DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — County officials are working to give residents more public amenities.
After about of year of construction, one of Walton's newest additions is almost ready to be unveiled: the South Walton sports complex.
The facility north of U.S. Highway 98 and Dune Lakes Elementary School is expected to be open before fall, county spokesman Louis Svehla said. The complex will feature three baseball diamonds, three multi-use fields, two sets of bathrooms, a large picnic area, a playground and a concession stand.
Svehla added the complex was funded by a capital improvement loan — being repaid with general funds — and some recreational plat fees.
The addition isn't expected to generate much revenue, but will used for local sports, he said.
Other recreational developments — a park near the north end of the Mid-Bay Bridge and two neighborhood pocket parks — are also in the works, Svehla said
"We want to give people good places where they can go and they can congregate, and they can enjoy what our county has to offer," he said. "Whether that's the beach, whether that's a boat ramp, the bay, or just a neighborhood area where people can walk to and take their families."
Svehla said the county also has acquired 10 acres adjacent to Santa Rosa Beach's Helen McCall Park for expansion. Also, the design phase for the upcoming skate park at Helen McCall is almost complete, he said.
"A lot of it is a funding issue," said Svehla, who added the county has partnered with local nonprofit organization, Walton Skate Society, to bring the project to life.
"It's one of those projects that's certainly moving slow, but it was always intended to move at a slower pace than most because we are working with a nonprofit trying to do this hand-and-hand with the community," Svehla said.
One of the county's biggest challenges when developing a new park is to find land, Svehla said. He broke parks down into different categories including sports facilities, pocket parks — smaller public hangouts normally between neighborhoods or bordering water — and regional beach accesses.
"It's important for the county to have these recreational facilities," Svehla said. "Anytime we can provide (parks) to the public ... it's certainly a benefit to that neighborhood and area."