It’s been a while since we’ve talked about the CRA, and frankly, it’s not looked like a lot of progress has been made – on the surface. But, most of the work that has happened to date, has been mostly out of sight. “During initial phases of construction, most of the work involves underground utilities, we dig stuff up, bury it back, dig up more stuff, and bury it again,” said Mario Gisbert, the Panama City Beach Assistant City Manager.
Much of the underground utility work is done on South Thomas Drive, including the new water main. The entire water system on South Thomas Drive has been replaced and all water is being fed on the new system. Mario explained the complexities of the expansion, describing that the old underground utility systems are where the new ones need to go, so it’s essential to get each system in place (water first, then power, then storm water last) and operational before they get started on the next component.
Here is more in depth information about this portion of the CRA.
The section of the CRA they are working on is along South Thomas Drive and a section of Front Beach Road. South Thomas Drive is the road that Boardwalk Beach Resort, Pineapple Willys, Laketown Wharf and Shores of Panama are on. The section of Front Beach Road they are working on includes the stretch in between Laketown Wharf (the other side) and Wal-Mart, up to include the intersection of Front Beach Road and Middle Beach Road.
CRA stands for Community Redevelopment Area and is the element that is charged with infrastructure improvements in Panama City Beach.
There are two storm water retention ponds being build in this section of the CRA. But “storm water retention” sounds so tacky, so we’ll call them amenity ponds from now on, since, after all, they will be made into amenities, will at one point be dedicated and given names. Both of the ponds are done from an infrastructure stand-point, with their feed pipes installed and ready to accept storm water. Right now, they are working to get the pretty stuff in place, including walkways, boardwalks, prepping for brick pavers and landscaping.
Each pond will have a “viewing platform” that are essentially concrete walls, but they will be covered with stacked stone and adorned with hand-rails. The pond next to the McDonalds by Wal-Mart will have picnic tables and umbrellas and the pond across from Boardwalk Beach Resort, next to Alvin’s Island will have a large boardwalk by Front Beach Road, and a lighted sidewalk around the outside of the pond.
The entire portion of the CRA project is expected to be complete by the end of 2011.
Enough text, lets look at some pictures.
Here are some photos I took this morning.