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Thread: South Walton TDC pursuing new visitor center site


  1. #51
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    I think that the perfect place for the Visitor's Center would be south of the bridge on the west side of 331. That way people going either east or west when they hit 98 wouldn't have to go in circles to leave the Visitor's Center. If it's placed at the intersection of 98 and 331, it will just bugger up the traffic that has gotten so much lighter now that this intersection has been redone.

    Are there any properties available or buildings for sale in the area I'm speaking of (south of the bridge on the west side of 331)? The ideal place would have been the location that Sandlecastle Escapes recently bought.

  2. #52
    It is official and I just need someone to second it — I am starting the TDC watchdog group !


    Amount of money they pull in? At a local 100-bed hotel in July last year they "grabbed" over $13,000 alone. Now think about adding the other hotels, homes and condos (ca-ching). With the use of technology and all the social media outlets today just how many tourists actually visit the TDC welcome center anyways? (Well, we know the TDC will inflate it. Maybe I need to stand outside one Saturday and count for myself). Is the new center being built for the tourist? I think not... It is being built because someone wants to leave his mark on our forest, and plain and simple someone just wants a big, big office to show off!


    TDC you want a new discovery or welcome center? I am all for it! Here are a few ideas that would increase your traffic and make much more sense.


    1. The strip mall at the old Shoo Mammas restaurant: It has turn lanes for you, is easily seen from 98 and has a lot of vacant spaces for you.


    2. The new Publix location: Again lots of empty units, plus an advantage for tourist because they come see you and then all in one trip grab some groceries and beer.


    3. The new Walmart: They have a nice little retention pond and you can build your welcome center on stilts, throw some gators in the water and BOOM instant attraction. The tourists will flock to you in record numbers.


    4. Grand Boulevard: The old Victoria’s Secret location. Again with some good PR and marketing they come see you and you offer them a V.S. gift card.


    5. Set a tent up on the beach.


    Why not build our children a park or better yet, I would so love a rec center with a workout room, a track, basketball and raquetball courts, a place to hold art classes etc.


    Or focus on music. Build us a nice outdoor music venue. We know you love music. After all, you paid Susanna Hoffs $75,000 for the worst song ever that nobody has heard of. Did I forget that we are blessed to have musicians the likes of Dread Clampitt, Forrest Williams and Kelsey Anna that live among us. I’m sure for $75,000 they could have put out a much better "local" song and nothing like giving money back to our community, right guys?


    Geez! Take care of the WCSO office, the SWFD, the lifeguards and mostly take care of us residents.


    TDC we really dont need you and we dont need you in our forest!

  3. #53
    Quote Originally Posted by tailwagger View Post
    it is official and i just need someone to second it — i am starting the tdc watchdog group !


    Amount of money they pull in? At a local 100-bed hotel in july last year they "grabbed" over $13,000 alone. Now think about adding the other hotels, homes and condos (ca-ching). With the use of technology and all the social media outlets today just how many tourists actually visit the tdc welcome center anyways? (well, we know the tdc will inflate it. Maybe i need to stand outside one saturday and count for myself). Is the new center being built for the tourist? I think not... It is being built because someone wants to leave his mark on our forest, and plain and simple someone just wants a big, big office to show off!


    Tdc you want a new discovery or welcome center? I am all for it! Here are a few ideas that would increase your traffic and make much more sense.


    1. The strip mall at the old shoo mammas restaurant: It has turn lanes for you, is easily seen from 98 and has a lot of vacant spaces for you.


    2. The new publix location: Again lots of empty units, plus an advantage for tourist because they come see you and then all in one trip grab some groceries and beer.


    3. The new walmart: They have a nice little retention pond and you can build your welcome center on stilts, throw some gators in the water and boom instant attraction. The tourists will flock to you in record numbers.


    4. Grand boulevard: The old victoria’s secret location. Again with some good pr and marketing they come see you and you offer them a v.s. Gift card.


    5. Set a tent up on the beach.


    Why not build our children a park or better yet, i would so love a rec center with a workout room, a track, basketball and raquetball courts, a place to hold art classes etc.


