N.W. Florida: Jim Fowler’s animal park will be "massive"

Christopher Mitchell (cmitchell@wmbb.com)
News 13 on your side
Friday, February 16, 2007

Bonifay, Fla. – Barbara Farris, owner of Blue Dolphin II Development, is the developer of Jim Fowler’s Life in the Wild animal park in Bonifay.

She says she is ready to close on the land on the southeast corner of Interstate 10 and Highway 79 for the park.

One part of the development is roughly 1,000 acres. She’s also purchasing another 6,000 acres next to it for development of a theme park.

State officials from the Department of Community Affairs and other agencies told county leaders and citizens Friday in Bonifay to brace for the changes the “massive development” is about bring.

The meeting took place at the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce office with about 75 people from both Holmes and Washington counties representing business leaders and locally elected officials.

“The area that’s planned to be developed with the associations to this animal park is massive,” says one state official to the audience.

“It’s a little over 7,000 acres of land, when all told. Now, when you put that into perspective, it’s a little over ten square miles.”

State leaders encouraged Holmes and Washington County residents to begin thinking about future growth impacts and comprehensive plans immediately.

Barbara Farris attended and said she’s ready to close on a piece of the 7,000 acres to begin phase I of the development, which is the animal park.

“We’re at the stage to get ready to start closing land as long as we get cooperation,” she told attendees.

“We have 3,600 job applications that I brought here for you to see. You have people from Texas to Birmingham to Holmes County to Washington County who want jobs in this park.”

State officials emphasized the importance of the development to economic growth of the rural counties, and urged leaders and residents to get together to figure out what they want their counties to look like in the next few years.

“This region is under a lot of scrutiny,” one state official told the audience.

“You’re not going to be able to hide any further from development.”

Farris says the next two weeks are most critical regarding the massive development.

“The next two weeks are going to be very crucial for everybody to pay close attention to what’s fixing to happen.”

State officials recommend all residents to refer to the developer’s website for further details www.bluedolphinII.com

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