By Deborah Wheeler | 315-4432 | @WaltonSunDeb | firstname.lastname@example.org
Walton County Commissioners have whittled the search for property to purchase in order to increase public beach access and parking down to six finalists.
During Tuesday's special meeting, Tourist Development Council head Jay Tusa presented 54 parcels to the Board of County Commissioners. However, Tusa recommended only six of the parcels, as most of the other properties were not beachfront.
Tusa said the Dune Allen area already is saturated and if more access was added, it may change the look of Dune Allen forever. He did however present one at Fort Panic, which is in the Dune Allen area.
The six properties include:
- Beginning on the west end, Tusa recommended a parcel offered for $1.8 million in Miramar Beach that could accommodate 40-45 parking spaces. The piece is in a Tier 2 Beach Mouse Zone, which he said should not present any problems.
- Tusa spoke favorably of combining two parcels at Fort Panic and the Oyster Lake outfall that he described as attractive and would allow the county to have control of the outfall. The total cost would be $6.5 million.
- Located in close proximity to Ed Walline Park is Highlands House Bed and Breakfast. Tusa recommended doing a title search and appraisal on that one.
"I would like to move forward to next phase with this one," he said. "We could put in restrooms and 50 parking spaces. Having something not too far from Ed Walline might be a good idea, as its lot stays full."
- Farther east, in Seagrove Beach across from CafÃ© Thirty-A and a half-mile from the Santa Clara access, is a site that would allow 36-40 parking spaces and restrooms. It consists of three parcels offering 320 feet of open beach for $1.59 million.
- At Eastern Lake is a neighborhood beach access that Tusa said is nice and would allow for 12 parking spaces and restrooms.
"We could provide for golf-cart parking and get more spaces," he said. "People use it for a neighborhood access."
- A larger regional beach access has been discussed for Beachfront Trail at Walton Dunes.
"We have looked at putting in multi-use paths there," he said.
However, that one is classified as a Tier 1 for the beach mouse and approval for a beach access could take up to two years.
"But, it's adding to something we already own. I think we should utilize what we have," he said.
That parcel would accommodate 15-20 parking spaces, and possibly more.
"Everything we are recommending has room for restrooms and parking," Tusa said.
Commissioners agreed to move forward with title searches for the six properties.