More than a year ago, Panama City set out to solve issues with the alleyways in the Glenwood and Millville communities. Many were overgrown and proved to be dangerous for residents, and an eyesore for the city.
Now, the view is getting a bit clearer tonight. While there's still some work left to be done, city leaders say what the community has been able to accomplish so far has established a much needed sense of pride.
Maggie Bell Houston has called Glenwood home for about 70 years. However, her house hasn't always felt like a home, as she battled the blight in her alleyway.
"It was just weeds and everything," Houston said.
Before, she could barely get her car down the alleyway, but that's not the case anymore.
"Much better, much better," Houston said. "You can come in one way pretty good."
For city commissioner Kenneth Brown and the Community Redevelopment Agency, it's a small sign their larger plan is working.
"All they alleys in the neighborhood in the CRA area boundaries have been cleared," Commissioner Brown said.
It's been a long journey to that point. Back in October 2011 frustrations reached a fever pitch. The city held a town hall to address the residents' concerns. Since then, an alleyway crew was created under a city-wide cleanup abatement program. They've gone through and transformed the public alleyways.
In addition to that effort, private citizens have been pulling their weight in their neighborhoods - as in the case of Ms. Houston. One of her neighbors, Ecclesiastes Edwards got together with others in the neighborhood to help clear out the driveway.
"We got together...the guys in the community got together and we got the job done," Edward says.
Since last year, the city has seen many volunteers come out and pitch in their efforts to clean their alleys. It's that sense of community and pride the commissioner says is a welcome byproduct of the program.
"If the community continues to get involved, there is no limit to what we can do," Brown said.
The CRA says this upcoming year they have $170,000 allocated to the overall abatement program. Commissioner Brown says he's getting input on more cleanup options, including possibly bringing in volunteers from the workforce center get to involved.