DESTIN – A lack of funding could be one of the city’s biggest obstacles to purchasing the vacant “Parcel B” beach site and making it a public beach.
The possible purchase is up for discussion at tonight’s City Council meeting. That’s when the council plans to consider whether to authorize city Land Use Attorney Kimberly Kopp to discuss the potential land buy with Parcel B owner Peter Bos or his attorney, Dana Matthews.
The 11.7-acre property along the East Pass is next to Destin Pointe on the west end of Holiday Isle.
Bos is the president/CEO of Legendary LLC and the developer of the Emerald Grande resort. Last summer, Emerald Grande guests were often transported to the parcel to enjoy the beach.
Destin officials say buying the property would create additional beach and waterfront access for the public. But doing so would be very expensive.
While Parcel B’s assessed value is $434,654, it was purchased by Bos and his associates in 2012 for almost $4.2 million. City officials have not yet discussed the potential cost of buying the land.
In any event, there currently “are no funds in the city general fund balance for purchase of Parcel B or needed improvements,” City Manager Carisse LeJeune said in a memo to the council.
Bond funding is a possibility, but the city does not have revenue sources to pay debt service on a bond, said LeJeune, who added that city staff hasn’t been able to identify any available grants for the potential purchase.
The city also would face other challenges if the council decides it wants to buy the land.
For example, LeJeune said there is no public access from Gulf Shore Drive directly onto Parcel B. She said Gulf Winds Court and Gulf Breeze Court, which are the only access roads to the parcel from Gulf Shore Drive, are privately owned and not wide enough to meet city standards for vehicle traffic.
The city could build a sidewalk on either of the two private streets if it received a homeowners’ association easement, and could provide on-street parking along Gulf Shore Drive, LeJeune said. One sidewalk project would cost about $22,000, and providing on-street parking would cost close to $120,000.
Also, if the city buys the beach site, it could try to install various structures on the parcel. In her memo, LeJeune listed the estimated costs of these structures: $250,000 for restrooms and $100,000 for their utilities, $140,000 for a boardwalk and $35,000 for a shade shelter.
In regards to these potential structures, Destin spokesman Doug Rainer on Friday said the council could ask city staff for details on the location of a federal government easement on Parcel B. The easement is the foundation end of the east jetty and is used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deposit sand dredged from the East Pass.
Besides the Parcel B discussion, the council also plans to consider whether to adopt an ordinance that would limit standalone, individual portable toilets to the sites of permitted construction projects and permitted special events.
Last year, Legendary had raised the ire of residents next to Parcel B by stationing a portable toilet at the edge of the parcel.