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Liza Jackson Park Boat Launch and Parking Expansion plans making progress, new design

The City of Fort Walton Beach is advancing plans to overhaul and expand the boat launch and parking areas at Liza Jackson Park. At their February 28 meeting, the City […]

New Liza Jackson Park design by JDF Architecture

The City of Fort Walton Beach is advancing plans to overhaul and expand the boat launch and parking areas at Liza Jackson Park. At their February 28 meeting, the City Council approved $27,900 to hire architecture firm JDF Architecture to design the upgrades. 

  • The project is being done in partnership with Okaloosa County, who has earmarked $1 million towards improving waterfront access using tourism funds.

According to City Councilmember Travis Smith, who has been advocating for better waterfront access, the council’s strategic planning sessions identified Liza Jackson as a prime location to make improvements. 

New Liza Jackson Park design by JDF Architecture

The preliminary design calls for a complete reconfiguration of the boat launch area and to expand the parking lot east to allow for more boat spaces. Currently, there are 35 boat parking spaces and 60 vehicle spaces on the west side of Liza Jackson. The new design calls for:

  • 60 vehicle parking spaces
  • 18 40 ft boat parking spaces
  • 38 50 ft boat parking spaces
New Liza Jackson Park design by JDF Architecture

The boat launch itself would be expanded with a new extended dock and angled staging area dock to improve traffic flow for boats launching and loading. Other planned improvements include new bathrooms, pavilions, and other amenities.

New Liza Jackson Park design by JDF Architecture

The enhancements build on repairs and upgrades done in late 2021 after portions of the boardwalk, pier and boat launch were damaged by Hurricane Sally. A new kayak launch was added at the same time.

  • Councilmember Smith said community input will be key to finalizing the best possible design, stating “I would like some input on this specific location and design to see what we may have missed that could make this even better for our community.”

Funding for the Liza Jackson Park improvements will come from multiple sources, including the county’s half-cent sales tax and the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency budget.

New Liza Jackson Park design by JDF Architecture

5 Responses

  1. Please make sure to raise the ground level with fill & new sod because much of the ground was washed away during Hurricane Opal and never replaced. The grassy areas are ALWAYS moist & mushy and not nice for playing or picnics.

  2. Would be nice if the bathrooms would be open 24 hours for those who return late night from fishing or night cruises. The other problem is safety and security. The homeless population that stays at the park overnight are not always the friendliest. Makes for an unwelcoming environment.

  3. From looking at the concept drawing it appears that “improving” the park means taking out a good many of the pine trees that make the park such a lovely place. Really, reducing the green and expanding the asphalt is an improvement? 60 more parking spaces!!? Must EVERYTHING always be about money? I’ve walked this park particularly in the evening when it is so peaceful and beautiful with a gentle breeze stirring thru the trees, sometimes you can hear an owl calling. Aren’t there enough boat launches around here already? I say leave the park the way it is!

  4. I know I’m late to this party but I agree with Cliff. We don’t need more pavement, we need more trees. I’m not opposed to creating a loop for boat traffic and extending the dock but this plan is beyond excessive. Families frequently use this green space for picnics, field trips, birthday parties etc. That boat ramp is never full and there is plenty of parking available in the lot on the east. We have already allowed too much destruction of the things that made our city beautiful in the first place. Let’s not ruin the few good things we have left.

  5. Looks great! We use the boat launch often and it’s very crowded during season. The biggest issue we have now is the vehicle parking right across from the boat/trailer parking…makes for difficult maneuvering of a vehicle towing a trailer. There has to be sufficient space between the boat/trailer parking spots that are across from each other. It takes a good amount of space to back up a boat with trailer attached. Hard to tell if the design allows for that. While it is a park enjoyed by picnickers and boaters alike, there is plenty of space (and trees) to make it work for everyone.

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