Those in South Walton who want more sports fields will be pleased to know that plans to purchase land for that purpose is moving forward, however slowly.
The purchase was discussed again at the Board of County Commissioners meeting Tuesday.
District 5 Commissioner Cindy Meadows seemed to favor moving ahead with the parcel that was originally presented by Marilu Lammon on behalf of M.C. Davis. Meadows noted this one is the cheapest, has no homes around it, and there would be a road to the site. However, it is the parcel located fartherest east — situated east of County Road 395, the 34 acres rest north of U.S. Highway 98.
Meadows noted there is room to expand there and it could be adjacent to a new school that is planned nearby. And she noted that money for the purchase could be taken from the same account that funds new sheriff's vehicles.
Meadows also said the urgency in moving forward with securing land for more sports fields as battles are ensuing at Helen McCall Park over who will use which field.
However, the majority of the Board wanted to take a closer look at all the options available.
County Administrator Larry Jones was tasked with coming back to the Board with a better rundown on what each parcel offers and what the drawbacks on each might be.
"The major criteria in considering each site is they must have 20 contiguous acres located in South Walton," said Jones, "but also important is location, funding, upland, and what problems will need to be addressed at each location."
All the parcels originally looked at are still available. Jones said he and the Tourist Development Council Executive Director Jim Bagby will revisit all four.
The other three locations are:
- Approximately 26 acres in Miramar Beach close to the water treatment plant, is the property that is fartherest west.
- Approximately 20 acres on Thompson Road, between U.S. Highway 98 and County Road 30A.
- Approximately 30 acres just south of Chat Holley, which would be closest to South Walton High School.
The sports complex issue was first considered at the June 11, 2013 BCC meeting when Meadows asked the Board to consider a proposal from M.C. Davis about his parcel being utilized as a sports/recreational complex.
Jones and Bagby were then directed to explore available options and return with recommendations.
Three workshops were held, exploring current facilities, needs, use of the facilities, desired locations, and funding.
At the third workshop Larry Zehnder, Senior Parks and Recreation Planner for Barge, Waggoner, Sumner & Cannon, presented an in depth look into the process and costs of planning and building a state-of-the-art sports complex.
The most desirable/needed facilities are multipurpose fields, baseball fields, softball fields.
Funding possibilities include ad valorem taxes, special district, bed tax, school district partnerships.
The facility should be geared towards locals.
Information about this subject is available on the website https://walton.legistar.com/calendar.
The report from Jones is expected to be delivered at the BCC's May meeting.