Florida DEP Banner


CONTACT: DEP Press Office, 850.245.2112,


~U.S. Air Force, City of Niceville and Florida Communities Trust partner to acquire 67 acres~

Niceville signing

Bill McCartney, Lannie Corbin, Steve Ruckel and Cheri Albin join Rick Mercer for the signing of the closing papers.

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Communities Trust (FCT) and the City of Niceville today closed on the first of three parcels to expand Turkey Creek Walk Park.

In 2011, Niceville submitted an FCT Parks and Open Space Grant application, which was ranked fourth for funding by the FCT governing board. The acquisition plan includes three distinctive parcels. The 67-acre priority parcel acquired today from Ruckel Properties, Inc. will provide a military buffer on the south boundary of Eglin Air Force Base Reservation and protect wooded wetlands along Turkey Creek.

"This acquisition is a win for the City of Niceville and for Florida's environment through preservation and base buffering," said Rick Mercer, DEP's director of operations. "We appreciate the hard work and dedication of Niceville, the U.S. Air Force, Ruckel Properties and Florida Communities Trust staff."

The site connects to the seven-acre Turkey Creek Walk Park site acquired by the city with FCT grant funds in 1997.

“Niceville has put into concrete our commitment to the environment and this acquisition will make this available to the public forever,” said Lannie Corbin, manager of the City of Niceville.

In accordance with FCT grant requirements and within the U.S. Air Force’s (USAF) restrictions on the parcel, Niceville will protect and manage the natural communities, and offer passive recreation including a loop nature trail with benches, a swinging bridge over the creek and trail connectivity to the parks and boardwalk to its south.

“Our family is proud to see the fulfillment of this dream for the City of Niceville and the Turkey Creek Walk Park,” said Steve Ruckel, president and chief executive officer of Ruckel Properties, Inc.

The total project cost for the acquisition, which includes the land purchase price and acquisition expenses, was $163,840.70. The FCT grant award funded 75 percent of the total cost, which was $122,880.52, with the Niceville’s required 25-percent match of $40,960.18. The USAF provided supplemental funds above FCT’s maximum allowable purchase price to assure public ownership of this parcel and secure military buffering restrictions. Acquisition of the two remaining parcels is anticipated by the end of August 2014.

Florida Communities Trust assists communities in protecting important natural resources, providing recreational opportunities and preserving Florida's traditional working waterfronts through the competitive criteria in the Parks and Open Space Florida Forever Grant Program and the Stan Mayfield Working Waterfronts Florida Forever Grant Program. These local land-acquisition grant programs provide funding to local governments and eligible non-profit organizations to acquire land for parks, open space, greenways and projects supporting Florida's seafood harvesting and aquaculture industries. Florida Communities Trust is funded under the Florida Forever Program. Over the last 20 years, the Florida Communities Trust has acquired 504 parcels valued at more than $1.5 billion.