Five months after the groundbreaking, construction has finally begun on Captain Leonard Destin Park.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Destin Parks and Recreation Director, Lance Johnson. “We’re really excited.”
Kate Brown, senior project manager at the Trust for Public Land, said permitting was the reason for the delay in construction, but they now hope to have the project finished by next summer.
Since the groundbreaking of the new park in February, Brown said they have been waiting to get all the needed approvals to begin constructions.
“There were some federal agencies that had to review this project before we could proceed, including some Indian tribes,” she said.
Working on behalf of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Trust for Public Land purchased the 3.32-acre parcel on Calhoun Ave in March 2016. Upon completion, the park will be given to the city, along with funding for operation and maintenance for 10 years.
Johnson said the park will have its own beach, providing the public with more access to the coastline, something he said the city desperately needs.
According to Brown, the cost to construct the new park is over $5 million. Funding for the project came from early restoration money from the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment.
Right now, construction crews are working on preparing the site by protecting the oaks on the property, grating the land and working on the docks and pilings.
“It'll progress from the ground up,” Brown said. “Staging the site and getting started with delivering materials and getting various contractors out.”
Besides the property being the former homestead of Leonard Destn, the first person to settle in Destin in the mid-19th century, it is also a great blue heron rookery.
“(The herons) have really thrived in that area so we're doing what we can to protect them during the construction and then also create a nice landscaped area under those trees for when they're nesting,” Brown said.
But Brown said there’s one part of the project that is the most exciting to her.
“There's gonna be a splash pad,” she said. “I'm really excited to test that out. I want to be the first one.”