    Or focus on music. Build us a nice outdoor music venue. We know you love music. After all, you paid susanna hoffs $75,000 for the worst song ever that nobody has heard of. Did i forget that we are blessed to have musicians the likes of dread clampitt, forrest williams and kelsey anna that live among us. I’m sure for $75,000 they could have put out a much better "local" song and nothing like giving money back to our community, right guys?


    Geez! Take care of the wcso office, the swfd, the lifeguards and mostly take care of us residents.


    Tdc we really dont need you and we dont need you in our forest!
    I second that!
    Respect the Beach.

  4. #54
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    You have your "second".
    I think of government as the Mafia without the moral authority or predictability. Ron Hart

  5. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy A View Post
    You have your "second".
    Bravo. Isn't there a TDC advisory committee we should contact? Also there is an excellent planning and design suggestion in this letter to the Sun:

    I grew up in a country where everything was done under the table, where you spoke at a risk of being incarcerated or worse, and where those in charge thought they knew what was best for the people, but they didn't.


    Now I am here in the United States the pillar of democracy worldwide, and I am going to exercise my freedom of speech as a citizen, as a resident of Walton County, as a professional architect and a planner.


    Don't put a TDC Building at the end of 331 at the cost of the very image that makes our county special. To put a "nature preserve" on that site adds salt to the injury. To the mainstream planners this is a good solution, but good is not good enough for Walton County. Our county is know for what is great, what is creative and innovative. It is known for the environment and for the care of this environment. Walton County was green before green was made popular. Developers have to adhere to strict codes to protect our dunes, our beaches, our wetlands, our trees, our turtles, our habitat. Our developments like Seaside are known worldwide, and Rosemary, Alys Beach, WaterSound, WaterColor, and Gulf Place, among others, are known nationwide.


    So, if we want a new TDC center, we need to have a design that enhances our strengths and promotes our ideals. And this is the county that loves the environment.


    How do you do this? You allow the Point Washington State Forest alone. Let it end 331, but let’s design the 331 approach to emphasize our point of view. Start at the bridge by designing the Gateway to the Beaches of South Walton and continue by creating what would feel like a vehicular nature trail with strong edges planted with our longleaf pines mixed with palmettos and oaks and create a boulevard with the appropriate lighting. Minimize signage and entries to existing retail by making their private entries special, in keeping with the entire design intent and then, strongly emphasizing by opening this dense edge created with our native trees and foliage along the rest of the boulevard, to allow a beautiful entry to the New TDC on the side of this boulevard.


    The hierarchy is therefore established as follows, the pristine forest at the end of the boulevard, the TDC building that is subservient to the forest and the boulevard is subservient to the TDC building.


    This hierarchy is the hierarchy that fellow Walton County residents believe in. And our county buildings should always represent those beliefs.


    In my mind, if there is a structure that should end this axis. it should be a beautifully designed forestry tower that represents our Forestry Service's continual care for our beautiful environment.


    Thank you for listening.





    Lourdes Reynafarje


    Seagrove Beach
    Last edited by kurt; 04-27-2012 at 11:26 AM.
    Caroling, www.wholeo.net

  6. #56

    kiosk and/or smart phone

    Save our green! Money and trees! Use technology in a smart way :)

    When I even hear the suggestion a new TDC Building i think "follow the money"!

    If folks want nature I highly suggest the existing glory -Biophelia -Morrison springs -beaches state -parks etc-galleries-dining-etc etc

    Centralizing data and distributing such offers great rewards! For visitors and the visited!

    Technology not bricks and mortar
    :) offer great support! Kiosks can create and print visit agendas from a touchscreen mailed to your phone/iPad etc! I won't rant with my geek speak! Just know what how smart we cld be! Old school buildings are part of but not at all "the" solution!

    The two reception halls by 331 bridge?
    I'm guessing right price cld buy them if a new bldg was critical!

    I wld take sober strangers to drunk ones in our neighborhood around our kids anyday!!

    Just think saving trees that support our ecosystem is a must!

    Also what about all the property
    By courthouse/library? Has a walking path lots of land guessing county owns?

    Lots of creative ways to bring/sustain folks with a case of Walton love :)

  7. #57
    From Claire Bannerman:




    Some thoughts on the South Walton Tourist Development Council ruckus over creating a new building on State Park land:




    The mission statement of the Walton County TDC states that it is an industry organization that takes a “leadership” role in addressing “issues” that affect tourism and the “quality of life” in Walton County.




