The “Gateway to Crystal Beach” Slated to Become a Reality

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Catherine CardBy Catherine Card, Public Information Manager, City of Destin

The “Gateway to Crystal Beach” is now on its way to becoming a reality thanks to the partnership between the City of Destin, the Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners, the Tourist Development Council and Trust for Public Land. Elected officials, city and county staff, members of the public and media, participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for the Shore at Crystal Beach Park Expansion in April.

“This initiative is one of the highest priorities for the City of Destin. Our tourist tax dollars are being reinvested back into public beaches so that we can deliver on the promise of the Destin brand and meet the expectations of our residents and visitors,” stated Mayor Gary Jarvis. “We recognize the desire for more beach access,” said Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners Chairman, Carolyn Ketchel. “Through this acquisition and partnership, we can accommodate the need for our community to enjoy the beaches year-round.”

The City of Destin has pledged $9,000,000 and Okaloosa County $13,000,000 for potential beach acquisitions to expand beach access in Destin. The Trust for Public Land, which the City of Destin has partnered with to aid in the process, has negotiated to purchase three properties adjacent to the Shore of Crystal Beach Park. Two have closed with a third pending. The combined cost of these acquisitions is $10.6 Million plus some ancillary closing costs which are (estimated under $50,000). Funding for the initial set of acquisitions is proposed to be funded with the following ratio: 59% County ($6.28+ Million) and 41% City ($4.37- Million), based on the dollars pledged by the city and the county. The County’s funding comes from the tourism bed tax dollars while the City’s comes from ½ cent sales tax dollars.

Due to the hard work and partnership between the entities listed above, the groundbreaking ceremony was the first step in creating more access to public beaches for residents and visitors. Following demolition, the partners will fine-tune park elements. Completion of the project is anticipated for the main 2022 tourism season. For videos and photos of the groundbreaking, please visit https://www.facebook.com/cityofdestin.