On Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 20, Walton County commissioners Cecilia Jones and Melanie Nipper held a round-table meeting at the Mossy Head Community Center to present proposed plans for the use of RESTORE Act funds in our community. Commissioner Nipper proposed a project wherein 140 acres of land owned by the county would be used to develop housing. Commissioner Nipper repeatedly described the housing project as “for veterans.” Another county official described it as “Section 8 housing.”

A local resident pointed out to Commissioner Nipper that Blackstone, the 1,300-acre development, was already in place in Mossy Head. This news seemed to take Commissioner Nipper by surprise. Nevertheless, she alleged that Blackstone’s housing would cost around $350,000. Perhaps she should read the Northwest Florida Daily News.

Kari C. Barlow interviewed Bob Bonezzi and Doug Campbell in a Feb. 25, 2007 article titled “A Working Community” wherein they described Blackstone as “ 2,200 single-family homes, 725 townhomes and 400 apartments with a town center featuring 140,000 square feet of commercial space and 37,500 square feet of office space.” With regard to the cost of homes, Mr. Bonezzi said, “We could probably get the price down $138,500.”

The Blackstone project has been held up by government. Now, government intends to use RESTORE Act funds to begin a competing project. Will the same government that has delayed Blackstone for TEN YEARS treat the government project the same way or will it use the same regulatory powers that have held up Blackstone to advance a government-owned project? Is it legal or ethical for government to use RESTORE Act funds against free enterprise where citizens have risked their own money rather than taxpayer dollars?

Surely the taxpayers would be better served if government would GET OUT OF THE WAY of a free enterprise affordable housing initiative, rather than using RESTORE Act money to build a competing one. Whenever government does anything, it’s the taxpayers who foot the bill.

Bill Ferrand, DeFuniak Springs