Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Story Behind The Property

A few posts back, I mentioned that the property the Island King has been shooting at night has a story. An interesting, disgusting, sad story.

This piece of property was originally owned by some of the early settlers of Destin.
The property had a small lake, beautiful oak hammocks and every kind of native flora you can imagine. I was out there once to sign Island Girl up for an art class and spent an hour wandering the property and marveling at just how beautiful it was.

The woman who owned the property was a huge advocate of the arts and started a foundation that offered art and theater to the people in our community.

Her husband died 20 something years before she did and she buried him in a mausoleum she had built in a quiet corner of their property. When she died, she was buried there with him.

They had several children who all live here locally and I don't know how she willed her assets but I know that she left her home and the property it stood on to the local community college.

Her will stated that her wishes were for this property to be used as a place where college students as well as members of the community could have classes. Art, marine studies, nature studies, etc. I got the impression that she wished it to be a retreat type of environment where people could learn and study and create. I know the day I wandered around out there I was truly inspired by Florida's awesome nature.

But the college didn't utilize this gift. Her foundation headquartered there and they do a lot of great things for our community, but the college never really used it.

Then, one morning a few years ago, the headline in the newspaper stated that the college was selling this property to a developer and then they were going to use that money for other college purposes.

This was met with outrage. Not only by the woman's children but by the whole community. Everyone knew this woman and everyone knew she donated the land to the college to be used to educate and inspire.

Her children immediately tried to block the sale and the whole mess went to court.
And stayed there for several years.

In the end, the court ruled that the woman's will wasn't "specifically" worded to say that the college could never sell the property. So the college sold the property. The woman buried her husband and then was buried there herself. Obviously this property was special to her. And if she had wanted a bunch of houses built all over the place, she'd have sold the land to a developer herself.

The Island King and I are both disgusted by this whole thing. We think it was wrong of the college to sell the property and we think it's wrong that this property is being developed into a private community.

And unfortunately, we're playing a part in it. We're being paid a lot of much needed money and even though the Island King and I both agree that we don't like having anything to do with promoting this property, the sale happened, the property is being developed, we need the money, and they called us. And we sold out to the almighty dollar. Sigh.

Lately, when we've been out there at night I've felt so bad for the original owners. Their mausoleum is there and instead of artists and students wandering the property it will be gated and filled with private homes. Very sad.

I blame the college more than the guy who bought the property.
He's just doing what developers do (the Island King says I have to be nice and can't call them carpetbaggers - so I won't ;)
but it's the college who knew what the woman wanted them to do with the property. They told her they would honor her wishes but then ended up selling the property so they could buy more property somewhere else.

Disgusting.

So that's the story of the night property. I wish I could say that we refused to be a part of it but I can't. The good thing is that we've found the owl and he's becoming a really cool obsession.
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