    Robert Davis and his team have succeeded in securing Seaside on a list of walkable communities. Seaside has grown into one of the most successful residential and tourist attractions in Walton County.




    Davis brought Dan Burden — the executive director of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, the nationally recognized authority on bicycle and pedestrian programs, friendly design, street corridor and intersection design, traffic flow and traffic calming — to our planning charrettes and forums. He enlightened us and guided us, reminding us of the amazing, fragile island environment in which we reside — and our need to protect it. I recall some of our county commissioners were present at these workshops.




    Decision-makers are visionary, communicative and forward-thinking. They listen and respond to the most engaged, involved and broad-minded residents. They build policies, practices and codes to make their towns pleasant — reinvesting in the town center, disinvesting in sprawl.
    We residents attended the charrettes and open forums to better our South Walton beaches, state parks and coastal dune lakes. We learned that towns and neighborhoods have a vision — master plans that provide direction, build ownership of residents, engage diverse people and create opportunities for implementation. A well-thought-out master plan gets past sticky issues and deals with the most fundamental, necessary decisions and commitments.




    We paid for Dr. Dan Burden to describe intact town centers with shops open for business a minimum of eight hours a day. County buildings would be downtown, the town hall in the town center, the library open for business at least 10 hours a day, a post office located downtown.
    Public spaces are all part of the master plan, giving people many places to assemble, play and associate with others. Key streets are controlled for speed. Streets and trails are well linked. Design is properly scaled. The town is designed for people. The town and neighborhoods have a vision.




    Over the years, we have participated vigorously in saving land for state parks, various town centers, Eden State Park, our unique coastal dune lakes, our bike trail and walk trails, and County 30A, our scenic highway. Local citizen groups, such as Beach to Bay, Peach Creek Alliance, Three Arts Alliance, Cultural Arts Alliance, Walton County Taxpayers, Friends of Eden, South Walton Community Council, etc., as well as individual resident leadership efforts, have safeguarded a vision for the beaches of South Walton.




    We have protected and kept watch over the world’s most beautiful beaches, reminding our Planning Department and our county commissioners every step of the way. So many nights our residents drove to DeFuniak Springs to attend county meetings so we could defend against developer invasions of our beaches and parks. We always asked for responsible development and business operations.




    Our county commissioners began to realize that engaging residents in practicing environmentally sound land management results in continued support and commitment. Public awareness, involvement and collaboration increase stewardship. Utilizing public support with government agencies can solve specific problems.




    We are aware that Walton County is increasingly dependent upon revenue from beach-going tourists and vacationers. Engaging residents to practice sound land management will result in a wonderful quality of life.




    The TDC needs to reflect on the master plan for South Walton and involve residents to solve specific problems that will make a positive change in our environment for the long term. We need all the state park land we can get; keep the TDC building in the town center. Review our goals to protect our beach environment from sprawl. Do not snag our parkland.




    Have the TDC Advisory Board ambassadors reconnect with the people and gain their input. Build the new TDC center on private land near the administrative center along State 331. To find it, simply put up a “wayfinding sign” on State 331. We, the people, have recommendations on our “quality of life” also.

  8. #58
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    Walton County BCC Meeting Today- TDC Discovery Center

    BCC meeting starts at 4, the TDC Discovery Center debacle is on the agenda today at 4:25. Should be a lively meeting- make your voice heard if you are able to attend! Meeting at the South Walton annex.


  9. #59
    I was at the last meeting. JDarg, let me know if the invocation goes the way it did last time.

  10. #60
    With a substantial outcry going up in the community over the Walton County Tourist Development Council's proposal to build a new Discovery Center on state forest land, the TDC director is speaking out about the need for action.

    More than one year ago, on April 27, 2011, the TDC hired an independent building consultant to assess the current 9,000-square-foot TDC building that sits at the intersection of U.S. Highway 98 and 331.

    The original structure was built in the mid-1990s on pilings above a water-retention pond on just over an acre of state property.

