Walton to buy piece of Golf Garden, build connector road
MIRAMAR BEACH — While it might not be the deal residents originally had in mind, Walton County will purchase the northern 10 acres of the Golf Garden property for $2.7 million.
The decision came two weeks after commissioners voted against buying the entire 35-acre area in Miramar Beach — largely based on concerns that it might not be a lawful use of tourist development taxes.
“I know we wanted more, but beggars can’t be choosers,” Laurie Echols told the board Tuesday. “I’m thankful that for once in a very long time, y’all actually did come forward and support your citizens instead of supporting your tourists.”
In addition to the purchase, commissioners approved the construction of a connector road between Walton Way and U.S. Highway 98.
This stemmed from a requirement placed on the county by the Florida Department of Transportation that a traffic light can’t be built at the intersection of Driftwood Road and U.S. 98 unless the connection is made.
Echols hoped the road would also act as the entrance into whatever commissioners eventually decide to put on the 10-acre property.
According to Louis Svehla, spokesman for the county, funding for the road will be split between Walton and the current property owner.
“They are going to be responsible for the road from 98 up to where our property starts,” he said. “And then we’re going to be responsible for funding whatever that is from there to that end of Walton Way.”
Along with the purchase agreement, commissioners voted to enter into a temporary lease with the current property owner. It will last up to one year, can be ended with a 30-day notice and requires the owner to pay $1,000 a month to continue any golf course operations that lie within the soon-to-be-county-owned 10 acres.
This will give commissioners time to figure out what to do with the property, Commission Chair Bill Chapman said. It will also help those employed by the Golf Gardens keep their jobs for a bit longer.
“By the time you have three to five hearings for the public, you’re looking at months down the road,” Chapman said. “This is just getting something while we’re working through this.”