Local man says stretch of Commons Drive not ADA compliant

Matt Algarin
This portion of Commons Drive, where the YMCA and Grace Lutheran Church are located, does not have sidewalks, which Paul Voigt says makes it difficult for him to traverse the area in his wheelchair.

With his wheelchair serving as transportation, Paul Voigt would like to see sidewalks along the north side of Commons Drive near the YMCA.

"It's dangerous, I have to ride in the street to get by," he told The Log. "It's not ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant."

The area posing problems for Voigt is between The Home Depot and the currently under construction Venue Emerald Coast apartments, where there is nothing more than a gravel trail in front of the YMCA and Grace Lutheran Church.

Traveling along Commons Drive, there is a sidewalk that extends from the roundabout at the Triumph Road intersection, but it quickly ends at the YMCA property, which is owned by the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation. The sidewalk doesn't pick back up until one reaches the Venue Emerald Coast property.

The south side of Commons Drive in this area does have sidewalks from the roundabout that terminates directly across from the Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village, but there are no crosswalks for a pedestrian to travel from the north side of the roadway to the south side at the roundabout.

City Engineer David Campbell said that projects in Destin are required to construct sidewalks for pedestrian traffic, but since this area falls outside of city jurisdiction, the city's hands are tied.

"It would definitely be nice to put a sidewalk there," he said.

Commons Drive is maintained by Okaloosa County, and County Engineer Jason Autry told The Log that Okaloosa County has no requirements for sidewalks to be installed. He did say that Okaloosa County does work with the Florida Department of Transportation to identify areas where sidewalks may be needed.

Autry also added that the area where the gravel path is located is not in county-owned right of way and is on private property, which also means there are no regulations for the path to be ADA compliant.

This is not the first time that Voigt has brought up a possible ADA issue in the city of Destin. In 2012, Voigt threatened legal action over a portion of the harbor boardwalk that was uneven. The area in question was eventually fixed.