    The independent assessment turned up 16 deficiencies in the facility's air quality. It also revealed mold issues. Since the building rests over water, the mold issues will continuously be a challenge, said current TDC head Dawn Moliterno.

    "We don't meet code and it's a real issue," she said.

    Moliterno went on to explain that after several years of add-ons to the building and since the facility backs up to state wetlands, additional adjacent property can't be acquired. The solution she sees is to give the parcel back to the state and relocate across the road on 11.9 acres of state-owned property.

    "We looked at the Town Center as a possibility and the acreage was narrow and would be about the same size we have now and offer challenges," she said.

    And while some question the necessity of a visitor's center, Moliterno feels it is very significant to the area.

    "In our mission, you want people to stop at the center. It gives us the opportunity to provide meaningful brand impressions and create interaction with day trippers," she said.

    Moliterno said the center sees roughly 20,000 visitors per year, which she notes is less than the 50,000 reported by neighboring counties.

    "We outperform other counties in bed tax collection and that number should be higher," she said. "We want uniformity in that area and the assessment, done in three phases, evaluated the current site and looked at what the facility needs for the future to accomplish its mission and general concepts; not architectural designs. Right now, it's nothing more than concept based on needs-based on analysis."

    But that argument isn’t convincing everyone. Jeffrey Ellis was involved in the early years of the TDC’s formation and he doesn’t necessarily disagree with the chosen location, but “I do feel the TDC has lost track of its goals and focus.”

    “Why does our area not have a great community pool? Why do we not have signs telling people to yield for walkers in the crosswalks along 30A? All counties around us boast these things,” Ellis wrote on the Sun’s Facebook page. “I feel confident this group can do better for the people who pay and fund them — the visitors to our area…”

  11. #61
    The future of the TDC’s proposed Discovery Center will be discussed May 8 at 4 p.m. at the Board of County Commissioners meeting at the South Walton Courthouse Annex.

    This is an open meeting, with time set aside for the commissioners to listen to public input about the proposed project.

    At previous meetings, those who wish to preserve the plot of land in Point Washington State Forest spoke loudest. Their outcry has been answered by Dawn Moliterno, executive director of the TDC, who says a 1999 conservation settlement concerning the state forest does not bar the TDC from building within it.

    The settlement, agreed to by county and state officials, along with private citizens, was made when Walton County was given a 420-acre parcel of the conservation land on which to build what is now the Town Center. The county, in return for the land, signed an agreement stating they would support the use of all acreage within the conservation and recreation land boundaries to remain part of the Point Washington State Forest.

    The TDC looked into this when they started eyeing the parcel at the intersection of U.S. 98 and 331.

    “We immediately sought advice from our legal counsel,” said Moliterno. Of the three attorneys asked, “All three said that it did not have any impact to that particular parcel. That particular parcel was not in the settlement.”

    But some critics dispute that.

    “Even if, as the county now asserts, it is not legally binding, an assertion I dispute, it is nonetheless a moral commitment made by the commissioners recognizing the conservation goal of the Point Washington State Forest,” said Anita Page with the South Walton Community Council. “Commitments made by commissioners, regardless of whether they are legally binding, should be honored. Otherwise, trust in government is imperiled.”

  12. #62
    Is it just me or does the forest issue seem to be a lot of hullabaloo about nothing? Red Herring? The TDC knew there would be opposition for an expensive new center on state land. So, have a big meeting, say your sorry, say you won't build on public land, crowd tastes victory, expensive building gets built where they wanted it in the first place.

    So predictable.

  13. #63
    I also believe that if business wasn't so good then business owners would be lining up to support the TDC, but times are good so people feel like they don't need the TDC right now. Very shortsighted IMHO.

    ************************************************** *********************************

    "Two years ago the mood was different. Last year it was optimistic, and now the future is definitely bright," she said. "What people come here for is the pristine beaches and it is our No. 1 asset. The taxes generate $7 million in tax revenue. Tourism is an economic development tool that brings businesses here."

    Moliterno said March bed taxes were up 33 percent, a record for TDC for March. Air travel to the area is also up 19 percent and continues to grow and energize the market, she said.

  14. #64
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    I think local businesses are more realistic than most of us about the benefits of TDC projects and spending - especially since most TDC contracts and money go to companies outside our area.
    Basically, I'm just passing through on my way to Australia.

