Pavilion falls under pressure near the Crab Trap in Destin

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

If you've driven along Scenic Highway 98 this week to catch a glimpse of the Emerald green water, you might have noticed one of the pavilions near the Crab Trap at James Lee Park had fallen in.

The boardwalk, pavilions and the Crab Trap are maintained by the Saltwater Restaurant Company. In recent weeks the company has been reroofing all the pavilions as well as the restaurant, according to Clint Rogers, director of operations for Saltwater and general manger of the Crab Trap.

"The problem we had with the pavilion at the (far east) end, the roofing company stacked all the new shingles and new things on the top of it. And then it rained and all that extra weight and supplies on the roof, due to the rain ... made it fall down," Rogers said Tuesday afternoon on the boardwalk.

Maintenance men were tearing down the remains of a pavilion at James Lee Park in Destin on Tuesday afternoon. The pavilion fell because of extra weight on the roof.

"So we're rebuilding that one, and reinforcing all the pavilions where there is some potential problems," Rogers said.

The Crab Trap has been at the park since 1991 and originally was built at ground level.

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But after Hurricane Opal destroyed the restaurant in 1995, it was rebuilt on pilings 18-feet up.

In 2004, Hurricane Ivan took out the boardwalk and the beach bar, Rogers said. The following year, Hurricane Dennis took out the pavilions and the beach bar.

"We rebuilt after each one of those," Rogers said.

Therefore, the boardwalk and pavilions are new since 2005 except for maintenance which Rogers says they try to do in the off-season — November, December and January.

The extra weight of stacks of shingles and heavy rain are thought to be the culprit in the collapse of the pavilion's roof at James Lee Park.

"There's always work to be done," said Rogers, who noted the park is always busy, especially in the summer.

"It's hard to close things off during those months, so we use these shoulder months to build and reinforce things," he said.

The roof fell in on the pavilion sometime Sunday night or early Monday.

The roof of a pavilion at the east end of James Lee Park in Destin collapsed late Sunday or early Monday.

"We were replacing the roof anyway," Rogers said.

"They just stacked all the supplies on top and the extra weight and rain made that happen," he repeated.

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Maintenance workers were out Tuesday morning tearing down the pavilion.

"We're working nonstop to try and get it back open as soon as possible ... and we'll be reinforcing everything as well," Rogers added.

While construction work was going on at the pavilions, folks were dining on the back deck of the Crab Trap Tuesday afternoon.

As for the other three pavilions at the park, the roofs are all new.

"There are some minor things we are still doing to reinforce, but the roofs are all new," said Rogers, who has overseen the park since 2001.