Busway Battle

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School buses have been using a small road to drop off and pick up students at Butler Elementary for eight years. That changed this weekend when county Commissioner Tim Pauls put up a barricade.

Last fall Pauls bought a small strip of land that crosses the road and has proposed an even swap, his small strip of land for a triangular area currently owned by the school.

School officials want Pauls’ land but don't want to give up anything. They're willing to buy, but so far Pauls won't sell, so the school district is threatening to take the land under imminent domain laws.

Wayne Miller with Walton District Schools says, “We can't afford to give up the lot and have the vehicular traffic so close together, which is what his proposal would allow and again, the buses would not be able to make that radius and turn back north onto 30-A without going over into the other lane.”

County Commissioner Tim Pauls says, “If you see where buses go in Walton County, and you don't think that a bus could come down this and make this turn onto 30-A? I just have a hard time with that one.”

Until the two sides resolve the issue, Pauls is asking for $5,000 a month “good faith” money, applied to a possible purchase price. That's taxpayers' money.

“It's my taxes too. I pay taxes and I would question the wisdom of any government official in building improvements with my tax dollars on property they didn't own,” he says.

The barricade is only inconveniencing about 55 summer school students, but it will be a huge headache this fall. School Board members will hold a special meeting Wednesday night to deal with the issue.