Needed Public Beach Access Becoming a Reality

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More public beach access in Destin is coming soon. A nearly 340-foot beachfront “Tarpon Beach Park” is now on its way to becoming a reality. The City of Destin, Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners, Trust for Public Land and Destin-Fort Walton Beach Tourist Development Council have partnered to acquire land in Destin to expand the existing Tarpon Beach access. Three parcels adjacent to the Tarpon Beach Trail will be cleared to make way for the park, which will have new, stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico along Scenic Highway 98.
“Making our beautiful beaches more accessible to our residents and out-of-town guests is a top priority for the County,” said Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Trey Goodwin. “This is a major step toward that goal, and we are grateful to have a team of partners that understand that commitment.”

Added Destin Mayor Bobby Wagner, “These kinds of partnerships are an effective way to move Destin forward in a positive direction for both locals and visitors. I applaud the efforts of our partners and the work of former Mayor Gary Jarvis in making this a reality.”

Okaloosa County and the City of Destin have pledged a combined $26.5 million to expand public beach access in Destin. The Tarpon Beach project is Phase II of this endeavor and the cost share is split 50/50 between the city and county. Phase I progress took place with the removal of structures in April 2021 to expand the Crystal Beach Access. The county’s portion, as well as much of the city’s, will be funded with Tourism Development District revenue.

Trust for Public Land was the lead agency that helped negotiate the purchase of the properties for both Phase I and II.

“Increasing access to the pristine Tarpon Beach is not only a tourism draw for the city but gives residents walkability to the waterfront and all its amenities that have previously been closed off,” said Kate Brown, Senior Project Manager for Trust for Public Land.”

The new park at Tarpon Beach will include free parking and restrooms. Parks at both Crystal Beach (Phase I) and Tarpon Beach (Phase II) are expected to be open to the public in May 2024, with construction starting after this tourism season.

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