Councilors say beach trash an issue in Destin

Matt Algarin
Trash being stored at the city’s public services building is a “hazard,” Councilwoman Prebble Ramswell says.

Whether it’s on the beaches or stored on city property, city leaders in Destin have an issue with the amount of trash in the city.

“We are making a garbage dump out of our city property,” Councilman Tuffy Dixon told his colleagues during Monday night’s City Council meeting. “I am not happy that we are putting garbage on our property.”

As of late, motorists and pedestrians traveling along Commons Drive may have noticed piles of trash being stored at the city’s public services building. The trash, which was collected off the city’s beaches, has been placed on the city property until it can be transported to the dump, city officials say.

City Manager Maryann Ustick told the council that Okaloosa County had originally hired a vendor to rake and clean the beaches, but they are now doing the work in-house, which has caused some issues.

“Obviously trash disposal was something that was not thought of,” she said. “In the spirit of cooperation, our staff tried to help them out.”

Although the city was trying to lend a helping hand, not everyone on the council thought it was a good idea. Councilwoman Prebble Ramswell told her colleagues that the city’s public service building and property was zoned institutional and shouldn't be used for trash storage, which could be a “hazard.”

“This is just another item that shows how ill prepared they were,” she said. “This is something they should have thought out before they took the contract.”

Ramswell also noted that the city’s beaches were not being cleaned to the “level of service” the city should expect, as trash cans are not being emptied adequately enough and the actual beach cleaning isn’t being done enough.

She said she has “personally observed” the beach cleaning crews only raking the sand a few days a week, which isn’t enough to keep the beaches that are used to draw tourists in beautiful.

“There’s multiple issues,” she said. “I’m not sure the county is handling this in a way that is feasible.”

With a unanimous vote, city leaders decided it was appropriate to reach out to the county about the issues at hand and come to an agreement on how to address the trash concerns moving forward.

“We’re not asking them for anything more than they should be doing already,” Mayor Mel Ponder said.