The city council of Fort Walton Beach, Florida, approved a resolution to support Okaloosa County’s application for a grant to help build a facility to promote agriculture and provide education in the area. These programs are currently housed in the county’s south-area extension office, but the new facility could soon provide master gardener classes, plant clinics and greenery sales. The land earmarked for the facility is owned by the county.
If approved, the facility would be under the management of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and its Okaloosa County Extension Service. In the past, the service located its activities at a city-owned facility leased for $1 annually. However, the office is located in a flood zone, has a leaky roof and has flooded twice in the past. In addition, the county said that it has run out of space for event guests.
With the resolution of support obtained from the city, county officials will apply to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for an $850,000 grant to develop the building. These funds would pay for a 2,800-square foot facility including meeting space for 90 people, a kitchen for nutrition and cooking classes, a restroom for visitors and a plant diagnostic lab. The county is required by state law to provide at least 40 percent of the resources for the building’s construction. According to county officials, the labor of county staff and the value of the land will be used to constitute the matching funds.
When county officials receive the funds to construct the building, they will seek out contractors, architects and others to finalize the process. With such a major project at stake, disputes could arise over construction issues, missed deadlines or defective work. A construction law attorney may work with contractors and construction companies to resolve disputes favorably.