Officials to mark completion of beach restoration in west Destin

Kari C. Barlow | Northwest Florida Daily News

For the first time in years, the beaches of Holiday Isle are overflowing with sugar-white sand.

The wider and taller shoreline is the result of the recently completed West Destin Beach Restoration project.

“It’s an amazing project,” Destin Mayor Sam Seevers said Wednesday. “It just speaks volumes about the partnerships we have between the city and the county and the residents.”

Destin and Okaloosa County officials will celebrate the project’s completion at 10 a.m. Friday at Jetty East Condominium Resort.

“This is a model project for any beach restoration in the United States of America,” Seevers said. “This is how it should be done.”

The restoration cost just under its projected $8 million price tag. It was funded with Okaloosa County bed tax revenue generated by a Municipal Service Benefit Unit assessed on homeowners on Holiday Isle.

The project placed about 650,000 cubic yards of new sand on a 1.7-mile stretch of beach that had been repeatedly worn away by storms. Because of legal obstacles, the restoration skipped areas in front of several single-family homes and condos, including Oceania.

“That area was all critically eroded,” said Jim Trifilio, coastal management coordinator for the county’s Tourist Development Council. “Now they have a nice beach. They have plenty of room.”

At Jetty East, which has seen severe beach erosion for years, guests now can enjoy volleyball.

“We can put beach chairs out. We can even put volleyball nets out,” said Lucky Stepp, association manager at Jetty East. “Before, there was no way.”

Stepp said the restoration has been good for business.

“Our sales have already gone up and our bookings for June and July have already gone up,” said Stepp, who added that the condo’s website has added a live webcam to show off the improvement. “The color is great. It’s sandy white, just like the rest of the beach.”

Stepp said he is especially excited about a 14-foot berm built near Jetty East’s pavilion.

Trifilio said the proximity of the new sand to the east jetty also will help.

“The fact that it’s up against the eastern jetty, that jetty kind of locks that sand in there,” he said. “The sand is always going to move around … but having that backstop of a jetty is going to help stabilize that area.”

He said west Destin’s beaches are better prepared for hurricane season that begins June 1, and likened the restoration to a motorcycle helmet.

“The motorcycle helmet is supposed to get destroyed when you’re in an accident,” Trifilio said. “It absorbs the energy so your head doesn’t. It’s the same with the beach. The beach takes the brunt of the energy so the upland structures don’t have to.”