In a disappointing two-to-one ruling by the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals arbitration panel, the City’s request for federal funding to replace the Marina Civic Center was denied. Despite the Panel’s ruling, the City is still eligible to receive federal dollars for repairs and is continuing the market analysis plans for a new Performing Arts and Events Center.
“The City continues to move forward with the ongoing market analysis for the new performing arts and events center” said City Manager Mark McQueen. “The Panel’s decision is a wrinkle, not a roadblock, in our commitment to rebuilding a premiere City with a culturally rich arts community.”
The arbitration hearing focused on whether the HVAC system for the Civic Center was damaged as a result of Hurricane Michael. The condition of the HVAC system was a determining factor in whether the Civic Center would be more than 50-percent damaged and be eligible to receive funding for a full replacement. The City provided both technical reports and certified damage assessments in conjunction with expert testimony from specialized engineers and building officials documenting that wind-driven rain and salt water damaged the system beyond repair.
Two of the three panel judges deemed the engineer reports and testimony were not persuasive enough to prove the water damage to the HVAC electrical components warranted a full replacement. The third judge wrote separate of the ruling stating the City satisfied the requirements for replacement funding and cites FEMA and the panel majority ignored FEMA’s own site inspector who reported the HVAC system as requiring removal and replacement.
Read the full decision from the United States Civilian Board of Contract Appeals in this link, https://panamacity.gov/DocumentCenter/View/7219/Civic-Center---Arbitration-Decision
The City and its architects began a market analysis to help define the amenities, size, location, and cost for the new Panama City Performing Arts and Events Center in April of this year. The architects have hosted a series of public meetings this summer to share updates on the market analysis and gather feedback from the community. With this determination, the City continues to move forward with the market analysis. The next public meeting to discuss the future facility is scheduled for Thursday, July 28 at 5:30 p.m. Citizens may in-person at Panama City Center for the Arts, located at 19 E. 4th Street or virtually via Zoom. To join via Zoom, the Meeting ID is 833 4424 9023 and Passcode is 184811.
The City anticipates the architects to present their final presentation and recommendations to the City Commission and the community in August.