Businesses, Residents Stand By Proposed Resource Center - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Businesses, Residents Stand By Proposed Resource Center

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Panama City, Fla. -

This weekend downtown Panama City is having an open house where dozens of properties will be available for lease and purchase. One problem the area has seen over the years is vagrancy. A decision to build a new homeless center could allow them to move business in.

Although ordinances are improving crime rates, residents and business owners say this decision will really change the landscape, and many are on board.

"I would be for it if it would benefit [the homeless], I'm sure the businesses downtown would be happier with it," resident Angela Posey said.

For residents like Jessy Oltz, the issue has made it's way to her backyard.

"They were actually sleeping in my back shed," Oltz said. "So nothing against them, everybody needs somewhere to stay, I just don't think this is the proper location for them."

The announcement that a new resource center was going to be built adjacent to the Bay County Jail is being met with approval by Downtown and Cove residents, but the reception isn't as warm for those living near the proposed center.

In fact the outrage is building. A Facebook group is up, email is flooding city inboxes, and some are even going as far as protesting the move by dressing as vagrants at Merrit Brown Middle school near the proposed site. The sign one protestor carried read "I'm loving my new neighborhood."

Downtown business owners say they don't see the same concern

"People won't be roaming like they would be downtown, where we've got streets, water fountains, access to things homeless people can use," Barbara Kleinhoff, owner of No Regrets.

According to the center's web site, the property will be "fenced on all sides and there will be a single entrance and exit point for all traffic."

"This is a real controlled environment, where they'll be able to come in and they won't be wondering about," said Debra Anderson owner of Elegant Endeavors Emporium. "They'll be able to get the services they need in order to get them on their feet."

The details of the center, including more about the building's security can be found on their web site, http://www.bayarearesourcecenter.com/. The open house is noon to six Saturday.