SANTA ROSA BEACH — While county taxpayers won't get to vote on whether a fishing pier should be built, they now own a country club.
Walton County commissioners voted Tuesday to assume ownership of the DeFuniak Springs Country Club by paying off its $48,000 worth of debt.
Commissioner Chairman Tony Anderson abstained from voting because he owns property adjacent to the club's golf course.
County spokesman Louis Svehla said he expected the transfer of the 190-acre property to be complete by April 1.
"I think a lot of good business got done," he said. "We'll continue to look at what we can do environmentally, recreationally, and what we believe is best for this area."
One recreation option the commission did not embrace Tuesday was researching the possibility of a public fishing pier in South Walton.
Since 2016, county resident Richard Loverne has pushed for a public fishing pier — which neighboring Okaloosa and Bay counties offer their residents — to be built. Loverne went before the board again Tuesday to ask for a countywide vote to let residents decide if a fishing pier should be built.
Commissioners decided not to research Loverne's proposal or his request for a vote.
"You've got to have a substantial piece of property," said Vice Chairman Bill Chapman, who added there is no available space other than at state parks for the pier.
Board members agreed that there should not be a countywide vote before finding a feasible spot to build a pier.
Commissioners also discussed how to reduce pollution in the Choctawhatchee Bay from sources such as leaking septic tanks and stormwater runoff.
Commissioners discussed using $13 million available through the RESTORE Act to address problems.
"This money is not just one big chunk of money," said Svehla, who added that about $10 million would be spread over several years.
Commissioners said they were looking into additional ways to fund water improvements, and that current water analysis records would be necessary before they take action.
"I don't think there's any magic bullet out there," Commissioner Danny Glidewell said.
About five people also told the board of their concerns for the Gulf of Mexico's worsening condition.