PANAMA CITY BEACH Fla. (WMBB) — The city council in Panama City Beach is in the process of reviewing its budget, which includes changes to the future of Frank Brown Park’s Aquatic Center.
“I train here for probably 4 to 6 hours a week,” said Doctor of Physical Therapy Natalia Busuttil.
Busuttil is training to be in the Ironman 70.3 she has participated in many triathlons in the past and uses the Panama City Beach Aquatic Center to prepare, and she has not the only one.
Busuttil refers a lot of her patients to this pool because there are limited pools available for their needs.
“And what’s nice is that the pool has accommodations so that way patients can enter and exit the pool,” said Busuttil.
Recently at the August 18 Panama City Beach budget workshop, the general fund, stormwater fund, pier fund, and this aquatic center were all discussed.
The idea of closing the pool during the winter months was mentioned to save money. Busuttil said she speaks on the behalf of the entire triathlon community.
“I’m sure the city council intends to do what’s best for the community,” she said. “However, I’m not sure it’s the best option, because it is such a resource for the community. Both for youth, for the elderly community that participates in aqua therapy and for the triathletes that come not just from the panhandle but all around the world.”
The city said in a statement, closing the pool during the winter will save on utilities. But staff said the pool heaters are energy efficient and would not mean significant savings.
Anytime Busuttil comes to the pool, it is full. So she does, not think the city should close this community resource.
“I would say spend a day here, see how many people actually utilize the facility,” said Busuttil. “Ask people what it means to them, and you will find out it actually means a lot.”
City officials have not made a final decision on the future of the Aquatic Center.