PCB Council says ¡®no' to Senior Center cuts
PANAMA CITY BEACH ¡ª Nobody knows where the rumors were started, but the City Council decided to squelch them Thursday and reassure city seniors.
Both Vice Mayor Ken Nelson, running for mayor against current Mayor Gayle Oberst, and council candidate Phil Chester said Thursday worried seniors have approached them on the campaign trail and called them at home, concerned that city funding for the Senior Center would be eliminated if they were elected.
Chester, a deacon in his church who is making his first run for office, said seniors were hearing that votes for both him and Nelson, as a pair, meant no more senior funding.
¡°That is the furthest from the truth,¡± said Chester, who faces current Councilman Rick Russell in the April 17 election. ¡°My seniors, my widows and my widowers are my main concern.¡±
Nelson raised the issue at the City Council meeting and the entire council was quick to put the issue to rest, with all members going on record to continue full funding for both the Senior Center and the Boys and Girls Club.
¡°My goodness. Why would we cut funding?¡± Councilwoman Josie Strange said following the meeting. ¡°We are all going to be seniors some day.¡±
In other business, the council seemed to change course on a couple of issues once thought settled: an abandoned building and an April 17 referendum allowing closure of public beach access #45.
City resident Richard McMahon, who owns property near #45, showed council members photos of both beach access #45 and public beach access #44, which is much narrower and should be closed instead, he said.
¡°It becomes a safety issue,¡± he told council members.
City Council members seemed swayed by his arguments, although the referendum still will be on the ballot. If approved, the referendum gives the council the authority to close the public access point.
¡°I¡¯ve continued to say it shouldnever have come up for a vote,¡± said Strange, who voted against the proposal with Nelson but lost in a 3-2 vote againstOberst, Russell and John Reichard.
Members also seemed to backtrack on an earlier request tocityBuildingand Planning Director Mel Leonard, whom they had asked to collect information about how much it would cost to make an abandoned six-story building at 612 Gardenia St. presentable and safe before the council decided to demolish it.
Council members now want to move straight to finding out how much demolition would cost and how long it might take to get the city¡¯s money back from the owner.