At Monday night’s City Council meeting, the topic of the concrete barriers and 10ft fencing that we now see as we head over the Marler Bridge and into Destin was brought up for discussion.
Now, City officials plan to ask County Commissioner Mel Ponder for help in resolving this issue along with Mayor Gary Jarvis.
Background: The popular East Pass Beach Area was closed by 96th Test Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Scott Cain back in May 2020 due to illegal commercial activity happening on the federal property, along with trash being dumped and parking issues.
- As Council-member Teresa Hebert noted, “he [General] doesn’t want to deal with the vagrancy, the needles and dirty diapers that he found and his people had to clean up. During the pandemic he didn’t have the people to clean it, so he said I got the money to put the fencing up and concrete.”
Areas of concern included:
- Incompatible and unsafe blend of beach goers and moving vessels along the shoreline.
- Illegal and unsafe vehicular traffic: Traveling the wrong direction on the shoulder of U.S. Highway 98.
- Lack of adequate parking control: vehicles parking on the shoulder of U.S. 98 and EPBA
- Illegal commercial activity taking place by water-bound vendors
- Inability to fund adequate solutions to safety and liability issues
➡️ At first, cones were placed along the road but that didn’t stop beachgoers from getting around them. Then, the concrete barriers were added and now we see the fencing being erected.
“It gives Destin a black eye,” said Council-member Rodney Braden. The rest of the council agreed.
After a suggestion from Council-member Dewey Destin to work with Commissioner Ponder for help with the matter, it was decided that Mayor Gary Jarvis would speak directly to General Cain about the property and work alongside Commissioner Ponder to see what the base would need to feel comfortable to open the property back up for public use.
- “The things that the Commander needed can be funded through TDC money,” said Council-member Destin. “The extra enforcement and the clean-up, those are all things that we can do in conjunction with the county and if we have to have a little skin in the game we can do that.”
“Commissioner Ponder is a tremendous leader and representative of our community and I think between me and him we can have that discussion with the commander and then we’ll come up with some solutions,” Jarvis said. “I think the feeling of this council is that the fence is not tenable and that we would like some other types of options to be presented, and we’re willing to put some skin in the game in the process.”
Jarvis added that he would be reaching out to Commissioner Ponder on Tuesday with a message to setup a meeting on General Cain.