DFS Tree Board discusses dog park, train trestle, bat houses, and community garden


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Mar 23, 2023

DFS Tree Board discusses dog park, train trestle, bat houses, and community garden

June 7, 2023QuintonNews By RUBY KEARCE The DeFuniak Springs City Beautification

June 7, 2023QuintonNews


The DeFuniak Springs City Beautification & Tree Board held its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, June 1. Board Chair Kim Wennerberg announced that the dog park and the board's desired location was brought before DeFuniak Springs’ City Council, as well as the request for permission to have the land surveyed. The council agreed to having the land surveyed as well as informing Wennerberg of another lot located between the proposed new dog park and the armory that can serve as the town's new lay down lot. Once the survey is complete the board will then seek funding and start the discussion of design.

The board then moved on to discuss the survey being created for community input on the renovation of the amphitheater. Wennerberg has met with DeFuniak Springs council members and local architect/council member Anthony Vallee regarding this, and the first question is grass or concrete seating.

Wennerberg asked the other board members if they would rather see real or synthetic grass in the seating area. Board Member Tony Brunson stated that he would rather see synthetic versus real for the simple reason that real grass is major upkeep, and whatever is laid in that area will also need to be able to handle heavy traffic. The preferred stage cover is another question, with designs ranging from modern to more a more open option where the lake is visible. The last question was regarding the preferred audience cover with different canopy, tree, and fabric options.

Wennerberg suggested that since this project is more in line with visitors rather than locals there is a possibility that this project could be fully funded by Walton County's Tourist Development Council. The survey will be hosted on either SurveyMonkey or another platform the city uses with it being advertised on social media. Wennerberg will continue to refine the survey with Vallee and publish it once completed.

The board then moved on to discuss the train trestle and the idea of either creating a sticker to place on top of the surface of the trestle, or painting individual panels of the siding of the trestle in order to keep the artist from having to hover over Hwy 331. Wennerberg spoke with a representative at the railroad regarding the issue, and she was informed that a sticker could not be used because it would mask dangerous cracking that paint would not disguise.

Wennerberg was also informed that those are not panels but rather one entire sheet and the rivets seen are bolts holding it in place. The representative suggested attaching something to the railing which is roughly the same height, or the utilization of pillars in some way could also be negotiated. Wennerberg will go back to the representative at the railroad to discuss the situation further after this discussion with the board.

Board member Mike Goodchild then brought up his research on bat houses, something discussed at a previous meeting. Goodchild stated that it really just boils down to the desired size of the bat house, a regular design would be suitable for an independent person putting one up, but in regards to the city, he is contemplating placing much larger ones on telephone poles. Goodchild went on to ask if permission from the city council would be needed for their board decision on the bat houses. Wennerberg said that it would be best to request permission from the city council before doing anything major.

Then the discussion moved to where the bat house would be located. Goodchild suggested it be closer to the Library since they have an issue with bats. Wennerberg asked if there were bat experts in the area that could help guide them in this decision. Goodchild said he could get most information from the university, and was tasked with the mission of gathering more information on bats in general as well as a cost estimate before the next regular meeting.

Walton Middle School (WMS) agriculture and Future Farmers of America (FFA) teacher Joe Proffitt approached the board regarding a collaborative community project with the city of DeFuniak and WMS FFA during citizen comments. He proposed a community garden on the vacant property where the water tower is near the fountain, using raised garden beds built by the students in WMS's construction team. Proffitt will have his vegetable and horticultural team plant beds at WMS with plants that will be grown in the garden. Proffitt believes it would be a beneficial project for both the students and the expansion of downtown DeFuniak Springs.

Goodchild mentioned that there have been attempts at a community garden in that area, but he believes with the addition of the containers, it would function better. Wennerberg interjected that not only the containers would improve the odds of the success of the garden but also the maintenance guarantee would help the success of the garden as well. Proffitt is mainly seeking design help from the board as well as support. The project would not start until the beginning of the next school year since the construction class will be building the raised beds. This will be further discussed at the next meeting.