  15. #65
    Nice reasonable and sensible post from Chandra Hartman:

    From what I'm reading here, it sounds to me like the citizens of Walton County and the tourists who pay bed tax dollars could use a different approach to this contentious issue. Instead of fighting for the forest, we would be well served by finding an independent source who could do a cost benefit analysis of all the TDC operating expenses, generated bed tax dollars, and benefits back to the county. I think most people would agree that the TDC has played a beneficial role in the development of tourism in Walton County, though at what point does that investment not yield the desired return? Or what investments yield the greatest returns?


    Will a new facility strategically placed across the street with more square footage, and more employees, exponentially increase tourism dollars, quality of life for residents, and protection of our natural resources? Could that same money be spent smarter to achieve the same thing? Perhaps moving into an existing renovated structure and streamlining all operations with a strong focus on a web presence would be more beneficial than a new building.


    Anyone who has mad math skills and not connected to the TDC or BCC could do some back of the envelope figures to jump start the discussion. I think it would give a tremendous amount of insight to both sides to see those returns on investment, keeping in mind that the BP payout was (hopefully) a one time windfall.


    In addition, I think we all agree that increasing tourism is great for our local economy, but at some point in the future, we may want to rethink the balance between exponential tourism growth and economic, social and environmental benefits. I don't think we are there yet, but maybe in this discussion of return on investment, the citizens of Walton County may wish to reevaluate the role of the TDC.

  16. #66
    We all need to show up at the County Court House Annex today at 4pm to stop this waste of 5 million dollars of tax money to build a new large TDC "Discovery center" .

    This maybe the last chance you can stop the county from wasting 5 million dollars of tax money that could be better spent expanding and enhancing beach accesses.

    I have heard that the special interests that are to profit from this reckless waste of tax money are going to flood the place with their cronies.

    Just showing up will send the government a message!

  17. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by shellak View Post
    I was at the last meeting. JDarg, let me know if the invocation goes the way it did last time.
    Let me guess. A Christian prayer, right? Because having a Christian prayer at a government meeting is just so appropriate and necessary to getting the business done...but back to the matter at hand.

    This project needs to be tabled for now, and meaningful research and discovery need to be completed on the necessity of new offices for the TDC people, the usefulness of one central "discovery center" (blech- I hate it when people try to make a piece of crap idea sound good), and the economic impact of different options- the one put forth by the TDC AND the others put forth by others.

  18. #68
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    Oh come on, jim45. Your post makes too much sense and is too cogent to be acceptable to many, including some in the TDC leadership. I feel it is time to re-evaluate the scope and function of the TDC and possibly change its primary functions as they are seen now.
    I think of government as the Mafia without the moral authority or predictability. Ron Hart

  19. #69
    Quote Originally Posted by Andy A View Post
    Oh come on, jim45. Your post makes too much sense and is too cogent to be acceptable to many, including some in the TDC leadership. I feel it is time to re-evaluate the scope and function of the TDC and possibly change its primary functions as they are seen now.
    The post is from Chandra, but I agree with you.

  20. #70
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    12 acres south of 98 are voted out of consideration. See recent tweets from waltonsunmolly on the Walton Sun site.

    "Cecilia Jones made motion to deny TDC working terms for discovery center. Applause from the crowd. Passed."

    "BCC just denied the TDC's proposal for the multimillion dollar discovery center on state forest lands in response to recent public outcry."
    Last edited by jodiFL; 05-08-2012 at 05:17 PM.
    WARNING: Things posted by this user may offend some people. All things posted above are the opinions of poster and not necessarily the opinions of this site..or anyone else for that matter. They might not even make sense or be suitable for children. Come to think of it, they might be unsuitable for adults or human consumption. Have a nice day.

  21. #71
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    The Walton Sun is reporting through tweets:
    "Reporter Molly Mosher, who tweets under the name WaltonSunMolly, is at tonight's County Commission meeting. She tweets the following breaking news item "Met with applause: In light of a letter from Forestry Service, commissioners motioned, seconded Point Washington 12 acres is no longer a consideration."
    at the motion for the Discovery Center was denied. "

    FINALLY, the BCC is standing up to the TDC!

