MILTON — Downtown Milton will soon receive a turtle statue painted by the Arts and Culture Foundation, and the City Council has chosen its home.
The Santa Rosa County Tourism Development Council will pay for the statue, which will be comparable to pelicans on display in Pensacola. The statue measures approximately 5 feet tall and 5 feet wide at its widest point and has a concrete base, according to City Manager Brian Watkins. The Arts and Culture Foundation is painting the turtle with a military design honoring multiple branches.
According to Cindy Booth of the Arts and Culture Foundation, the foundation could add more turtles to the city in the future; the Florida Welcome Center on Interstate 10 received the first turtle statue in 2016, which was painted to honor multiple local attractions. Booth said businesses including Adventures Unlimited and Blackwater Trails have already applied for their own turtle statues.
Councilwoman Ashley Lay voiced her concerns about people climbing on the statute and questioned its stability. According to Jack Sanborn, a local businessman, although steel will reinforce the statue, it will be fragile and is not made for people to lean or climb on. Councilman Jeff Snow recommended adding a sign advising people not to climb on the statute.
After a discussion about multiple locations — including next to the fountain on Caroline Street and Elmira Street, North Willing Street next to the Imogene Theatre, and on the lawn of the Santa Rosa County courthouse on the corner of Caroline Street and South Willing Street — the council decided to place the turtle on the courthouse lawn.
Councilwoman Sharon Holley said she liked the idea of the statue being on South Willing Street because it would be close to the Santa Rosa County Veterans Memorial Plaza. Snow agreed, and said there will be more foot traffic in this area during events on South Willing Street; also, cameras on the building would surveil the statue.
Snow made a motion to put the statue on the corner of the courthouse lawn; Holley seconded the motion and the motion passed with Lay and Mary Ellen Johnson opposed.