On Tuesday, commissioners voted 4-1 to move forward in a contract to purchase the Golf Garden property for $11.75 million. Since TDC money would be used, a feasibility study must be done to determine if the addition would benefit tourists.

DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — Walton County officials are game to give residents a new amenity, but say it also has to be for tourists.

County commissioners voted 4-1 Tuesday to move forward with a contract to purchase The Golf Garden property for $11.75 million — but with one stipulation.

Since it was previously decided that the 35-acre parcel in Miramar Beach would be bought with Tourist Development Council funds, a feasibility study must be done to determine if the investment would benefit tourists. If not, bed tax money cannot be used and the county can bail on the contract.

"There's basically an out clause," county spokesman Louis Svehla said.

Although the property would be "based in tourism," Svehla was confident that it would still be something residents could enjoy.

"Nothing's ever 100% for tourists," he said.

For Tracy Hook, who lives on Walton Way, the decision to move forward with the purchase has been a long time coming.

She believes that with all the ongoing developments, a large public-use area would help preserve South Walton for future generations.

"This has made us feel like you do realize that we are living there in Miramar Beach," Hook told commissioners Tuesday. "A lot of community residents want to have a more sustainable future for Miramar Beach."

For others, the property would be "great" for the county but is simply "over priced."

"It doesn't meet our appraised value," said Commissioner Trey Nick, who cast the lone opposing vote.

He repeated his stance that it's never a good idea to pay more for something than its appraised value. Previous county appraisals listed the parcel for more than $1 million less than the agreed-upon price.

According to Svehla, a public workshop will be held at the Hyatt Place Sandestin at Grand Boulevard at 2 p.m. Oct. 1, when the results of the feasibility study will be presented.

Commissioners will make a decision on the purchase before the contract's closing date, which is in mid-December, he added. 

"There's at least one more vote," Svehla said.