New sales pitch needed for latest courthouse location

When the proposed location for a new county courthouse was rejected by voters last year, it failed despite a core of support from downtown Milton and unanimity among the Santa Rosa commissioners who proposed it.

The latest prospective site has neither.

“I’m disappointed,” Milton City Council Member Alan Lowery told this newspaper Thursday after a 3-2 vote by the county commission recommending a 13- to 19-acre site for sale on Avalon Boulevard near Mulat Road.

The commission authorized an initial offer of $850,000 for the site, which carried a price tag in the range of $1 million to $1.2 million.

Veteran political consultant Travis Peterson—who works for Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward and for Quint Studer, the area’s highest profile development entrepreneur—said the new proposed location faces an uphill battle to win voter support for its most likely funding source: an additional half-cent local option sales tax.

“If the election of Donald Trump has taught us anything, it’s that conservative voters like those in Santa Rosa County aren’t generally enamored of government,” Peterson said in an interview. “So starting out with a split vote (among commissioners), it’s going to be difficult to win a majority of voters for this.”

Lowery said his choice among the five finalist locations being discussed by commissioners is a six-acre parcel off Pine Forest Road near the county’s Public Works Department office. That spot was recommended by District 5’s Lane Lynchard, who with Rob Williamson of District 4 voted against the Avalon-Mulat spot.

More information will be available in the July 20 issue of Navarre Press. Subscribe online at navarrepress.com for as little as $38 per year.

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