Reinventing the wheel: Becnel, homeowners disagree on Ferris wheel

Published: Monday, August 5, 2013 at 10:51 AM.

  The opposition

Becnel wanted to add the Ferris wheel to the children's area on Henry Lane in The Village of Baytowne Wharf to join amenities such as the carousel, zip line, and arcade. At the original location, its view would be out of the way of residents and Highway 98. The process of approving the Ferris wheel was almost complete when Sandestin Homeowner's Association brought up that the wheel would impose on the wetlands of that area. Whitney said they've continued to ask why the county would allow the rest of the development on Henry Lane and not the Ferris wheel.

"It got to the point where Tom said 'Let's place it somewhere else and try to move it back to the children's area once we clear up the issue,' " she said of recent plans to move the wheel to the Baytowne Events Plaza.

Becnel said he's tried to set up two different meetings with Commissioner Meadows, but was never given the time. In an e-mail interview with The Sun, Meadows preferred to speak personally about the wheel, and not on the behalf of the county.

"To allow a developer to install a 60-foot (old) Ferris wheel outside the balconies of residential units in the village sends a message to all future buyers of residences (whether the residences are lived in, rented, or bought for investment purposes)," she wrote. "The message is 'Come to Walton County, spend your money, pay your taxes, but we will not protect your investments, homes, or neighborhoods from development that will devalue those same investments.' That is my personal opinion of this type of proposal."

Meadows isn't the only one opposing the Ferris wheel. Sandestin homeowners are not too pleased with the thought of an amusement park ride possibly obstructing their view.

The Gateway Condo Association would be "directly impacted, more so than any other neighborhood association in Sandestin,” Godwin explained. "I don't believe our owners would want to, but they could carry on conversations with riders as they load the Ferris wheel."



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