Walton County commissioners will soon revisit the idea of potentially purchasing the Golf Garden property in Miramar Beach after postponing the decision in December.
MIRAMAR BEACH — Next Tuesday could mark the end of a lengthy debate in Walton County.
With a commission meeting scheduled for Jan. 14, officials plan to revisit the issues surrounding the potential purchase of the Golf Garden property.
With a sale price of $11.75 million, commissioners voted in December against purchasing the 35 acres entirely with tourist development taxes. The decision came after a feasibility study, funded by the Walton County Tourist Development Council, found that the county's proposed plans to build a recreational complex or amphitheater wouldn't significantly benefit tourism. Instead, the issue was postponed yet again to try and find a way for the county to split the cost with the TDC.
For Ann Moore, a Miramar resident and board member for the South Walton Community Council, the purchase is a no-brainer.
“It's not that we feel other projects in the county aren't warranted ... Miramar Beach has just been overlooked with respects to recreational facilities and space in general,” Moore said. “(It's) at risk of being overdeveloped.”
In an independent study, the group found that the town makes up about 1% of Walton, but houses more than 55% of all South Walton rental properties.
It also found that more than $100 million in bed taxes, which fund the TDC, have been collected in Miramar over the last decade.
“The South Walton Community Council refers to Miramar Beach as the economic engine of Walton County,” Moore said. “More than half of the bed tax revenue collected throughout the county is generated by Miramar Beach.”
Denise Appezeller, a Miramar resident and member of the Coalition for a Better Miramar Beach, added that using the area for another commercial or residential development would only increase traffic in an already congested area.
She believes the investment would be a win-win for tourists and residents alike.
“It's the largest piece of land that's left in Miramar Beach and in this area in general,” Appezeller said. “Once that piece of land is gone ... (there will be) no large piece of green space left to Miramar.”
According to Louis Svehla, spokesman for the county, it's still up in the air if a final decision will be made Tuesday.
“There will be discussion and there could potentially be votes as well,” he wrote in an email. “That is not able to be known until the discussion is over.”
In the meantime, Moore and Appezeller, who urged the community to attend the meeting, said they were gearing up to present key points of the study to commissioners.
“It's a much needed addition to the community and Miramar Beach,” Moore said. “I think it's long overdue, and it seems like common sense for the county to purchase the Golf Garden property.”