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Destin’s $12 million improvement project for Joe’s Bayou Recreation Area and Mattie Kelly Park

On Thursday, February 23, 2023, the City of Destin hosted a workshop at City Hall to discuss the Joe’s Bayou Recreation Area and Mattie Kelly Park and Nature Walk Improvement […]

Rendering of the proposed improvements to the Joe's Bayou Recreation Area and Mattie Kelly Park and Nature Walk (City of Destin)

On Thursday, February 23, 2023, the City of Destin hosted a workshop at City Hall to discuss the Joe’s Bayou Recreation Area and Mattie Kelly Park and Nature Walk Improvement Project. The project aims to enhance public access and recreational opportunities at the site.

  • The project budget of $12,202,891 will be provided through the NRDA Final Restoration Plan RP-1. The funding includes administration, engineering, and construction costs.

The project includes a range of improvements to the site, including improved access to the boat ramp area, rehabilitation and expansion of parking areas, improvements to the nature trails and viewing areas, wetland enhancement, and pond restoration. Other improvements include the construction of a stone breakwater and the replacement and improvement of the existing fishing pier.

According to the project plans, the site will feature a new boat trailer parking lot with 64 spaces, a mooring dock, and a loading and unloading zone. The project will also include new restrooms with four total stalls and staff office, a staff pavilion, a large picnic pavilion, and smaller picnic pavilions. The site will have new signage, bike racks, and trash enclosures.

Rendering of the proposed improvements to the Joe’s Bayou Recreation Area and Mattie Kelly Park and Nature Walk (City of Destin)

The project aims to enhance shoreline access, with the construction of new boardwalks connecting to the fishing pier, shoreline seating along Beach Dr., shoreline boardwalks with seating, and extended shoreline access.

As part of the project, there will be raised speed control crossing humps with crossing signage, speed warning lights, and no anchoring buoys. Existing site parking of approximately 25 spaces will be retained.

One of the biggest changes that we could see on the design is a decrease in parking spaces. Based on initial data discussed last night, there are approximately 20 days out of the year where the park is at max-capacity. Many residents said they would like more greenspace and possibly a playground. 

  • One idea discussed on Thursday night was to have more greenspace that could be used as additional parking during those peak times throughout the season.

Another topic for the park is making it more dog-friendly. As it currently stands, it is an on-leash park but residents have expressed the desire to have areas where their dogs can be off-leash, such as the water. 

The design plans are part of the 30% First Draft phase and are likely to change or be tweaked based on the feedback and recommendations from council and residents. The 30% Draft Two design plans could be presented to council during an upcoming meeting in March.

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Community Comments

“1B................Let FWB grow.”
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“Amazing article!!! Jared Williams is an incredible writer and this article captures the incredible things happening in our community! Thank you Jared! Linda Dugan”
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“Awesome... The kind of people, that need a safe, affordable home for themselves and their families, without your judgment. .”
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“Curious who is funding Gregg Chapel so he can build cheap housing here. Curious what kind of residents he looking for to move here.”
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“This is extremely upsetting. I hope the parents of this young man sees this as a " Cry for Help" and move forward in getting him evaluated., into counseling with...”
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“Will the Hurlburt golf course be open?”
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“I really think this is a great idea. My only concern is what is planned at the base of the Destin bridge. I am not a proponent of any development...”
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“Traffic signals have a definite limit to how many cars an hour can pass under them. The signal system downtown has been beyond capacity since 1990. To increase capacity additional...”
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