  22. #72
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    I think it's time to do away with the TDC. People come here for the beach and besides that vacationers don't know or care what county they are in. The TDC is a vehicle that serves only to waste money.

  23. #73
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    The TDC does a good job maintaining beach accesses and doing beach trash pickup. Everything else can go away.

  24. #74
    Quote Originally Posted by Annie66 View Post
    vacationers don't know or care what county they are in.
    Some would say that's exactly why you do need a TDC.

  25. #75
    The Walton Commissioners continued the discussion on the proposed new TDC Visitor’s Center. The Florida Forest Service submitted a letter of response. The Tourist Development Council Board made a recommendation to build a new Visitor’s Center that would also be a Discovery Center on Forest land south of the 331 and 98 intersection. This proposal has met with a lot of resistance from the public with many wanting to not take away from the Forest.


    The letter from the Florida Forestry Service says their goal is to protect and enhance the Point Washington State Forest. They say they will take any proposals from the county and consider it and forward it to the Florida Division of State Lands. The letter states the FFS wants the project to have the support of the local community.


    Commissioner Cecilia Jones made a motion to deny the TDC Council recommendation to proceed with swapping land with the Forest. She said the TDC Council did their job, did what was asked of them. The motion passed.

    Jones then made a motion to seek architectural design services so the process would start. Commissioners agreed they need to decide what kind of building they need and what land they need. Commissioner Larry Jones said they should allow the TDC Council to ponder what was discussed and either find a desirable piece of property and design a building to fit or decide what building is needed and find land to work with it.

    TDC Director Dawn Moliterno said there was a recommendation made based on information from an outside firm that identified the building and staff needs. The motion passed, but commissioners reconsidered it to clarify involving the public in the needs assessment process. Commissioner Brannon voted no, because he feels involving the TDC Council would allow the public to be more involved.


    Commissioners also agreed to bring in temporary buildings to make sure the current TDC building has some safety issues taken care of.

  26. #76
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    We don't need a TDC to waste money. The county commission can find more creative ways to do that.

  27. #77
    Andy, as usual, you're right on the money. Re-evaluation of the TDC top to bottom is in order and now.

  28. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim45 View Post

    Commissioners also agreed to bring in temporary buildings to make sure the current TDC building has some safety issues taken care of.
    Anybody know what are the safety issues?
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  29. #79
    Quote Originally Posted by buster View Post
    Anybody know what are the safety issues?
    Here you go...

    http://www.visitsouthwalton.org/info...-center-report

  30. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by BeachSiO2 View Post
    Dawn stated at the BCC meeting that those issues have been fixed.

  31. #81
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    People come down to go to the beach. Nobody 'visits' visitor centers. We don't need a visitor center and we don't need a TDC.

  32. #82

  33. #83
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    Since the TDC has so much money burning a hole in their pockets, may they could buy a yacht and call it a floating welcome center. And in the off season the politicians could use it to entertain their friends.

  34. #84
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    Maybe Dawn should apply for the TDC job in Okaloosa County now. She would fit right in as it seems they are very good at wasting taxpayers money.
    BEACH LOCAL

  35. #85
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    The bottom line is that we don't need new digs for the TDC. IMO we don't need a TDC. What happened to the grand Republican idea of smaller government? The TDC is a vehicle for the county to waste money.

  36. #86
    Quote Originally Posted by tsutcli View Post
    Maybe Dawn should apply for the TDC job in Okaloosa County now. She would fit right in as it seems they are very good at wasting taxpayers money.
    The TDC Advisory Council and the Walton County Board of County Commissioners is responsible for approving expenditures.

    Wasn't it the late Okaloosa TDC Director the one who was responsible for mismanagement?

  37. #87
    Quote Originally Posted by Annie66 View Post
    The bottom line is that we don't need new digs for the TDC. IMO we don't need a TDC. What happened to the grand Republican idea of smaller government? The TDC is a vehicle for the county to waste money.
    The current building is inadequate. Why "Republican idea"? If we have to be Republican isn't a a more important "Republican idea" - "you gotta spend money to make money"?

