With pipes in place, it's only a matter of time before dredge crews begin to pump sand onto the critically eroded beaches of Holiday Isle.
"It's fantastic," said Ron Johnston, president of the Holiday Isle Improvement Association. "It's been a long haul, but we are almost there."
After years of legal wrangling and contentious litigation that even reached the highest court in the land, work is expected to begin this week on the long-awaited West Destin Beach Restoration project, which will add between 500,000-600,000 cubic yards of sand to a 6,200-linear foot stretch of beach that has been ravaged by storms throughout the years.
Crews from Great Lakes Dredge and Docks have positioned their pipes, and are only waiting on the main dredge boat to arrive in Destin. City leaders signed a $6.77 million contract with the Oak Brook, Ill.-based company back in November. Great Lakes was the contractor on the $28 million Destin/Walton County beach restoration in 2007.
As someone who has been involved in the beach restoration efforts for about six or seven years, both as a private citizen and elected official, former City Councilman Larry Hines said the excitement level along Holiday Isle is tremendous.
"I think everybody out here is ecstatic and there will be a lot of people out there watching every day," he said. "There is no downside to this; it's nothing but good news for us out here."
As part of the legal battles, city leaders in Destin agreed to skip a portion of property owners, creating a roughly 2,600-foot gap in the middle of the project area. Work will begin at the east jetty and move along Holiday Isle to Destin on the Gulf, then it will skip Oceania, a group of 18 single-family homes, Holiday Isle Towers and the Martinique Condominiums before picking back up at Sandpiper Cove and finishing up at the South Bay subdivision.
The project is expected to begin moving sand by Jan. 24, city officials said. Per the city's contract with Great Lakes, the project must be completed by March 15.
The total project will cost $7.5 million and will be funded by bed tax dollars through the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council.
"It's been years in the making and it's finally happening," Johnston told The Log.