Destin officials await funding for two park projects.

DESTIN — City officials are looking forward to the holiday season in more ways than one.

City Manager Lance Johnson told the city council last week that the Okaloosa County Commission recently approved the final applications for federal money to pay for amenities at Clement Taylor Park and development of the future Capt. Royal Melvin Heritage Park.

The funding for both projects would consist of RESTORE Act settlement money from the 2010 BP oil spill. The funding applications are now in the hands of the U.S. Treasury, which aims to have them processed within three months, Johnson said.

“So with any kind of luck, we will be seeing some money back within three months,” he told the council.

“Christmas?” Mayor Gary Jarvis asked.

“Christmas present, hopefully,” Johnson said.

“That would be awesome,” the mayor replied.

Johnson said the city plans to pay for the park projects upfront and then ask for reimbursement.

“If we want to insure that we get 100% reimbursement, we need to wait until they tell us that we have received the awards,” he said in response to questions from Jarvis and Councilman Rodney Braden.

At the existing 3.6-acre Clement Taylor Park, 131 Calhoun Ave., Destin officials plan to use almost $730,000 in RESTORE Act money to add new restrooms, new playground surface and equipment, improved parking, sidewalks, a pier and swimming area and an additional picnic pavilion. The park overlooks Choctawhatchee Bay.

At the 0.77-acre Capt. Royal Melvin Heritage Park at 206 Harbor Blvd., the city plans to use $1.2 million worth of RESTORE Act money for site work and the addition of amenities such as pathways, benches, picnic tables, restrooms, docks for transient boats and a kayak launch.

This park site next to Destin Harbor is just east of Dewey Destin’s Harborside Restaurant. Last year, the council approved a lawsuit settlement agreement with Dewey Destin to resolve a court battle that centered on an easement/public access road at the future recreation area.

Project timelines for Clement Taylor and Capt. Royal Melvin Heritage parks will be solidified after the federal funding is provided.

Just south of Clement Taylor Park is Captain Leonard Destin Park, which remains under construction and could open early next year.

Features of this 3.42-acre park site at 101 Calhoun Ave. include a pier, kayak launch area, beach access, splash pad, picnic pavilion, restrooms, outdoor showers, parking lot, a boardwalk through the site’s great blue heron rookery, and a replica of a historic seine boat.

Working on behalf of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the nonprofit Trust for Public Land bought the property for the park in 2016. Once the park is fully developed, the Trust plans to donate it to the city.

The total park project cost is about $10 million. It consists of land purchase and park development expenses, as well as more than $900,000 that the Trust plans to give to the city to cover 10 years worth of operating and maintenance costs.