An ice house located at Panama City Marina needs to be moved. The ice house is a large structure about 80 feet long and 20 to 25 feet high. It produces ice for a majority of the commercial and even some recreational fishing vessels in the area. Fishing boats from Southport and Watson Bayou also reportedly use the ice source which is privately owned.
According to Director of Marinas Bill Lloyd, boats who use the ice purchase anywhere from $260-270,000 in fuel helping the municipal marinas stay afloat.
"It's critical," said Lloyd. "I mean I think we are down to where we need a decision."
But the question is where? Panama City has offered St. Andrews as a solution, but that answer is not sitting well with local business owners.
"I just don't see it being a great venue for what we've been trying to do for the past 20 years in St. Andrews," said Sean Lyon, co-owner of Uncle Ernie's in the historic downtown.
Lyon says there are no guarantees of appearance or noise levels the structure will make.
"They keep saying we aren't gonna notice it, well they don't have a cloaking device to make it disappear," said Lyon.
And while he agrees that the ice house is an integral part of the commercial fishing community, Lyon says St. Andrews is not the right answer.
"When you look out there and it's 80 feet long and 20 feet tall you're going to see it everyday," said Lyon.
"The fishing boats have to have ice to go fishing," said Kenyon Gandy. "If they are deprived of a place to have or receive ice it will put them out of business."
Kenyon Gandy of Buddy Gandy Seafood Inc., relies heavily on the commercial fishing industry.
"It's not a question of whether you have an ice plant or not," said Gandy. "You have to have one.
"So, it's just a matter of where is more convenient for every body that's involved."
Gandy says the ice house needs to stay in Panama City to make it easily accessible.
"Preferably between the two marinas if they could find a place that would work good," said Gandy. "It would be more convenient for the boats on St. Andrews Marina, but it's going to be a problem of utilization of space."
"It's a benefit to them and it could be a negative for our restaurants," said Commissioner Mike Nichols. "So, we just want to make sure we are balanced on this thing and when we move it is it what's best for everybody."
The location will be put to a vote at Tuesday's commission meeting unless the issue is tabled. That meeting will take place at 5:00 at Panama City City Hall.