PANAMA CITY Fla. (WMBB) — The City of Panama City has worked for months to create future plans for the cities of Glenwood, Millville and St. Andrews.
The city took pride in it being a citizen-driven process. However, a group of Glenwood residents feel the city is not listening and neglecting their history.
Gregory Dossie and other concerned residents started the “SOUL movement,” or “Save Our Urban Land movement,” after realizing new draft plans for the Glenwood community did not meet their requests.
“We need black urban planners, designers and architects to come and design a community which encompasses our rich history and our culture,” Dossie said.
Dossie said they want to see more minority businesses, a new African American community cultural center and return Glenwood to its former glory.
Dr. Rufus Wood the President of the Bay County NAACP chapter said he doesn’t just want the city to listen, he wants them to respond.
“We don’t need to forget our history, African Americans have made great sacrifices to this country and not only to this country but the community and that should never be forgotten,” Wood said.
Panama City City Manager Mark McQueen said they did listen to residents. What they learned is people from Glenwood want better economic opportunities, infrastructure and affordable housing.
The city also has a solution to preserve the neighborhood’s culture. That is to create that community cultural center on 15th and MLK boulevard. McQueen said it would benefit all those key ideas.
“The Martin Luther King community center,” McQueen said. “A very robust community center that includes the African American cultural center and has the opportunity for banquet spaces and meeting spaces, education spaces, life skills places.”
Another concern was about when the Florida Department of Transportation widened Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard around 30 years ago it sent away business. The city said these new plans have been created with local minority businesses in mind with plans for them to find a new home at the community center.
McQueen says none of the plans are final, so anyone wanting to voice their opinion still can.
All requests can be sent here.