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Public Beach, Parks, and Zoning Top List for Destin in 2021

After working through the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, city officials have managed to press on in 2021 and get some big-ticket items accomplished. 

Topping the list of accomplishments was acquiring a new public beach for residents and visitors to use in the Crystal Beach area. 

“Two parcels were acquired this past year, tripling the public beach area available at the Shores of Crystal Beach Park,” Destin City Manager Lance Johnson said in an email.

Those parcels are located on the east end of Destin. 

Next on the list, but not visible to folks yet, was the city staff completing revisions to the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Districts. 

“This was a huge accomplishment that will help guide Destin’s future development and redevelopment,” Johnson said. 

The city also started construction on the Captain Royal Melvin Heritage Park on the harbor between Brotula’s Seafood House and Steamer and Dewey Destin’s on the Harbor. 

“When completed it will serve as the public pedestrian gateway to the Destin harbor,” Johnson said. 

The park will include a public observation platform overlooking the harbor, restrooms, play areas, interpretive signage and a resource room to hold small group activities and classes. 

One of the bigger accomplishments that is being used on a daily bases is Captain Leonard Destin Park on Choctawhatchee Bay. 

Although construction on the park was completed in August of 2020, Hurricane Sally hit about the time the city was planning the official opening. The hurricane washed away some of the beach and the park was closed. Repairs were made and the park was open most of last winter. 

But the official opening, complete with a ribbon cutting, took place in May. 

The park has a public swimming beach, splash-pad, heron rookery, pier, kayak launch, playground and restrooms. 

It is “quickly becoming a favorite gathering spot for residents and visitors alike,” Johnson said. 

Another achievement, but not as visible as a park, was implementing the new COMPASS/Ener-Gov software system to manage the permitting and planning process for the Community Development and Code Compliance departments. 

“This new system is reducing the processing time for permits and reviews, and allows applicants to enter and search information online,” Johnson said. 

And with the new year just days away, there are goals and projects to accomplish in the days ahead. 

Topping the list of goals in 2022, according to Johnson, are: 

  • Acquire additional public beach for residents and visitors to enjoy. 
  • Complete construction of Captain Royal Melvin Park 
  • Continue planning work required to implement phase one of the undergrounding of overhead utility lines from the Marler Bridge to Airport Road. 
  • Continue efforts to attract and retain highly qualified city staff. 
  • Complete the alignment of the Land Development Code with the city’s Comprehensive Plan 
  • Implement the Clement Taylor Park renovation project primarily funded through a Restore Act grant. 
  • Implement the city’s new way-finding program. 

Source: The Destin Log

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