DESTIN — The city will wait until it receives feedback on its Triumph Gulf Coast funding pre-application before deciding whether to support a study that could benefit Destin’s public beach initiative.
The City Council agreed with that staff recommendation on Monday.
Destin officials are seeking $12 million in Triumph Gulf Coast funding for its public beach initiative. They hope to combine that potential money with funding from other sources to buy one or more beach parcels in the Crystal Beach area for public use.
City officials have been looking at eight beach parcels that stand between Henderson Beach State Park and the Okaloosa County-owned James Lee Park and range in price from about $3 million to $17 million.
The city has committed $2 million in city funds and county officials have earmarked $6.5 million in county bed-tax money for the cause.
According to city information, there are 13 public beach access points within Destin: 11 are city-owned, one is owned by the county and one is owned by the state. Parking is limited at the city access points and many of them only provide entry to limited public beach frontage.
Deputy City Manager Webb Warren told the council that Triumph will provide feedback on the city’s pre-application at Triumph’s June 20 meeting in Wakulla.
Based on that feedback, if the city chooses to submit a full application, a decision then could be made on how the city should proceed with a Haas Center proposal to assist the beach initiative, Warren said.
The Haas Center is a research and consulting organization at the University of West Florida in Pensacola.
“One key element of the Triumph application process is having detailed data outlining the economic impact of the project, specifically data tied to job creation,” Warren said in a memo to the council.
With the council’s approval, a Haas Center study would provide such data.
Among other items, the analysis would provide an assessment of the economic impact of Destin’s tourism industry, a discussion of the public beach initiative’s impact on employment, including a breakdown of jobs by type, wages and other criteria, and a look at the economic impacts of maintaining the status quo.
The potential study could cost between $29,000 and $59,000 and last for five to 14 months, according to city information.
“The data will be well worth it,” City Manager Lance Johnson said of the cost.