It was decided Tuesday that Walton County will not purchase the entire Golf Garden property, but will instead look into purchasing only the northern 10 acres of the 35-acre parcel.
SANTA ROSA BEACH — Tuesday’s lively Walton County Commission meeting brought an end to the ongoing debate surrounding the potential purchase of the entire 35-acre Golf Garden tract on U.S. Highway 98 in Miramar Beach, but the potential county purchase of part of the property remains on the table.
JULY 2019 - Walton eyes Golf Gardens purchase
SEPT. 2019 - Golf Garden purchase up in the air
DEC. 2019 - Golf Garden purchase still pending
A failed super-majority commission vote on Tuesday scuttled plans for the purchase of the entire tract. However, the property owner agreed Tuesday to continue talking with the county about the government’s possible purchase of part of the Golf Garden property, a 10-acre section on the tract’s north side.
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Initially Tuesday, during the ultimately failed discussion of the purchase of the entire tract, Commissioner Danny Glidewell maneuvered a motion through the meeting calling for the county to split the $11.75 million cost of the entire tract between tourist development taxes, preservation funds and a loan.
That motion, however, failed to win a super-majority of commissioners’ votes, needed for the commission to purchase anything at a price over its appraised value.
During discussion of the proposed purchase of the entire tract, Commissioner Trey Nick noted, as he has previously, that it isn’t a good idea for the county to spend more for a property than its appraised value.
Commissioner Tony Anderson also opposed the purchase of the entire tract, saying he did so in order to keep the county from acquiring debt.
Glidewell disagreed with Nick and Anderson, saying he believed the county could find ways to split the cost and legally justify the purchase of the entire tract.
“This has been my project from the get-go, so I’ve got a warm, fuzzy feeling for it,” Glidewell said. But, he added, “I don’t have a warm, fuzzy feeling for borrowing the money when we don’t have to.”
According to information from the meeting, approximately $13 million in tourist development taxes could have been used to purchase the entire 35 acres.
Many area residents attended the meeting to voice their support for the county to purchase the Golf Garden tract.
For resident Jim Bagby, the investment represented an easy opportunity to make the county and Miramar Beach a better place.
“This decision will have an effect far beyond today and even this year,” he told commissioners. “It is about what you want the future of Walton County to look like. It’s not about a return on an investment ... or even a questionable appraisal."
During his comments, Bagby referenced the county seal, which hung behind commissioners and read “pride, preservation and conservation.”
Barbara Nelson, owner of a rental condominium in the nearby Seascape community, told commissioners that renters often ask if there are nearby recreation or nature areas. A county purchase of the Golf Garden property was an opportunity to provide that amenity, she said.
“People are very aware of the environment and they’re looking for something like that,” she said. “They come for the beach, but they don’t go to the beach every day.”
Following the failed super-majority vote, the property owner agreed to work with the county on another proposed purchase contract for the purchase of the northern 10 acres of Golf Garden for $2.75 million.
Commissioners plan to continue that discussion in future meetings, with the county performing additional appraisals on the proposed 10-acre area under consideration.