Second MLK Rec Center charrette sparks more debate surrounding the rebuild

Local News

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Panama City held it’s second charrette for the Martin Luther King Jr. rec center rebuild Thursday night.

Several people at Thursday’s meeting said a pool or splash bad should be a higher priority but that wasn’t the only point of contingency.

Right now, the plans are to reuse the old rec center because the architecture group said it is still structurally sound but some people aren’t happy with that plan either.

Some residents insisted children, the primary group for the rec center, have not been thought of during the process.

“But what about the children? They’re always last,” said one concerned resident.

CCR Architecture and Interiors said they plan to use what’s left of the old rec center but some at Thursday’s meeting want the whole building scrapped.

“And now you’re still trying to give us leftovers,” said one resident. “A leftover building, been there almost three years, and you’re going to re-do it everything else been torn down.”

However, Panama City Quality of Life Director, Sean DePalma said children have been included in the process by hosting two different charrettes for them to attend last year.

“What we did is we gave them an opportunity to design parks and a recreation center so we used that information when we sat with our actual firm that we contract to do this project,” DePalma said.

As for the building, DePalma said by using the old rec center they can open the new one sooner and it allows them to stay in FEMA parameters.

“Cause if we did not do that, the timeframe would expand out over a year and a half additional time,” DePalma said.

DePalma said the proposed concession area that would allow food trucks was a suggestion from a child. Despite the challenges, he is optimistic they can work with the community.

“There’s different opinions of what happened in the past, but we’re looking for the future that’s why we’re laying out the master plans, getting input of what we’re going to design and build for future use for the entire community,” DePalma said.

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