DESTIN — A lifeguard began patrolling popular Norriego Point on Friday, and city officials have ordered safety markers for the new swimming areas on the point’s East Pass side, according to City Manager Carisse LeJeune.

At its meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, the Destin City Council is scheduled to receive updates on those and other Norriego Point activities.

The new swimming areas, or embayments, were built during the recently-completed first phase of the more than $12 million Norriego Point stabilization and recreation project.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection's project manager for the overall project recently said the state was officially opening the point to the public and that it will remain open until the project’s on-land public-access amenities begin being built this winter, LeJeune noted in a recent memo to the council.

Besides the new swimming areas, the project’s first phase included the addition of about 5 acres of sand dredged from East Pass to the 7.6-acre point.

In addition, sheet piling, rock breakwaters and rock shoreline stabilization structures were installed, and more than 1,000 feet of shoreline were restored.

Plans call for various types of vegetation to be planted on the dunes in late summer. Facilities such as a dune crossover, restrooms, showers, picnic shelters, a boardwalk and new parking spots will be added in the winter.

The entire project, which is being paid for with settlement money from the 2010 BP oil spill, could be completed next spring.

According to LeJeune, city and Destin Fire Control District officials had previously understood that Norriego Point would not be open to the public until both the stabilization and recreation phases of construction were completed.

But many people have been visiting anyway, regardless of any official authorization.

While taking note of that reality, the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council last week approved bed tax funds for two additional lifeguards in Destin through Labor Day.

Besides now having at least one lifeguard at Norriego Point, city staff has ordered about $3,000 worth of swimming buoys, ropes, anchors and signs for the new swimming areas.

The ropes and buoys will be installed at the outer edge of each new embayment to help define the swimming areas and protect swimmers. Signs outlining safety protocols and park rules also will be posted, LeJeune said.

“All items have been ordered and are expected to arrive any day now,” city spokesman Doug Rainer said Friday. “They will be installed as soon as they arrive.”

Besides receiving those updates, the council on Monday plans to consider placing “No boat parking” signs at and near the new tip of Norriego Point.

“The stabilization project is complete and the shoreline no longer extends into the (Destin Harbor entrance) channel,” city Public Services Director David Campbell said in a recent city memo. “The mouth of the harbor now contains rock stabilization and a 100-foot retaining wall with a concrete cap extending along the shoreline into the harbor. This area is not appropriate for boat parking and should be posted accordingly.

"The remaining shoreline (on the public portion of the point southeast of the retaining wall) no longer conflicts with the channel” and is available for boat parking.