Miramar regional beach access could have more parking

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DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — Walton County Commissioners decided to move forward on Tuesday with the $5.5 million purchase of nearly 5 acres of land on the south side of US Highway 98 between Professional Place and Ellis Road in Miramar Beach.

The property, which is to be purchased with Walton County Tourism Development Board revenue from a 5% ‘bed tax’ charged to visitors staying in accommodations at the south end of the county, is currently being considered as a parking area for access to nearby Miramar regional beach. on Scenic Gulf Drive.

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The access parking lot and overflow parking lot on Scenic Gulf Drive are regularly crowded with vehicles during tourist season. The US 98 tract is easily accessible on foot or by shuttle to and from beach access.

The property was originally offered as a $5.695million purchase, but in informal negotiations with the commissioners on Tuesday, one of the owners, local real estate attorney Mike Mead, agreed to a price of $5.5million .

Some work to finalize the deal remains to be done, according to developments at Tuesday’s meeting.

Commissioners also voted Tuesday to proceed with another property purchase, a $3 million deal for land on U.S. Highway 90 just outside the western boundary of DeFuniak Springs. The plot, which includes a warehouse, is adjacent to the county’s Department of Public Works headquarters and would allow for expansion of the department.

A final purchase decision, with money from the county’s reserve fund, depends on the results of a public hearing on a required budget amendment scheduled for Aug. 24.

In other business on Tuesday, commissioners received an update from Tony Cornman, director of the county’s code compliance department, on cleanup efforts in the Oakwood Hills community north of U.S. 90 between Boy Scout Road and New Harmony Road west of DeFuniak Springs.

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The area, a mix of rental housing and owner-occupied properties, has been plagued by litter and other sanitation issues. Problems have included household furniture, refrigerators and other items left on lawns under the mistaken impression that these items are picked up as part of a garbage collection service, as well as grass and vegetation that has been left to grow and create a potential fire hazard. .

Earlier this year, buoyed by the earlier success of cleaning up Villa Tasso under similar circumstances, the county focused its attention on Oakwood Hills. Like Villa Tasso, the county has installed dumpsters throughout the community, giving residents and homeowners a chance to clean up their properties before code compliance kicks off enforcement efforts.

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On Tuesday, Cornman told commissioners that so far, 40 of the 60 properties identified as problematic during the first phase of resolving issues had been voluntarily brought into compliance with county codes.

A number of cases have been brought before a special county magistrate for hearings, Cornman added, and some fines have been imposed.

A second phase of code enforcement in Oakwood Hills is expected to conclude this month, Cornman said, with a third and final phase of focus on resolving code violations likely to be concluded early next year. .

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