Community raises questions about proposed sports complex

Published: Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 04:11 PM.

"I am very much in favor of the sports complex if a year around covered Olympic-size swimming pool is included. Frank Brown Park missed out on the U.S. Olympic swimmers training. Maybe we could have Olympic training in our area," said Eastern Lake 's Peggy Jones.

Jane Anderson of Gulf Place also wants to know about swimming pools and tennis courts. "We traveled many years and miles with our son, Chris, who played tournament tennis. There are no public facilities here for that venue or even for locals to learn the sport. I totally agree with Cindy Meadows that it needs to be funded by the TDC. Any benefit to Walton County citizens is a bonus," she said.

"I have mixed emotions about the county's purchase of Mr. Davis's land, and do feel there is a need on a much smaller scale for local children. However, my children lived and attended school in South Walton for years K-12-college and survived very well without a sports complex. But this is not an issue about our children or their needs; rather it is about attracting 'Sporting Tourism' 'Playcation' dollars to South Walton. We are a small viable beach community that has been and is still growing at rapid pace. We need to stop and think what the outcome and consequences will be — something that has not always been done. Is the goal to become a community attracting those who wish to participate in a 25,000-foot skate park, with four multi-purpose fields, six volley ball courts, with a focus on lacrosse and a 1.8 acre amphitheater in hopes of driving sporting tourism to Walton County while competing with our neighbors to the east and west, both who already have similar complexes each just 25 minutes away? I do believe more time needs to be addressed with the details of this project, the infrastructure, traffic problems that will occur, and the Walton County Sheriff's Department manpower that will be needed for events, and when not in use," said Seagrove's Susan Benton.

Realtor Bobby Johnson also agrees that the complex should be for the locals instead of tourists. "I really think it's long over due but I do not think it needs to be a focus to bring more people here. It needs to be for the people that are already here. We need this as a community. I would hope some of the focus could be to relieve some congestion on 30A by allowing this complex to be an arts venue," he suggested.

Inlet Beach 's Susan Alfieri also would like to see the land used as an arts venue. "Wonderful! But surely, with all that acreage there would be room for a performing arts/recreation center along with all the proposed sports fields. Not just another amphitheater, but a well-designed covered complex that Walton County could be proud of and not have to apologize for weather-related postponements/cancellations. If tourist revenue soars with increased use of their ball parks, how would the tourist dollar extend for Walton County to match revenue drawn by Bay's Civic Center and Okaloosa's Mattie Kelly? I understand land for a performing arts center was donated a decade ago, but plans shelved for lack of commitment and funding," she said.

And others are concerned about the environmental impact.

"I would like to know more about the land being used as a wastewater spray field in the past and the environmental assessment that was done," said Seagrove's Sally Smith. "I'm assuming the intent of this complex is to attract more visitors to South Walton. I think we're getting close to maxed out with our infrastructure and ability to handle more visitors. I would like to see current visitor issues resolved before we add to them."

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