    If the TDC earns more than it spends (or at least equal), how is it wasting money? You can evaluate expenditures but unless you can gauge accurately return on investment how can you say it's wasted? Do you know what the return on a TDC ad in the Wall Street Journal is? Do you know what the return is on a new welcome center? None of the bed tax money is wasted because it has to be spent on getting people back in those same beds. The rest of Walton County does not get to spend or waste the money.

  38. #88
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    Can we actually quantify these returns?

    I would be very interested in seeing this, as every tourist I talk to finds the place by accident or word of mouth and the return on a welcome center is very pertinent to the current discussion.
    Basically, I'm just passing through on my way to Australia.

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    BCC/TDC Joint Meeting 6/11- Moving Forward with the "Discovery Center"?!?

    When we all left the May 8th, BCC meeting, it was the understanding of those attending that the TDC "Discovery Center" issue would be more or less ratcheted back to a real discovery of purpose and needs of the TDC, including the need for such a large building. Public workshops were supposed to be held. Below is the notice for Monday night's meeting, and it could be taken to mean that the BCC and TDC will be discussing and making decisions WITHOUT the public input that was promised at the May 8th meeting (see the minutes here http://www.co.walton.fl.us/archives/38/20120508.pdf).

    A lot of really great discussion and ideas have come out of the 'Discovery Center", ideas that may be a better fit for Walton County. Should the purpose of the TDC as it is today be discussed and maybe revamped? Should we be building a "destination" visitor's center, or have visitor information out in multiple places where visitors will actually see it? Should we look at the TDCs of other cities with successful tourism economies? Could it be rolled in with the Chamber? Should the TDC have more connection to the community? There are SO many questions and possibilities, so please be part of the process and attend this meeting!


    http://www.co.walton.fl.us/CivicAlerts.aspx?aid=385
    NOTICE of JOINT MEETING

    You are hereby notified that the Walton County Board of County Commissioners and the Tourist Development Council will hold a SPECIAL JOINT MEETING on Monday, June 11, 2012 beginning at 5:00 PM. The purpose of this Special Meeting is to discuss and take appropriate action regarding the TDC’s recommendation to go out for Request for Proposals or Qualifications for design/build of a new South Walton Discovery Center and new location site.
    The Meeting will be held at the Walton County Courthouse Annex located at 31 Coastal Centre Boulevard, Santa Rosa Beach, FL in the Commission Boardroom.
    In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, persons needing a special accommodation to participate in this proceeding should contact the Board of County Commissioners of Walton County no later than seven days prior to the proceeding at the address given in this notice or phone (850) 892-8155.

  40. #90
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    Okaloosa is getting ready to shutter theirs. 65 people shuffle through the place daily despite it being located at ground zero of Destin's Sodom and Gomorrah. Seems there was a totally underhanded financial deal that benefitted the good old boys of Okieloosey...that could never happen here, right?

  41. #91
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    Below is the response from Gerry Demers, Interim County Administrator, received by Goodwitch. Quite a few people had emailed the commissioners and BCC staff about the intent of this meeting. Personally, I received responses from Cecilia Jones and Sara Commander.

    Although it is apparently not a requirement to include a lot of details in a special meeting notice, lots of time, energy, and teeth gnashing can always be avoided with good information from the very beginning, not just when there is an uproar. I know the TDc is advertising to fill a "community relations" position. Does that position exist for the BCC?

    Looking forward to seeing everyone at the meeting!

    The main intent of the notice of public meeting was to let the public know the date, time, and place of the joint meeting between the BCC and the TDA Advisory Council as it relates to the recent request of the TDC council on space requirements. The BCC wanted an opportunity where they could openly discuss between boards what the need actually is and what is the best way to get there. I would see this joint meeting as only a starting place that may spur public workshops and from what I have heard from both the public and the Board, welcome public input. Although it is the BCC that will determine what action they take, I do not see Monday’s meeting as a point that final action will be taken, but rather a meeting where decisions will be made as to how to proceed. Most likely, any actions that the TDC recommends as a result of workshops and public input will have to come back to the BCC for approval. Monday’s meeting is simply a time for both boards to meet and discuss how to proceed.

    I would be happy to have you call me to discuss if this does not answer your concern.

