Walton officials have $18 million deal to preserve beachfront

Walton County

SOUTH WALTON, Fla. (WMBB) — Walton County commissioners are considering an $18 million land deal to keep a section of the beach open to the public.

The property in question is three acres of beachfront land in the Eastern Lake area. Residents are worried if the county does not buy it, a private developer will.

After a four to five vote on Tuesday, 195 San Roy Road in the Eastern Lake Community went under contract with the county.

“[We] request to ratify the counter-offer with the stipulations stated,” County Commissioner for District One William “Boots” McCormick said.

The property will cost the county $18 million, a price tag that was a bit high for some commissioners.

“I’d love to see the county buy that property and preserve it, but at what price are we willing to do that? I know some say at any price, but when we deplete all of our money, that is a dangerous thing to do— not to protect some of these funds to be able to use on projects we’ve already purchased,” District 3 Commissioner Mike Barker said.

The contract allows the county to receive and review appraisals. If the appraisals are lower than the asking price, they can cancel the contract.

“And if you back out, what money you spent we are giving it back to you,” lawyer Gary Shipman said. 

“I believe a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case, it’s much more than that,” resident Ann Clifford said.

Many residents living around Eastern Lake told county commissioners to purchase this land because it will help preserve beachfront property.

“I have seen over the years, many many opportunities missed for the county to buy beachfront for the public use,” resident Bonnie McQuiston said.

Although a contract is on the table, the board can change its mind at any time until the end of the year. Walton County does not have any plans for the property.

As of right now, it will serve as public beach access and help preserve the nearby dune lake.

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