County officials ask for input on roadway improvements during Old Seagrove community meeting

Special to Gannett

District 5 Commissioner Tony Anderson and representatives from the Walton County Public Works Department held a community meeting Oct. 19 at the Walton County Courthouse Annex in Santa Rosa Beach to discuss roadway and drainage improvements within the Old Seagrove Community.

Topics included the level of improvements that were warranted in the area and, more specifically, wanted by residents, the idea of transitioning some streets to one-way traffic, as well as a discussion on the type of material that could be used for upgrades and a potential cost-sharing opportunity between the county and residents in the community through a Municipal Service Benefit Unit (MSBU), a non-ad valorem assessment district established to provide for funding for improvements in a specific geographic area within the county.

District 5 Commissioner Tony Anderson address the crowd during an Oct. 19 meeting at the Walton County Courthouse Annex in Santa Rosa Beach to discuss roadway improvements in Old Seagrove.

The roadways identified for potential enhancements were Cypress Hill Road, Dogwood Street, Thyme Street, Hickory Street, Live Oak Street, Nightcap Street, Holly Street, Camellia Street, Gardenia Street, East and West Grove Avenue, Forest Street and Canal Street.

But, most importantly, it was an opportunity for county officials to listen.

“What we’re really interested in hearing is what you all think,” said Chance Powell, P.E., Walton County traffic engineer, adding that any improvements to the area are going to call for compromises.

Powell told the audience of 52 attendees, with more than 60 participants on Zoom, that the county has identified approximately $300,000 to design improvements for these roadways in 2022.

Part of the challenge, Powell said, is that most of the roadways in Old Seagrove only have 40 feet of right-of-way, which is narrow when compared to other roads in the county that have at least 50 feet of right-of-way. He also noted that utilities are buried beneath the roads, which presents its own unique challenges.

Any improvements would be done within the existing footprint of the roadways except for a stretch of Dogwood Street (between Forest and Canal Streets) where the road goes outside of the existing right of way.

The goal would also be for work to be done during the slower season or potentially done in phases.

No matter what type of improvements are decided on, Powell said the county not only wants to improve the existing roadways and drainage but also ensure that they maintain the character and vegetation Old Seagrove is known for.

Tuesday’s meeting was just one part of the initial dialogue as the county looks to move forward. As additional options and potential solutions are vetted, there will be more meetings scheduled and information shared on the county’s website.