PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Designers, architects and city officials were eager to hear what residents had to say about their conceptual designs for Joe Moody Harris Park Monday night.
They showed off those designs during an open house at the park, and dozens of residents showed up to see the proposals and give suggestions.
“This is a community-based facility, and they’re the individuals that are going to be using it, their families and their friends,” Panama City Quality of Life director Sean DePalma said. “We want to make sure we’re putting back here what they want to enjoy on a daily basis and throughout the years.”
Hurricane Michael took down more than 1,200 of the park’s trees in 2018, destroying the facilities.
“Now we’re standing up, we’re rebuilding, and we’re doing it better than before,” DePalma said.
Even since the storm, Joe Moody Harris Park has faced some harsh times. It was vandalized just a few months ago.
“We got together as a community and cleaned the park up because it was being taken over by folk who were putting out messages that were contrary to the good people in Panama City and in this neighborhood,” Panama City resident Janice Lucas said. “We are looking forward to the park coming back.”
Lucas lives right next to the park, and she said she has ideas for additions to the current design concepts, including an element of urban ecology.
“We can connect teaching our youth about nature and the environment, as well as a place for people to come and learn community gardening, how to grow their own food,” Lucas said. “We’d like for the park to be a place not just for leisure, but for education.”
DePalma called the open house a success.
“It’s been extremely positive… They like what we’ve brought out as a start, and then they’re giving us input of some of the things they would like to see at it and we’re very open to that,” he said. “We’re gonna look to see how we can incorporate it.”
Lucas said she’s looking forward to the future of the park.
“I think these plans are a good first draft, and that community input is very much needed to get it to what we want, so that the people who actually live in this neighborhood can enjoy the park and benefit from it, as well,” she said.