Parks in the pipeline

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Like the more than $12 million Norriego Point work that could be completed in early 2019, the other projects will be paid for with settlement money from the 2010 BP oil spill.

TONY JUDNICH @Tonyjnwfdn

DESTIN — With the groundbreaking of the long-awaited Norriego Point stabilization and recreation project behind them, city officials are looking forward to the start of construction on several other major park projects.

Like the more than $12 million Norriego Point work that could be completed in early 2019, the other projects will be paid for with settlement money from the 2010 BP oil spill.

“We have a lot of park projects and a lot of recreational amenities in the queue,” Destin spokesman Doug Rainer said Monday.

For example, officials in late August issued a final development order to the nonprofit Trust for Public Land to begin work on the estimated $8.7 million Capt. Leonard Destin Park.

This trust-owned, 3.3-acre park at 101 Calhoun Ave. along Choctawhatchee Bay will feature a beach area, kayak launch, splash pad, restrooms, a parking area and picnic facilities.

The groundbreaking for the park’s construction could occur in January and the work could be completed sometime next summer. Once the project is finished, the Trust for Public Land will give the park and 10 years’ worth of maintenance costs to the city.

The long-vacant site of the future park was the homestead of Capt. Leonard Destin, who settled in Destin around 1850-52 and pioneered the local fishing industry.

“One of the features of the park will be a structure that harkens back to a seine boat that would have been used by Leonard Destin,” Kate Brown, senior project manager at the Trust for Public Land’s Tallahassee office, said Tuesday. “There will be some interpretation of the history of the site.”

While the start of work on that park inches closer, city officials are waiting to receive $1.2 million worth of RESTORE Act funding that would pay for the Capt. Royal Melvin Heritage Park and Plaza. The 0.77-acre site is at 206 Harbor Blvd.

Planned features include docks for transient boats, a kayak launch, historical/environmental displays, a wildlife observation area, restrooms and picnic facilities. City officials do not have a project timeline yet.

The park site is just east of Dewey Destin’s Harborside Restaurant. Last fall, Dewey Destin filed a lawsuit against the city after it placed a fence around the area, which blocked an easement/public access road that he and his company had used to get to the lower end of his property.

The dispute still has not been resolved, Rainer said.

City officials also are waiting to receive almost $730,000 in RESTORE Act money on what they call a long overdue restoration of the 3.6-acre Clement Taylor Park at 131 Calhoun Ave.

The city plans to add new restrooms, new playground surface and equipment, improved parking, sidewalks, a fishing pier and swimming area, and an additional picnic pavilion. A project timeline will be solidified after the funding is provided.

Destin also is waiting on grant funding to develop Joe’s Bayou Recreation Area on the 3.9-acre former CEMEX cement plant property at 820 Beach Drive.

Last December the city applied for about $4.5 million in grant money that would pay for the development of the bayside park’s master plan and the cost of various amenities.

The grant would come from the Natural Resources Damage Assessment program, which was created in the wake of the BP oil spill.

The Joe’s Bayou park likely will feature amenities such as walking trails, fishing areas and a kayak launch. There is no timeline for the work.

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