Now that the calendar officially reads 2014, city leaders in Destin can sit back and look at what was accomplished in 2013, as well as what's on the horizon for the "World's Luckiest Fishing Village."
The Log asked city leaders to share, in their opinion, what was the single most important accomplishment in 2013; where they felt the city fell short last year; and what area/topic the city needs to address first and foremost in 2014.
Here is what Councilman Jim Foreman, Councilman Cyron Marler, Councilwoman Sandy Trammell, and Mayor Sam Seevers had to say.
What was the city's single-most important accomplishment in 2013, and why?
Foreman: There were a number of highly important accomplishments in 2013, including renourishment of the beaches; finalizing design of Heritage Park; the Marler/U.S. 98 parking lot; the Comprehensive Plan review; and funding for a signal at Marler and U.S. 98. At the top of the list has to be design and funding for Norriego Point because on completion it will permanently change East Pass and the harbor in a positive way.
Marler: I think I would have to say finally getting the funding for Norriego Point. The why is simple, to armor our harbor and help our fishing fleet and to give our visitors a city park on the beach. Also, I would have to say starting the process to revamp the Tier III process.
Seevers: We had several important accomplishments from the Marler public parking lot; the expanded library amenities; the amazing beach restoration project; the Fisherman’s Wharf Outfall; and the Clean City Initiatives — all of which are important. The most important for me is the NRDA grant funding of $10.2 million dollars the city was awarded for the complete restoration of Norriego Point. Obtaining those funds was a difficult process and it was so competitive. This project is critical for maintaining our historical harbor and increasing the public’s (both local and visitors) opportunity to enjoy the beautiful beach park by adding additional acreage to the point. It will also drastically improve our charter fishing fleets ability to access the mouth of the harbor by widening the mouth and stabilizing the point.
Trammell: We have accomplished several things this year, but I'm especially proud of our city parking lot, the renourishment of Holiday Isle, as well as our mayor's extraordinary efforts in getting monies to complete our Norriego Point hardening.
There are always hits and misses, where do you feel the city fell short this year, and why?
Foreman: As far as things that could have been done better, there is always improvement through better communications to the city manager and staff from the council. The result was wasted effort and time.
Marler: Two come to mind. First, not solving one way or the other the Gentlemen's Club issue, no matter the outcome, the cost involved takes away dollars that could have been used elsewhere in the city. Second, the issue of who has jurisdiction in the harbor and can we restrict vendors. This issue will be solved in the coming year, but how it started could have been avoided if everyone (the city and vendors) could have come to an agreement early on.
Trammell: I am disappointed that we were not able to acquire the cement plant property to expand our facilities and public recreation at the boat launching ramp (on Beach Drive).
Looking to 2014, what area/topic does the city need to address first and foremost, and why?
Foreman: The priority in 2014 has to focus on economic development. There are a number of capital improvements waiting on a rising tax base. Maintaining low taxes requires growth in the economy.
Marler: Going back to question two — solve those two issues. Then I would say that these three things would be my wish list for 2014 — safety around, and in, the harbor; get Norriego Point project started; and finalize the Tier III process. The why is simple, again — to make Destin the number one place to work, live and play on the Emerald Coast.
Seevers: We must complete the planning and design for the stabilization of Norriego Point so we may start the project in the fall. We have a tremendous opportunity with the complete funding of this project and we must be steadfast in doing our part in assuring it is completed by the summer of 2015.
Also, if the budgetary restraints ease up this year, and they should, we must start improving the neighborhoods with better lighting, sidewalks and some major road and storm water repairs. We must also provide the staff with what is necessary to continually provide the best quality of service to our residents.
Trammell: I'm looking forward to working with, council, city staff and citizens in completing our annual goals, which includes transportation infrastructure and putting our economic improvement strategies in place.