DESTIN — With the goal of acquiring more public beach property, city officials hope to have appraisals of eight Gulf-front parcels completed within about the next two to three months.
According to city information, there are 13 beach access points within the city limits: 11 are city-owned, one is owned by Okaloosa County and one is owned by the state.
However, parking is limited at the city beach access points and many of them only provide entry to limited public beach frontage. Destin officials often receive complaints from both local and visiting beachgoers about public beach areas not being clearly marked from private ones, and vendors setting up rows of beach chairs on large swaths of sand.
“We’re trying to address beach access all along Crystal Beach,” Mayor Gary Jarvis said at a recent City Council meeting.
Destin’s initiative of trying to acquire more public beach goes back to at least last summer, when the council authorized Jarvis to have preliminary discussions with various land owners.
Last week, City Manager Lance Johnson received the council’s approval to hire one or more appraisers to complete appraisals on the eight beach parcels, one or more of which the city could end up purchasing.
More recently, Johnson made an agreement with Humphrey & Associates of Fort Walton Beach to perform the appraisals for $14,350, according to city spokeswoman Catherine Card.
The properties include what the city calls the West James Lee Park parcel. This .32-acre lot includes .11 of an acre of beachfront, is 68 linear feet wide and stands next to the county-owned James Lee Park. The parcel’s asking price is $5 million.
Other properties on the city’s list include the .37-acre Sunfish Street parcel, which is just west of the West James Lee Park lot. The 60 linear-foot Sunfish Street property includes .14-acre of beachfront and has an asking price of $2.95 million.
Destin officials have discussed trying to use county bed-tax money and funding from Triumph Gulf Coast and the Trust for Public Land to pay for the potential purchase of one or more parcels.