'It's huge': City expects to secure permit for Norriego Point stabilization in coming weeks

Matt Algarin
Once the city of Destin receives its joint coastal permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, initial plans call for approximately 8,000-cubic yards of sand to fill in the area breached at the western-most T-groin along Norriego Point.

If all goes as planned, the city of Destin should soon have the paperwork in place to begin its long-awaited stabilization of Norriego Point.

"We've answered all of the questions and comments from the DEP," said Steve Schmidt, development manager for the city of Destin. "This gives us the permit we need to do the entire project, even if we decide to go with a phased process."

Once the city receives the permit, which is a joint permit from the state of Florida and the federal government, Schmidt said the city would more than likely move forward with "phase one" of the stabilization plan, which would fill in the sand between the western-most T-groin that has been breached.

As part of the initial phase, the city will move roughly 8,000-cubic yards of sand from the Galic Pointe property, where it had been stored on Norriego Point after an emergency dredging project in June, to the T-groin. Crews would also install sheet pile walls for added stability.

"This would definitely help to alleviate some of the erosion we've seen along the tip of the point," Schmidt said.

While repairing the T-groin would be a "relatively inexpensive fix" to start with, ideally Schmidt said the city would like to complete the entire stabilization project at one time due to costs. The project would have to be put to bid to get a solid finalized cost, but estimates show the project carrying a price tag between $8-9 million.

The city currently has two permitted options for the stabilization of Norriego Point. One would be a rock-heavy design, while the other is a combination of rock and sheet pile walls.

"Both alternatives give us flexibility," Schmidt said. "But neither option is going to come without long-term maintenance."

A joint coastal permit is required for projects that take place on sandy beaches facing the Gulf of Mexico, projects that extend seaward of the mean high water line, extend into sovereign submerged lands, or that affect the distribution of sand along the beach. The permit is then reviewed by Florida Fish & Wildlife, the Army Corps of Engineers, The Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies

Schmidt told The Log that "all interested parties" have a chance to review the permit before it's approved.

"It's quite comprehensive," he said.

With the permit expected to be secured in the next few weeks, Schmidt said "it's huge" news for the city of Destin, as it allows the city to stabilize Norriego Point, which has been eroding at a continually quick pace for years.

"It's one of the reasons we've had to stockpile sand, since we couldn't put it directly on the water without this permit," he said. "We've got about 8,000-cubic yards of sand and we'd love to use it."