s substation, parking and site improvements at 12331 E. State Road 20 in Fountain. During emergency events, the community center will be a hardened shelter for first responders and residents, a staging area for Public Works crews, a post-disaster recovery center and a business recovery center.

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