Norriego Point project making progress

Heather Osbourne | 315-4440 | @heatheronwfdn |

DESTIN — Locals can expect to see large barges filling the water near Norriego Point after Thanksgiving as the next stage of the stabilization and restoration project begins.

Norriego Point construction crews are installing sheet piling in preparation for the placement of stone, which will be brought in by barge from Louisiana in December.

Pearce Barrett, natural resources damage assessment project coordinator for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, said the large barges will be used to lay a foundation on the floor of East Pass. Additional barges will be used to transport material to the construction site.

Officials plan to stabilize the point to its pre-Hurricane Opal profile. That storm hit the area in September 1995.

“The first phase will restore approximately 5.4 acres at the northern end of Norriego Point,” Barrett said.

In February, crews will dredge sand that will be placed landward of the sheet piling and stone. The sand is what will restore Norriego Point, Barrett said.

Norriego Point’s recreation area currently is 7.6 acres. When the first phase is completed, the recreation area will encompass 13 acres. The first phase should be completed by summer.

The second phase of the project, which will focus on dune restoration, is set to start in the fall of 2018. This phase will include the planting of about 28,000 square feet of sea oats, which will help stabilize the dunes and provide habitat and a food source for birds and other wildlife, according to the FDEP.

The last phase will add recreational amenities and is also scheduled to begin in fall 2018. Bids will be put out later for the second and final phases, which do not yet have definitive completion dates.

Plans for the final phase include an access road, restrooms, showers, a drinking fountain, trails, boardwalks, dune crossovers, a viewing pavilion, educational environmental signage and more parking.

“This project will also provide access for people of all physical abilities,” Barrett said.

The entire project will cost about $12 million, which will be paid for by the Deep Water Horizon oil spill settlement money.

Destin Mayor Scott Fischer said in a recent statement that he believes the stabilization of Norriego Point will provide the protection the Destin Harbor "desperately needs," so that it may continue to be a source of "economic vitality and community pride."

“Norriego Point is vital to our harbor and our harbor is vital to our fishing industry, which is what sets us apart from other coastal communities in Florida,"  Fischer said.