CRESTVIEW — A city facility offering multiple sports, arts and cultural opportunities has potential, according to Northwest Florida State College’s Institute for Senior Professionals.


Report: family entertainment complex viable in Crestview



CRESTVIEW — A city facility offering multiple sports, arts and cultural opportunities has potential, according to Northwest Florida State College’s Institute for Senior Professionals.



City Council President Ben Iannucci III — who has championed the project — presented findings from the institute’s 30-page feasibility report at Monday’s council meeting.



The facility requires a 60-acre site, said Iannucci, who suggested using land off Rasberry Road. The complex’s original suggested site, a city-owned 17-acre parcel behind the Brookmeade Public Safety building, was too small, and the sloping topography was unacceptable for sports fields, the study stated. The location also raised concerns about noise, increased traffic and light pollution for surrounding residential neighborhoods.



Crestview would be a prime location for traveling sports team events, Iannucci said, adding that Panama City has the closest such complex. The city would be a stop on the traveling team sports circuit among Georgia, Alabama and Jacksonville complexes.



That would bring additional revenue to the area — “studies have shown it can bring tens of millions of dollars in economic impact to the area," Iannucci said.



At the local Okaloosa Arts Alliance committee’s recommendation, Iannucci incorporated visual and performing arts studios, gallery and multi-use performance and sports space in the proposal.



Funding sources could include a local tourist development tax, also called a "bed tax," and BP settlement money from the April 2010 Gulf oil spill. Rasberry Road's proximity to Interstate 10 might also attract state Department of Transportation funds, Iannucci said.



"I'm all for the concept," Councilwoman Robyn Helt said.



Resident Landrum Edwards, who has criticized the project, accused Iannucci of "changing the paint and whitewashing" the project by including the family arts and entertainment component.



However, adding facilities for the whole family was what made the project more appealing to community activist Mae R. Coleman.



"Just love it and support it,” she said. “We need action on it. Never stop the man's vision. God gave it to him."



Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or brianh@crestviewbulletin.com. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.