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.