New museum building coming to Downtown FWB

To: Daily Rundown Readers


Okaloosa County 2022 Community Survey opens to all residents

Okaloosa Public Information Office

Earlier this week, Okaloosa County announced that the comprehensive quality of life survey, previously offered to randomly selected residents living in unincorporated areas of the county, is now open to all residents living in Okaloosa County.

According to a press release from the county, if residents received a mailed survey invitation, they ask that you please respond via that survey link instead of the open participation survey.  For those who have already responded to that survey, they ask that you do not participate in this one as well, as the survey questions are identical.

“We are excited to be conducting this survey,” says Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners Chairman Mel Ponder. “This survey will help Okaloosa County staff and board identify priorities for the community and improve the quality of life in Okaloosa County.”

The survey instrument, known as The National Community Survey™, allows the County to compare results and benchmark residents’ opinions against other communities across the country. The survey will include questions about quality of life, important characteristics of community, services provided by Okaloosa County and priorities for the future.

  • The survey will not ask for any personally identifiable information and all responses will remain anonymous, according to the county. The survey will be available online in English and Spanish.

NOTE: The City of Destin is engaging residents in a POLCO survey, available at, not to be confused with the Okaloosa County Community Engagement Survey found at


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A few things to do around town this weekend

November 4, 2022 – Locals On The Harbor | Free Keg – View

November 4-5, 2022 – The Boardwalk Country Music Festival – Free – View

November 4, 2022 – Sip N’ Stroll Gallery Night at J.Leon Gallery –  View

November 4, 2022 – Musician Marc Black to Perform November 4th – Free – View

November 4, 2022 – Tribute Concert Weekend at The Village of Baytowne Wharf – Free – View

November 5, 2022 – Step One Automotive Hosts the Saving with Soul Adoption Event – Free – View

November 5, 2022 – HOLIDAY Open Air Art Day at Artful Things Niceville – Free – View

November 5, 2022 – HH Arts Gallery Night – View

November 5, 2022 – Downtown FWB Art Walk sponsored by Artesano Boutique! – – View

November 5-6, 2022 – Tribute Concert Weekend at The Village of Baytowne Wharf – Free – View

Looking ahead

November 8, 2022 – Crust Artisan Bakery Fundraiser Dinner – $250 – View

November 11, 2022 – Ireland Family Wines Walk Around Tasting at Primrose – $60.00 – View

November 12-13, 2022 – Really Rad Weekend – View

November 12, 2022 – Band Together for Autism – $35 – View

November 12, 2022 – Murder on a Ghost Walk – Fundraiser – $75 – View

November 12, 2022 – Ireland Family Wines Dinner at Primrose – $150.00 – View


City of Fort Walton Beach to resurface basketball, tennis courts

On Tuesday, the Fort Walton Beach City Council approved the resurfacing of several sport courts throughout city parks. The resurfacing includes:

  • FWB Tennis Center – Courts #8-11
  • Ferry Park Basketball Court
  • Cecelia Park Basketball Court

According to interim City Manager Jeff Peters, the Ferry Park basketball court is in desperate need of replacement and will be a welcomed repair at the popular park.

“We will also stripe it with the basketball court lines and we have two brand new goals that will be installed,” he said. “We are hoping that will all be done in the next six weeks or so.”

The cost to resurface the Basketball court at Ferry Park is $8,000.

As for the tennis courts, the City has a contract with USTA for the operation of the FWB Tennis Center and is responsible for resurfacing tennis courts when needed.

  • Courts #8-11 will be repaired. The total cost for the repairs and resurfacing project at the Fort Walton Beach Tennis Center is $26,760

The final resurfacing is at Cecilia Park. This is the location of the new All-Inclusive handicap playground that has recently been installed and getting ready for a grand opening. This basketball court can be utilized for a variation of handicap court sports.

  • The cost to resurface the basketball court at Cecelia Park is $7,500.