    Thanks,

    Gerry A Demers

    Interim County Administrator

    Walton County, Florida
    Last edited by Jdarg; 06-07-2012 at 01:45 PM.

  42. #92
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    I can't help but wonder if some the commissioners' financial backers stand to make money on this white elephant?

  43. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricky bobby View Post
    I can't help but wonder if some the commissioners' financial backers stand to make money on this white elephant?
    Oh, get real! Quit seeing a goblin behind every action of ANY governmental office in this county. If you don't like what you're getting, run for office and change it!
    I think of government as the Mafia without the moral authority or predictability. Ron Hart

  44. #94
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    If the "action" comes with transparency then it is a true democracy. If the action comes about by any other means then we have an abuse of power. If we do not like what we are getting the solution is to vote those people out. We are not all politicians but we can be active in government by asking questions, giving our opinion from experience or preference and voting. The only way to prevent goblins is to look for goblins!

  45. #95
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy A View Post
    Oh, get real! Quit seeing a goblin behind every action of ANY governmental office in this county. If you don't like what you're getting, run for office and change it!
    Just because community members do not like/agree with what our elected (and unelected) representatives are doing does not mean we all need to run for office. But we do all need to watch and contribute.

  46. #96
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    I certainly understand that all elected official's should be watched as well as those who are unelected but in a position of authority. What I see here, and elsewhere much of the time, is griping and complaining with no apparent fact but lots of rumor. More importantly, no solution to actual existing problems, and yes, we do have them right here in Walton County. To act like every government employee, elected or unelected has his hand out under the table is ludicrious! But then what do I know. I only served as a state employee for 16 years and never knew anyone who was convicted of corruption or fraud. Maybe Florida has a different brand of people living here, and though I am not naive enough to think such things do not happen, I put more faith in my public servants than obviously many of you do.
    Last edited by Andy A; 06-10-2012 at 09:52 AM.
    I think of government as the Mafia without the moral authority or predictability. Ron Hart

  47. #97
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    You can bet your ass they will do whatever they want to do.

  48. #98
    From WZEP AM1460:
    Note - this is to go out tomorrow - the meeting is Monday, not today (sunday)

    Can the problems that happened with Okaloosa TDC happen in Walton? How is the new TDC Board doing and should the Walton TDC be placed under the County Administrator? With these questions and more, the Walton Commissioners and the Walton TDC are to meet at 5pm this afternoon for a joint session.


    Walton Commissioners and Walton County Tourist Development Council Director Dawn Moliterno say there is a difference in the way their counterparts in Okaloosa handle their TDC. But with recent changes and a lot of concerns, the commissioners asked for a joint meeting.


    Joint meetings have happened before, though not often. About 10 years ago the TDC Board and the commissioners met. The TDC Board stated a number of plans and changes they were putting into place. The commissioners informed them they do not have the authority and they are to work under the commissioners, not as a separate body. From that point on the TDC Directors have made regular visits to the commissioner meetings and have provided updates as well as recommendations.


    After questions about credit card usage and possible other finance checks that might be needed, the Walton County TDC has undergone a review including a financial audit and policy changes. With these in place, TDC Director Moliterno says what happened to their neighbor to the west can’t happen here. She also says they are working with Okaloosa to help them develop similar policies and checks.


    The County Administrator, County Attorney and TDC are each a position that reports directly to the commissioners. This was put into place over 10 years ago. The Commissioners hire and fire the three top positions. The TDC Board also helps with the management of the organization, but they serve as a recommendation board as far as the budget, capital improvements and strategic plan.


    The two boards are to meet this evening at 5pm at the South Walton Courthouse Annex.

  49. #99
    Quote Originally Posted by Andy A View Post
    Oh, get real! Quit seeing a goblin behind every action of ANY governmental office in this county. If you don't like what you're getting, run for office and change it!
    I agree Andy. For ricky bobby and others who have nothing at all to contribute and do nothing but make meaningless broad swipes - thanks for nothing!

  50. #100
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy A View Post
    Oh, get real! Quit seeing a goblin behind every action of ANY governmental office in this county. If you don't like what you're getting, run for office and change it!
    I really miss the "like" button.......
    "
    "If you are going to be stupid, you better be tough".
    Sunspotbaby

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