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No offense to vets, but Fla. city officials oppose renaming Tyndall Parkway to Veterans Boulevard

Vehicles travel along a patch of Highway 98 outside Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., on June 28, 2018.

SOLOMON COOK/U.S. AIR FORCE

By COLLIN BREAUX | The News Herald, Panama City, Fla. | Published: June 29, 2019

CALLAWAY, Fla. (Tribune News Service) — Callaway officials are opposed to Tyndall Parkway being renamed Veterans Boulevard, as recently suggested by the City of Panama City.

During a Panama City Commission meeting on Tuesday, Panama City City Manager Mark McQueen suggested getting the process started to rename U.S. 98 to Veterans Boulevard in honor of the local veteran community. U.S. 98 is also known as Tyndall Parkway in Callaway and Parker and 15th Street in Panama City. The renaming would cover U.S. 98 from the Hathaway Bridge at the Panama City city limits to DuPont Bridge.

"We would prefer to just keep it as Tyndall Parkway," said Pamn Henderson, mayor of Callaway. "As much respect as we have for the veterans, we have Veterans Park. We actually renamed Cherry Street– unofficially, it's just an honorary title – Veterans Boulevard. "We have the annual Veterans Day parade that goes down Veterans Boulevard and ends in Veterans Park and we always have some events going down there in Veterans Park. We feel we do a lot for veterans. We have the utmost respect for veterans from all branches of the service."

Callaway officials also prefer to keep the Tyndall Parkway name because of their "great" relationship with Tyndall Air Force Base which they "value very highly" and to honor the base, Henderson said.

"Callaway is a military community and that's reflected through static displays of the T-38 and F-15 at Veterans Park," Callaway City Manager Eddie Cook said. "Our largest event in the city is the Veterans Day parade. These are all things we do specifically in dedication to veterans but also for Tyndall Air Force Base."

Reached for a response, McQueen said the community has an opportunity to decide how they feel and he respects Henderson and the Callaway commission. McQueen said "hopefully" other communities can see how Veterans Boulevard is intended to honor veterans.

"We're moving forward. We believe in our retirees and active duty," McQueen said. "That's the beauty of our individual municipalities to determine what's best for themselves. This is a great way we can honor our veterans."

Cook said the renaming will also cause costs for people changing addresses and added expenses for businesses along Tyndall Parkway. Henderson said changes will be a "major headache."

Panama City officials noted during their Tuesday meeting the renaming will require involvement from state legislators and the Florida Department of Transportation. The process is said to take a minimum of 12 months.

"The City of Panama City has been recently recognized with Bay County as a top-five military-friendly community in the nation," McQueen said Tuesday. "Additionally, we acknowledge that the City of Panama City and Bay County, 30% of the entire economy is based on the DoD enterprise which is largely with Tyndall Air Force Base and Naval Support Activity Panama City."

Cook said he can understand where Panama City officials are coming from.

"I think it's wonderful. I think it would be a wonderful name change for 15th Street," Cook said. "While we cherish the partnership with our other cities – that is never, ever going to be a question, we always want to work in unison with them – Callaway just feels like we would prefer to keep with Tyndall Parkway since we do have so many events and parks and roads that are respectful to our veterans. Tyndall Parkway is respectful to our Air Force base."

The proposed renaming has also drawn backlash on social media from people, including veterans, who said Panama City officials should instead focus on fixing streets and hurricane recovery. Others, however, support the change to Veterans Boulevard since it honors veterans.

Code enforcement

In other Callaway news, the commission voted Tuesday to dissolve the city code enforcement board in favor of a magistrate system. The magistrate system is effective July 1.

"We feel like it's going to streamline our process for code enforcement. It will allow for our officers, basically, to start writing citations for people that are non-conforming," Cook said. "Now, the main thing I want to say when I say citations, is they're not going out next week and writing tickets. Even pre-storm we have been working on this process to streamline it and get some enforcement behind what we were currently doing."

Currently Callaway citizens could go into non-compliance and go six months before anything potentially happens, which Cook said "doesn't work to help clean up the city."

"We're now in the search for a magistrate. It's on our website," Cook said. "Also, it's going to be in the paper. We'll be looking for a magistrate. We're preferring attorneys but it's not a requirement. They need to have code enforcement background."

The city will educate citizens on the process and work with people dealing with Hurricane Michael aftermath. Examples of non-compliance include tall grass, derelict vehicles, harmful structures and trash in the yard. The Callaway website is cityofcallaway.com.

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