It’s that special time of year when we can finally sit back and assess the damage of Spring Break on Panama City Beach. Well, after interviewing Hotel and Condo representatives, living and breathing Spring Break as a resident and taking in the major incidents, only one conclusion could be made: 2010 Spring Break was a success.
This year’s Spring Break was different than previous Breaks for a number of reasons. The TDC’s stance had a huge impact. In past years, it was the TDC’s job to allocate marketing funds towards Spring Break. Hundreds of thousands of bed tax dollars, for years, were put toward drawing fun-loving students aching to party the week away. For 2010, the TDC decided not to allocate funds towards drawing big crowds, but put the monies towards “Spring Break Responsibly” campaigns and engaging in proactive Spring Break public relations activities. On top of that, the TDC requested of the city to hire auxiliary police during peak weeks, augment PCB PD to increase police presence along Front Beach Road, provide additional foot, canine and ATV patrols in areas of high Spring Break activity (including beach walkers to enforce littering, glass and other laws) and to fully implement the Special Events Ordinance to insure gatherings of college students at outdoor concerts and other assemblies have appropriate management and public safety plans in place. In other words, instead of spending money on bringing a crowd, the TDC worked on how to handle the crowd.
If you read our previous article, you know we talked to Paul Casto, the Public Works Director for Panama City Beach, about beach traffic. In said article, Mr. Casto talked about the three problems with our traffic, those being the increase of people on the beach, the addition of three traffic lights and the new traffic light synchronization system east of the Hathaway bridge. We asked Mr. Casto what could be done about the traffic in the future. His answer was simple;
“We have to put a synchronization system on the beach.” That system would improve mobility on Front Beach Road, Hutchinson and Panama City Beach Parkway by keeping the signals synchronized and helping traffic flow more easily. “It is more to it than just that.” Mr. Casto went on to say. “There are other factors as well. With the CRA developments, Front Beach Road will function differently.” Soon there will be a multi-modal tram station on Front Beach Road with a dedicated tram lane that will increase overall mobility. This will decrease the number of vehicles as well as the number of people walking in front of cars.
The future of Panama City Beach infrastructure will include more artery streets that will lead out of Front Beach Road and up to Panama City Beach Parkway. Those additional streets will serve as outlets that currently don’t exist.
“The new airport should have an effect on the traffic too.” The beauty of fly markets means less cars. Less cars, mean less traffic.
The idea is simple. Enhance the infrastructure by providing more outlet streets, by offering more means of public transportation and to synchronize the traffic light system. Traffic is bad, but help is on the way.
“Traffic is as bad as I have ever seen it.” Mr. Casto said, “But we’re working to fix it, it just takes time.”
If you’ve been driving on Front Beach Road close to Wal-Mart recently, you will have no doubt noticed a rather large, oddly-shaped structure located next to Walgreen’s and opposite Ripley’s Believe it or not Museum. In case you were wondering, this imposing building is actually going to be an awesome family attraction by the name of WonderWorks, and is scheduled to be open this summer. Continue reading “Wonder No More: Update on WonderWorks/The Upside Down House”→
Did you get the chance to make it out to Carillon’s “Groovin’ on the Green” free Monday night concert series last summer? If not, you really should make it a point to check it out at least once or twice this season. Not only is the event free, but you get to kick back on the village green in Carillon’s beautiful downtown and listen to some extraordinarily good music. It’s one of Panama City Beach’s top summer events, and features a variety of music stylings for all tastes! Continue reading “Groovin’ on the Green at Downtown Carillon Beach – 2010 Schedule”→
The 2010 Parrothead Rendezvous will take place under the warming Florida sun in Panama City Beach in the sand behind the Barefoot Beach Club. Bring your swim trunks but be wary of the cool water temperatures as the sun will be warm but the water won’t be for at least two more months.
Paul Casto, Panama City Beach’s Public Works Director, has been the public works director for 27 years and is one of Panama City Beach’s most beloved community leaders. One of Paul’s most rewarding achievements was the push for and development of the Panama City Beach Aquatic Center at Frank Brown Park. He believed children needed a place to learn to swim and a place to swim away from the dangers of the beach. He has been a Panama City Beach resident most of his life and believes Panama City Beach is moving in the right direction.
Paul Casto on Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport:
“I believe it will be a huge economic boost. I see more international travelers coming to our area as well as industrial growth which will mean more better-paying jobs for our residents. The locals obviously will benefit from the cheaper flights. I also believe one of the places that will benefit the most is the convention and sports market. More people will be able to come to Panama City Beach cheaper and safer than ever before.”
As Spring Break nears its end and the tally on the damage, incidents and money is being rounded up, the talk of supplanting college spring break in favor of family spring break is spreading across the beach. As far as I know, family spring break is somewhat of a mythical idea. I’m sure families do getaway for the break, but is it enough business to cover the cost of it losing college spring break? Better still, would you bring your family here during your break?
If you have been anywhere on the beach during this years Spring Break, you’ve noticed no doubt that traffic has been unusually bad this year. Sure, Front Beach Road is a given, avoid that traffic-trap at all costs. Traffic on FBR was so astonishingly bad, that Saturday night officials from the Bay County Sheriff’s Office had to close Front Beach Road from 6p.m. until at least 10p.m. But, even Panama City Beach Parkway, known for providing a speedy getaway for residents looking to circumvent the knots of cars, was slammed with bumper to bumper traffic. In fact, the traffic was so bad on the afternoon of the Car Show at Frank Brown Park that Eastbound traffic was backed up will beyond highway 79, leaving a trail of stories of residents taking 388 into town. One could argue that this whole traffic matter was simply a Spring Break phenomenon, but with the new airport coming online, some predict this is only the start of a growing problem. So what’s the deal?
We spent the afternoon touring the new airport site. From the outside, there is still so much land-work to do one would think the open date set for May 23rd is utterly unreachable. But, once we ventured into the terminal it became clear that the airport will definitely make its date. Already, many of the necessary systems are in place, the drywall is up and tile being laid. The baggage claim area is nearly complete and upstairs 4 of the 7 gate bridges are already in place. We even took the 10 story trip up the control tower and took in the view of the whole place and, man, it looks spectacular. I could bore you with all the superlatives, but, why would I when I have pictures. Take a look.
The next time you reach for your phone book to look up a local number, you’ll see the beginnings of an image you’ll come to know intimately in the near future; Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport.
More than 336,000 copies of this AT&T Real Yellow Pages directory have been produced for distribution in the area this year. Delivery is underway, and will continue through May 10. The directory also will be available to new residents and businesses throughout the year.
“We are pleased to feature the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport on the cover of our new AT&T Real Yellow Pages directory for this area,” said Barb Orton, general manager- Emerald Coast region. “We always strive to make our directory covers special on the outside and to tailor the content inside to best serve the needs of our communities. You can count on the AT&T Real Yellow Pages as your complete source of local information.” Continue reading “New Airport To Grace Phonebook Covers”→