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South Walton TDC pursuing new visitor center site

Discussion in 'Local Government and Groups' started by kurt, Oct 3, 2011.

  1. kurt

    kurt Admin Staff Member

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    http://defuniakherald.com/?p=4073

    By DOTTY NIST

    South Walton Tourist Development Council (TDC) Executive Director Dawn Moliterno provided a report on Sept. 13 to county commissioners on plans for a new site for the TDC office and on other tourism-related matters.

    The information was provided at the Sept. 13 Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) regular meeting at the South Walton Courthouse Annex.

    Moliterno told the commissioners that the 2011 tourist season had been the best on record for Walton County and that all the TDC’s strategic plan objectives for the 2010-11 fiscal year had been accomplished.

    A building analysis focusing on space needs for the organization had resulted in a decision by the TDC members to pursue a site on the south side of the U.S. 331/U.S. 98 intersection, on Florida Forest Service property, for a new TDC visitor information/welcome center and new TDC offices. With authorization by the BCC, Moliterno had submitted a request to the forest service for acquisition of the site.

    Moliterno said a six-month process would be required for the acquisition and that public hearings would be part of that process. Construction costs for the new building were reported as $4.5 million exclusive of land acquisition expenses. Moliterno said the funds would come from the TDC’s reserve account, which currently contains $10 million and will soon be increased by $1.5 million from BP. The cost estimate does not include expenditures to return the current building site, which is under lease from the forest service, to its predevelopment condition per lease requirements.

    Moliterno also reported that TDC members had decided against pursuing a south Walton County sports complex after reviewing a feasibility study on the possibility. Construction cost for the facility had been estimated at $13.5 million for an outdoor facility, with insufficient demand deemed to exist at this time for an indoor component. An annual subsidy of $378,000 to $431,000 per year was determined to be required for the facility on the part of the TDC, Moliterno explained.

    Moliterno added that all the TDC’s blue signs, including the ones around the visitor center and offices would be coming down to be repainted in “that beautiful bronze color that everyone likes.” This is the color that was recently used for repainting of the TDC’s wayfinding signs along CR-30A. The new “South Walton” cursive-letter logo will also replace the previous “Beaches of South Walton” logo and red and white umbrellas on the signs.

    FLOOR-PLAN-9-2-2011.jpg

    Master-Site-Plan---09-2-2011.jpg
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2012
  2. whatiscmr

    whatiscmr Beach Lover

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    The information in this write up, about the analysis, is vague at best. I can't tell from this if a new building is necessary. Hopefully someone posts some details.
     
  3. kurt

    kurt Admin Staff Member

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    The claim is that a new location is necessary because the current visitor's center got "landlocked" when the highway was 4-laned. In other words there is no turn lane unless you do a left turn at the light then a U-turn, or if you are headed out of town. Also they are running out of office space.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2012
  4. scooterbug44

    scooterbug44 SoWal Expert

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    I think a visitor center that can actually be "visited" by those entering town is a great idea. :roll:

    Question this location and the cost - IMO the best spot would be south of the bridge on the west side of 331 near the annex.

    Why do we need to use forest when there are vacant commercial lots lining 331?
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2011
  5. kurt

    kurt Admin Staff Member

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    The idea is to have an area for folks to stop and stretch, walk a nature trail, walk the dog, learn about local flora and fauna, see live alligators, etc. Keep in mind that many people coming into town have to kill time before their rental is available. This site would allow have access just as easy as the west side of 331 and easy egress in either direction.

    Just kidding about the live alligators but it was joked that would really bring folks in if you had them and/or a water park on site.

    Apparently, the forest would be cleared somewhere anyhow for a forest service facility. Instead they will get office space in the visitors' center,giving an opportunity to teach visitors about our forest resources, management and protection.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2012
  6. whatiscmr

    whatiscmr Beach Lover

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    I see. That intersection is a pain in the butox. The way you describe the new place sounds nice. There really isn't any thing else around here like that. Kind of a rest stop/nature area. Cool
     
  7. scooterbug44

    scooterbug44 SoWal Expert

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    I definitely think we are long overdue for a nice welcome center/rest area, but IMO there are a couple kinks to get worked out in this plan.

    I think the photo area, the dog area, restrooms, and the picnic area are great things to have and will get used a lot.

    But paving 5 acres of the state forest for a facility that is going to have many of the same activities and functions that we already have and that are not being fully utilized or that are being closed due to funding cuts seems crazy. A couple offices for the Forest Service would not need 5 acres so I don't find it an even trade.

    Also don't see why we couldn't have all the offices/administration on the 2nd floor to reduce the size of the building's footprint.

    Supporting, improving, promoting, and maintaining the existing facilities would be far better than building more redundant ones.
     
  8. kurt

    kurt Admin Staff Member

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    I'm sure the designs will lean toward a southern-style architecture but wouldn't it be cool to also be modern, green, and high tech? Maybe our proposed new solar energy factory can supply some low-cost panels.


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  9. scooterbug44

    scooterbug44 SoWal Expert

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    That is a great idea - they should do a LEED certified building with a community garden on the roof!
     
  10. kurt

    kurt Admin Staff Member

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    How about native wildflowers?
     
  11. scooterbug44

    scooterbug44 SoWal Expert

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    I was thinking a garden so the local schoolkids could grow food for the schools and various charities.
     
  12. buster

    buster Beach Fanatic

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    A 2,000 seat theater would be nice.
     
  13. Miss Kitty

    Miss Kitty Meow

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    I've been coming down to the area since 1986 and have never been to the TDC visitor site. :misskitty:
     
  14. scooterbug44

    scooterbug44 SoWal Expert

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    I only go there to use the restroom when I am carpooling from the 331 annex on the weekends.
     
  15. Em

    Em Beach Fanatic

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    There's nothing like mowing the roof.
     
  16. 30A Skunkape

    30A Skunkape Mr. Small Box

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    Scooty, I made a point of looking at the site Sunday, and if it is where I think it will be, it is already kind of desolate anyway. The layout looks like it will have a fair amount of greenspace. At first I was in the 'why do we need this' camp, but it looks like it will be a nice multi-use campus. Kurt is right, getting into the current facility is a pain-I know this from trying to get to the Tom Thumb across the street-there is no logical way to do this if you are heading east on 98.
     
  17. Mango

    Mango SoWal Insider

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    Does the TDC post signs along heavily traveled roads now? I have never seen one and I have come in different ways to the beach. They do this in Massachusetts and the visitors centers get lots of use, especially if they have rest rooms and someone on staff to answer questions. They also have lots of brochures, maps, restaurant information, etc. Some of the larger ones have grills and picnic areas.
     
  18. MrMentalFitness

    MrMentalFitness Beach Fanatic

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    I've been to the Visitor's Center a bunch of time, for no other reason that it's just nice to talk to the great folks who work there. Never know what neat tidbit you'll pick up during the conversation.
     
  19. scooterbug44

    scooterbug44 SoWal Expert

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    I definitely think we need a new visitor center - just like to quibble about the details and make crazy suggestions. Am serious about it being LEED or at least having solar panels though.

    Murray - you don't mow the roof, you plant stuff that doesn't need mowing!
     
  20. kurt

    kurt Admin Staff Member

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    I want to hear people's ideas.
     

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