City leaders agree to remove parking, roadway from Norriego Point management plan

Matt Algarin

Whether it’s a roadway, a pavilion or a parking lot, one thing is clear, some residents and council members don’t want anything on Norriego Point.

"There are just some things, some parts of this beautiful country, beautiful city that ought to be kept in their natural condition, pristine condition," said Attorney John Connell, who is representing owners at East Pass Towers II. "It seems to me there are compelling reasons we can make to DEP and to NRDA as to why this spit of land should be kept in its natural state. There are just some places that don't need to be built on."

During Monday night's City Council meeting, city leaders once again talked about the Norriego Point Land Management Plan, which would call for the city to make various improvements to the continually eroding city park.

The conceptual improvements would include the addition of park features such as interpretive signage, restroom facilities and pavilion, complete with parking and some type of roadway to connect to the neighboring property -- Galic-Pointe, LLC, as well as a full stabilization of the point.

The entire project would carry an $8 million-plus price tag, which ideally would be funded through the Natural Resources Damage Assessment program to which the city has already submitted an application. The plan has already been submitted for NRDA funding.

As part of the development order for the Galic-Pointe property, a roadway and roundabout would be constructed to connect the new project, once it moves forward, with the existing public parking area, allowing motorists to access the development. The roadway would be located on a 100-foot city right of way.

Based on the conceptual plan, the city's proposed pavilion area is only a short distance from the edge of the Galic-Pointe, LLC property, so some type of roadway, path or trail would be needed to move pedestrian traffic from the parking to the pavilion.

In his first year as a councilman, Tuffy Dixon told his colleagues that he has had more phone calls and talked to more people about this issue than any other since he was elected.

"There is a major, major concern about building any kind of road, and there is some concern about restroom facilities there on that piece of property," Dixon said.

Longtime Destin resident, boat captain and current County Commissioner Kelly Windes echoed the same sentiment.

"I'm all about protecting that point," he said. "I'd like to find a way to do it without any more asphalt, concrete and roofs, but I don't know if we can."

Based on the evening's conversation, Councilman Jim Bagby, who has been outspoken on the issue, made a motion to approve the long-range management plan for Norriego

Point as it had already been submitted, except the parking lot and roadway on the city's portion of the point would be removed.

"My hope for coming here tonight is that we would come to some type of compromise on the management plan that we could all support, even though we might not all like it," he said. "I'm begging you to take the parking and the road off of our portion of Norriego Point."

When it came time for city leaders to vote, they agreed to approve Bagby's motion with a 6-0 vote, as Councilman Larry Williges wasn't in attendance.

At the end of the day, Bagby said the vote could be chalked up to a number of factors, but he said the most important was probably the council's desire to work together for a common goal.

"The spirit of compromise and the spirit of Christmas were there," he said.