Destin Council supports fire substation at Clement Taylor Park
DESTIN — With a unanimous vote, the City Council on Monday approved the first reading of an ordinance that would allow the Destin Fire Control District to lease a small part of Clement Taylor Park for a planned fire substation.
The city-owned park is at 131 Calhoun Ave., next to Choctawhatchee Bay. With final approval, the district would move ahead with its plan to build the substation on a 0.15-acre piece of land on the park’s southeast corner.
The potential lease includes $1 in annual rent paid by the district to the city for an initial 20-year term. The council plans to consider whether to adopt the ordinance and finalize the lease June 15.
Among other concerns, city Parks and Recreation Committee member and Calhoun Avenue resident Myra Williams told the council Monday that the committee has yet to see plans for the substation.
Also, “We feel it’s unwise to use this quiet space” at the park for the planned facility, she said.
Destin resident Becky Pritchard also shared opposition to the potential substation.
“We shouldn’t lease any park property to anyone, ever,” Pritchard said. “We don’t have enough of it.”
District Commissioner Mike Buckingham said while plans for the substation have been discussed for two years, the district is waiting to secure the property lease before starting the building design.
Destin Fire Chief Kevin Sasser pointed out that the planned substation would help firefighters respond more quickly to water-rescue calls in the Gulf of Mexico, East Pass and Choctawhatchee Bay, the latter which includes Crab Island. Their current response to such calls involves leaving their main station on Airport Road and going to their vessel on the Destin Harbor.
It hasn’t been determined yet whether the district would use the existing dock or a potential new one at Clement Taylor Park, should the planned substation become a reality.
Councilman Cyron Marler sounded frustrated by some of the opposition against the possible substation.
“What disappoints me the most is we’re talking about a public-safety issue,” said Marler, who added that the need to get to a burning building or helping someone with a medical issue “supersedes the pettiness” of giving up a small part of the park.
In other business Monday, the council approved a maintenance agreement between the city and the Florida Department of Transportation required for the state to receive federal money to design and make upgrades to Airport Road’s big curve.
The curve, which has seen numerous vehicle accidents over the years, stands between Mattie M. Kelly Boulevard and Quail Circle.
The DOT-led upgrades include the installation of a high-friction surface treatment on part of the curve and the addition of a guardrail next to the curve’s westbound segment.
The DOT tentatively plans to make the improvements in July, City Manager Lance Johnson said in response to a question from Councilman Steve Menchel.
Mayor Gary Jarvis, who does not have general voting power on the council, did not attend Monday’s meeting.