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Fort Walton Beach to explore ferry system from The Landing Park to Okaloosa Island Boat Basin 

The Fort Walton Beach City Council unanimously voted to explore a ferry route between The Landing Park in downtown and the new Okaloosa Island Boat Basin at its Tuesday meeting.  […]

This is just a map showing the two potential ferry drop-off and pick-up locations. This is not official.

The Fort Walton Beach City Council unanimously voted to explore a ferry route between The Landing Park in downtown and the new Okaloosa Island Boat Basin at its Tuesday meeting. 

Mayor Dick Rynearson brought up the water ferry topic for discussion, having originated from Destin Mayor Bobby Wagner last month. Details on the ferry system remained vague, other than transporting passengers across Choctawhatchee Bay.

In November, the Destin City Council voted to contribute funding to a study on a proposed ferry system between Destin and Fort Walton Beach.

  • The council approved $12,786 toward a $51,144 feasibility study on the ferry system. Destin funding was contingent on the Fort Walton Beach City Council contributing $12,786 and the Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners contributing $25,572. 

The FWB Council agreed not to spend any taxpayer funds on exploring ferries. But several members supported designating potential landing zones to gauge private sector interest.

Councilman Travis Smith said he would only back designating pick-up and drop-off spots for licensed charter companies, but nothing further.

“The free market is a great thing for a reason, because if there’s demand for it, somebody will be doing it,” Smith said. “Nobody’s doing it right now.”

Councilman David Schmidt motioned for city staff to work with Okaloosa County officials to develop a basic scope for a ferry route between The Landing and the new boat basin on Okaloosa Island.

The motion passed unanimously following clarification that no money was being committed. Supporters saw it as a way to get private companies’ input on a short Fort Walton-Okaloosa Island route’s viability, without dedicating any city funds.

  • “I’d like to find out,” Schmidt said of private sector interest. “And if there’s none, we’re not out of a bunch of money.”

The city council declined to explore a Destin-Fort Walton route or spend money on any feasibility studies between the two cities across Choctawhatchee Bay.

Members said the private sector could pursue and self-fund a Destin-related ferry if market demand exists, without city involvement. But for now, the council will focus its efforts on an Okaloosa Island-Fort Walton route.

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Community Comments

“Would like to know this as well.”
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“This is Awesome/ Thank You for Your Service Reuse an Recycle”
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“Carolyn, there is two of them this year, the one at the fairgrounds is still on the 27th”
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“I thought this was scheduled for April 27th at Fair grounds in FWB.”
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“Is there a limit on the amount?”
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“Couldn’t the tennis courts be used for Pickle Ball Courts?”
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“How come we haven't heard about any charges or anything about the person who hit this lady ?”
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“Stayed at the Calypso resort last week. Overran with immaturity. Teens were throwing beer bottles from the balcony and dog shit while kids were swimming in the pools below.”
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