Tuesday the Bay County Commissioners “balked” at the idea of giving the City of Panama City Beach $108,000 to fund lifeguards at Rick Seltzer Park because of the expense and liability concerns. Seriously? I mean, come on. We went through this last year, all the controversy, and we had 11 tourists that drown here on our beaches! Pensacola has had 4 drownings in five years, Walton County had none last year, we had 11! Eleven drownings in one year! That’s more in one year than we’ve ever had! How does this not deeply concern those in charge?
Today, a Letter to the Editor was published in the News Herald that’s quite good. In fact, some of the above was sourced from it. Read it here.
The writer goes on to say that one could make a worthy argument that safer beaches could, in fact, be used as a marketing ploy to help draw people to our area. We want a WOW marketing campaign, how’s this for a nugget: “Feel Safe on Panama City Beach” – that will draw families. How does the bad press look when potential visitors hear about 11 people drowning in our waters in one year, as opposed to none in our neighboring Walton County, whom I might ad is our direct competition. Are people scared of coming to our beaches? Are our beaches deemed dangerous to tourists looking to come to our area? State your opinion in the comments section.
I understand there are legal ramifications for everything and liability issues with every action we as a community make, but why aren’t we taking tourism and city officials from our neighboring areas out to lunch to pick their brains on how they are doing it. This isn’t some novel idea that no one’s figured out how to do. Communities are doing this, communities have been doing this for a long time, there is a formula that works, and we need to employ it in Panama City Beach.
The author of the article reminds us that Chairman Jerry Girvin backed away from supporting this Tuesday after receiving conflicting reports from lawyers concerning liabilities of the County. What!? So, find another lawyer, read the precedents he proposes and make a more informed decision. Again, others are doing this, and the success is obviously apparent.
Commissioner Mike Thomas was concerned about the idea of spending $100k on something that primarily benefited tourists. Yea, benefitted tourists LIVES. 100 grand to save a few lives is more than worth it – the good publicity we’d get off it alone would make it worth our while, saving lives would be icing on the cake. Oh, and may I remind you that tourists are the lifeblood of our area? We have NO industry here except tourism. We scare them off, we’re screwed.