Bay County and the City of Panama City are on the verge of a land deal that both governments view as a "win-win." But if it goes through, it could have major implications for a local animal advocacy group.
The county has proposed to sell its former government center property at 6th Street and Mulberry Avenue to the city. The 3.23 acre site includes a building that was to be the home of Operation Spay Bay's low cost spay and neuter clinic.
The organization has been raising money to renovate the building since county commissioners agreed to a one year lease for $1 last summer. But the group never executed the lease.
"Recently they've gotten involved with our attorney's office trying to put a lease together, but that's only been in the last several weeks," said Dan Shaw, Assistant County Manager. "Time has transpired to the point where we want to make this deal with the city."
Under the terms of the deal, the county will transfer the property plus $500,000 to the city. The city will pay the debt service on the Bay County Juvenile Justice Courthouse for four years – a total of $1.2 million. That will free up funds that the county will spend to renovate the main courthouse.
The city wants the old county property, which is located in a low lying area prone to flooding during heavy rain, to address long-term drainage issues. "What we would look to do would be to increase the storage capacity of that site so that it can then be used a part of a master downtown drainage strategy," said Jeffrey Brown, Assistant City Manager.
The city will use the half-million dollars from the county to fund a project to widen Jenks Avenue from 23rd Street to Baldwin Road.
As for the spay and neuter clinic, the county is offering a 2,400 square foot metal building at 2017 East Avenue formerly used by the city of Cedar Grove. "Moving the location I don't think is a big issue to them," said Shaw. "I think it's still important to them that they get some kind of assistance from the county and we're still trying to provide that."
Terry Cotter, Operation Spay Bay's treasurer, was surprised to learn of the pending city/county agreement and declined to speculate on how it will affect the clinic's future. The proposed deal is on the Panama City Commission's agenda for discussion at its Tuesday meeting.