An iconic DeFuniak Springs business that began in 1924 could soon be controlled by the county.
Walton County Commissioners unanimously voted last month to move forward in the process of obtaining the DeFuniak Springs Country Club.
County Administrator Larry Jones and Commissioner Danny Glidewell said this wasn't a deal the county sought out. The club's leadership, having seen it's membership dwindle, approached the county as a way to improve their service to northern Walton County.
As with any potential change, they said residents were on both sides of the debate. Some were excited for the club's future, others fearful of the proposition.
However, Jones said if the county was to take control of the 190-acre area — including 60 acres of golf course — the transition would be seamless to the public.
"The basics are there," Jones said. "It's just going to take some time to get to fit and finished."
With the addition of the club, Glidewell said the northern part of the county would have an area to conduct swimming lessons, give local golf teams a place to practice and have more space for county events.
He said an inspector from the Unites States Golf Association visited the course, and upon his analysis called it a "treasure."
"While parks aren't typically designed to generate revenue, it would be nice to have a park that did," Glidewell said, and added the revenue could also finance renovations.
According to Jones, the deal — which included the club's purchase for $1 — hasn't been codified yet. He added that a few meetings ago, a committee was established to access the club's current condition, which they then relayed to commissioners and led to a vote for a contract to be written.
"There's a lot of opportunity to grow recreationally there, and with the potential of a source of revenue to support that growth," Jones said, and added the $1 agreement stemmed from a mindset of the deal being less about profitable real-estate, and more about the county's best interest. "It's not something you find very often."
Jones expected the vote on the contract to occur either during February's last meeting or the first in March.
Following a commission meeting on Feb. 12, Louis Svehla, spokesman for Walton County, said the board came to the decision to hold a public workshop at 9 a.m. Feb. 20 to allow the public a chance to comment on the purchase.
From there, Svehla said an item to further discuss the club's future will be put on the board's agenda for its meeting on Feb 26.
"This isn't the end of our efforts to improve the quality of life for our citizens, this is just another piece," Glidewell said. "It's a very nice opportunity to continue to improve the quality of life for our citizens. That's something that also helps economic development."