Destin to work with nonprofit Trust for Public Land on city’s initiative to provide more public beach
DESTIN — City Manager Lance Johnson will work with the federal nonprofit Trust for Public Land to negotiate and expedite purchases of beach property for the public’s benefit.
That latest step in Destin’s beach acquisition initiative received the City Council’s unanimous approval Tuesday.
City officials want to buy one or more beach parcels in the Crystal Beach area in order to expand the city’s limited amount of public beach. They have been looking at various parcels that stand between Henderson Beach State Park and the Okaloosa County-owned James Lee Park and range in price from several million to more than $15 million.
The Trust for Public Land will serve as an independent third party in the property negotiations. The Trust operates off of donations from land owners, and the city will not incur any direct cost for partnering with the organization, according to city information.
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City Manager Lance Johnson recommended Kate Brown, the senior project manager at the Trust’s Tallahassee office who has been spearheading the development of Capt. Leonard Destin Park, to serve as the city’s beach acquisition manager.
“From staff’s perspective, this is probably our safest and best bet to get the most bang for our buck,” Johnson said about partnering with the Trust.
Mayor Gary Jarvis agreed.
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Having someone from the local real-estate community serve as the acquisition manager “would cause wailing and gnashing of teeth,” Jarvis said. “This is a big deal. We’re talking about millions of dollars. I’m a big proponent of using the Trust.”
County officials have agreed to provide $6.5 million in county bed-tax money to the beach acquisition initiative.
And on Tuesday, the council agreed to earmark 75% of the city’s overall share of local option half-cent sales tax money for beach acquisition.
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The city’s projected revenue over the remaining nine years of the 10-year tax is $12.8 million. Of that, $9.6 million will be set aside for beach land purchases.
In addition, Destin officials are seeking $10 million to $12 million in Triumph Gulf Coast funding for the initiative.
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