'Imagining a better Destin': Alliance aims to change the perception of Main Street

Matt Algarin
This empty space behind the American Legion on Main Street will soon become a community garden thanks to the volunteer efforts of the Main Street Betterment Alliance and the Legion.

As one of the organizers behind the Main Street Betterment Alliance, Ron Sandstead says dedicated citizens and business owners are working hard to make a difference along Main Street.

"I've never been the community activist type, but we are having a lot of fun so far," he told The Log. "We want to change the perception of Main Street through a mix of projects and events."

The recently formed business alliance, which meets at the American Legion every Tuesday night at 6 p.m., has a mission to "create an environment that attracts economic development, promotes a favorable business and social climate, and helps maintain the vitality and integrity of Main Street and the surrounding area."

Initial plans call for the group to beautify Main Street and Airport Road by planting trees and flowers in the medians, hanging banners created by local artists and school children from light posts, placing benches and trash cans, and sponsoring "clean up and fix up" events that would improve the appearance of buildings along the roadway.

"We've got to make Main Street more attractive, more people friendly," Sandstead told The Log. "Things are falling into place and people are really stepping up."

Advocating for changes to the city's current sign ordinance is another priority of the Main Street Betterment Alliance.

Ideally, the group would like to fly advertising "feathers" in the Town Center CRA, allow for yard sale signs on the weekends, install directional signs that point to local businesses and retail stores, and have an advertising banner that promotes events over the roadway.

"My hope is that the community garden really takes off and we can have them throughout Destin," he said. "It's our flagship."

Other events, such as a 5k Run/Walk, a Veteran's Day Parade and a car show are in the works.

If you have ideas or suggestions for the Main Street Betterment Alliance, Sandstead said the group would be more than willing to listen. They currently have a website and Facebook page under construction, but can be reached by calling Sandstead at 850-974-9616.

"This is our town and we do not have to accept it as it is; we can change it," Sandstead said. "Our only limitation is our imagination. Once we are able to imagine what can be, we will start wanting it to happen. This is where we are now. We are imagining a better Destin."


The Main Street Betterment Alliance’s main project at the moment is the creation of a community garden, which would be located behind the American Legion on Main Street. They are currently working with the team at Coastline Tree Service, who has offered to clear the lot at no charge. The groundbreaking event will be held Sept. 11 at 8 a.m.