City of Destin to host ribbon cutting, grand opening ceremony of Captain Leonard Destin Park

Special to The Destin Log/USA TODAY NETWORK
The city of Destin will host a ribbon cutting May 13 to mark the grand opening of Captain Leonard Destin Park at 101 Calhoun Ave.

DESTIN — The mayor, City Council, staff and special guests will host a ribbon cutting and grand opening of Captain Leonard Destin Park at 10 a.m. May 13.

The park is named after the founder of Destin, who came from New London, Connecticut, in the mid-1800s to establish a fishing village along the Florida Gulf Coast. It is located on the same plot of land as the original homestead of its namesake at 101 Calhoun Ave. 

“The allure of East Pass that brought Leonard Destin here almost 200 years ago still exists today, it’s why each of us has chosen Destin to be our home. Six generations after Leonard built his homestead here, I’m beyond privileged to be a part of the city’s efforts to preserve a part of our shared heritage and identity in perpetuity,” former Councilman Parker Destin said.

“Captain Leonard Destin Park is a true jewel of our city that not only represents our heritage but also honors the founding of the commercial fishing industry, which is very much a part of our livelihood today," Mayor Gary Jarvis said. "We are excited to have this world class park for all to enjoy.”

In 2015, The Trust for Public Land purchased the 3.42-acre property with Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment early restoration funds with a vision to create a park for the public, provide public access to the water and help preserve the history of the community.

“Outdoor spaces like Captain Leonard Destin Park offer opportunities for outdoor recreation, improve public access to Florida’s natural resources and celebrate the unique character and history of Florida’s communities,” said Noah Valenstein, secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. “Immersion in Florida’s natural beauty and increased educational opportunities creates generations of Floridians who will protect and perpetuate Florida’s way of life.”

In August 2020, The Trust for Public Land transferred the property the city along with operations and maintenance funds for 10 years.

“We were thrilled to work with FL DEP and the city of Destin to create this unique and beautiful park for all to enjoy,” stated Kate Brown, senior project manager for The Trust for Public Land.

The park includes an accessible beach area, boardwalk, playground, bathrooms, a splash pad, pavilions, dock and paddleboard/kayak launch. The park is also home to a heron rookery along with educational signage highlighting over 150 years of history and natural features of the park.

The public is invited to attend and follow social distancing guidelines.