TDC gets an earful at forum

Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 05:09 PM.

It was noted in advance that the workshop was not to include discussion about the proposed new TDC building, potential site considerations, or needs of visitor center relocation as this will be covered in a separate workshop at a later date. However, the crowd didn’t always heed the warning.

"I question their spending priorities, especially with spending for a new building," said Buz Livingston, who also writes a financial column for The Walton Sun. "Tourists don't use the TDC building. When I am traveling I stop at a TDC for the clean restrooms. We pull up for our travels on our smart phones. It's about priorities." Livingston also pressed for more budget transparency online.

Others in the crowd voiced their concern for the area's infrastructure.

Bob Hudson, with the Walton County Taxpayers Association, said he believes the TDC is efficient, but there needs to be a balance in the quest to attract tourists.

"We have attracted a lot of people to this area, but you can only put so many people on the beach," he said. "We need to find a way to expand our offerings past the beach. If we can't accommodate people in a hospitable fashion, there's no point in luring more."

Others agreed that the answers may lie in expanding attractions past our snowy white beaches — such as into the cultural realm.

Cultural Arts Association Executive Director Jennifer Steele pointed out the group produces events and receives funds from the TDC, but that it would like to see a strategic plan to make Walton County into more of a cultural arts destination.

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