The resurfacing projects have done wonders for various parks throughout the city

“The Jet Drive & Holmes Boulevard Park is a great example of a successful resurfacing project,” added Peters. “That park got very little use as it was two tennis courts and an old asphalt basketball court with old goals. We put in new goals, resurfaced everything, and then turn the two tennis courts into pickleball courts. Now, there’s 200-300 people playing throughout the entire day as opposed to the two to four that used to play tennis.”

Last August, Ferry Park’s tennis courts also received some much-needed TLC after hollow spots were identified by the city’s resurfacing contractor. 

In total last year, the Ferry Park Tennis Complex project included:

  • Removal and replacement fencing.
  • Milling of the entire court surface and replacement with 1-½” asphalt.
  • Resurfacing of the tennis court area.
  • Replacement of tennis posts and nets.

“The Ferry Park tennis courts weren’t awful, but they definitely needed to be resurfaced,” added Peters. “When it was done and opened up, they looked like brand new courts.”

Peters is shooting for the entire sport court resurfacing project to be completed by the end of the year.


The old Bluewater Zoo building to be demolished, replaced with new museum in Downtown Fort Walton Beach

The existing Bluewater Zoo building in Downtown Fort Walton Beach, Florida (Get The Coast)

On Tuesday, the Fort Walton Beach City Council approved the demolition bid for the old Bluewater Zoo building and public restrooms in downtown Fort Walton Beach. 

  • The property is located at 159 Miracle Strip Parkway SE and is adjacent to the City’s Indian Temple Mound Museum site.

Back in May 2020, the Fort Walton Beach City Council accepted the donation of the Bluewater Zoo building and property from the Chris Gibson estate. The building was to be used as the new Heritage Park & Cultural Center gift shop and office space.

Gibson served two terms as a Fort Walton Beach City Council Woman and was a long-time benefactor of the Heritage Park and Cultural Center. She was a Charter Member of the Friends of the Museum and served on its Board of Directors for many years. 

  • She was active in archaeological interests in Fort Walton Beach and worked to preserve the local history. 
  • She passed away in 2017.

“They had a vision of connecting the Bluewater Zoo building to the museum and it would become the gift store,” said interim City Manager Jeff Peters. “Over the years, the building has gotten worse and worse.”

After a thorough evaluation of the building, it was determined that the cost to renovate outweighed the overall value of the building. City staff contacted the Gibson family to discuss demolition of the building rather than renovating it. Both parties were in agreement that it would be best to demolish the building and build a new addition.

As part of the agreement between both parties, the city had to show that they had a funding source to build the addition before they could tear it down.

As part of the City’s 12.5% allocation for FY 2022-23 from the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council, $390,000 was included for the demolition and construction of a new 4,800 sqft. museum gift shop and office building.

  • The overall project amount is $800,000. 
  • The balance of the project cost will be funded through the City’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Fund.

“The plan is to demolish that building along with the old bathrooms and build a nice two-story museum addition that will be the entrance into that facility,” said Peters. “It will be beautiful when it’s done.”

  • The addition will include a large lobby area, gift shop, public restroom, classroom area and office space.
City of Ft. Walton Beach Heritage Park and Cultural Center Museum Store (Rendering by JDF Architecture)

The Heritage Park and Cultural Center Museum has remained a popular tourist destination, as well as a field trip opportunity for local schools. Last year was a milestone for Heritage Park, as they brought in $102,000 in revenue. Their previous best was $92,900.

  • As for the museum’s gift store, the previous best was $49,300 in revenue.  In 2021-22, they made $51,150.

“You are probably thinking that is a small achievement in the big picture of the City of Fort Walton Beach, but remember their admission is $5.00 and the most expensive thing in the Museum Store is $350.00,” said Gail Meyer, Museum Manager for the city. “That is a ton of $1, $2 and $5 dollar items!”

Meyer says that she and her team are looking forward to what a new store with a Highway 98 presence will be capable of bringing to the Downtown District.

The City hopes to have the building demolished by the end of the year with construction on the new building beginning mid-2023.

OK, that’s all I have for you this morning! I hope you have a great Thursday!

p.s. What did you think of this morning’s newsletter? Hit the reply button and let me know!

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