Destin now officially owns new bayside park
DESTIN — The brand new, soon-to-open Capt. Leonard Destin Park is now under city ownership.
The 3.4 acre park stands at 101 Calhoun Ave. and overlooks Choctawhatchee Bay. Working on behalf of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection about five years ago, the nonprofit Trust for Public Land used settlement money from the 2010 BP oil spill to buy the parcel with a plan to create a public park.
At Monday’s City Council meeting, Kate Brown, senior project manager at The Trust for Public Land in Florida, gave Destin officials the deed for the property.
The overall park project cost of about $10 million, paid for with oil spill settlement funds, consists of the land purchase and park development expenses, as well as more than $900,000 that the Trust will give to the city to cover 10 years worth of operating and maintenance costs.
“I’m thrilled with how it turned out, and I hope you are too,” Brown told the council.
“It’s real exciting that we’re going to have a tremendous bayside park,” Mayor Gary Jarvis said.
A soft opening of the park could occur within 10-14 days, followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony and official opening to the public, City Manager Lance Johnson said.
The park’s features include a kayak/paddle board launch, pier, fruit-tree grove, restrooms with outdoor showers, a splash pad, playground, large picnic pavilion and a parking area.
“I foresee this as being probably one of the most popular parks in town,” Johnson said. “We don’t have a splash pad in town.”
The park site was part of the homestead of Capt. Leonard Destin, who pioneered the local fishing industry and was the first person to settle in Destin in the mid-19th century.
An information board at the park tells of how Leonard Destin came to settle in the community that would eventually be named after him. The park also features a replica of a historical seine boat that earlier fishermen used.
Leonard Destin was the great- great- great-grandfather of Councilman Parker Destin, who on Monday made the motion to accept the property deed transfer.
The council unanimously approved the motion, which also called for staff to obtain an owner’s title insurance policy for the land in the amount of $5 million.