Okaloosa to add more parking to 2 boat ramps in Fort Walton Beach

On Tuesday morning, the Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners agreed to purchase two pieces of property in Fort Walton Beach to add more parking to two boat ramps.

The first property is adjacent to the boat ramp off of Rickey Avenue in Fort Walton Beach.

The County currently owns a long, narrow, water front parcel that was acquired in the 1950’s that allows access to Garnier Bayou.

  • The parcel is twenty (20) feet wide and has a boat ramp that is well utilized.
  • Due to the limited width of the parcel, parking of vehicles or boat trailers blocks access and the area becomes congested.
  • Those using the ramp are also parking along the right-of-way.

The County was made aware of a parcel available for purchase adjacent to the boat ramp. The 0.58 acre available parcel is across Ricky Avenue NE just south of the access.

The County will use that parcel for parking for the boat ramp.

“For those who do not live on the water, the need to have a place to unload a boat and to get into the water is important,” said Chairwoman Carolyn Ketchel. “This is a great opportunity.”

“Our constituency is just clamoring to have some way to get their boats in the water,” she continued. “The only real place that we have in the southend is Cinco Bayou.”

According to Butch Hendrick, Facility and Park Maintenance Director for Okaloosa County, additional space for parking will alleviate the congestion along the right-of-way and within the twenty foot access to the boat ramp.

The purchase will be contingent upon a favorable appraisal for the asking price of $350,000.

The second property is adjacent to the boat ramp on Water Street.

  • The sixty (60) foot right-of-way has minimal space for parking vehicles and boat trailers to utilize the boat ramp.
  • The property being acquired is a 0.16 acre parcel.

“Additional space for a turnaround and stormwater will alleviate the congestion along the rightof-way to the boat ramp,” said Hendrick. “The proposed parcel has existing structures that will be demolished and existing trees will be evaluated before removal to keep the lot aesthetically pleasing but allow for optimal usable space.”

The existing property owner has requested some conditions for the purchase:

  • Relocate the location of the location of the “No Wake Zone” south of the current boat ramp
  • Address the stormwater runoff from Water Street onto the adjoining property.
  • Ensure a sign is posted prohibiting any commercial activity.
  • Light the property and maintain a safety light at the boat ramp.
  • Name the boat ramp “Helen’s Landing”/Water Street Boat Ramp.
  • Install a 6ft wooden fence along the property line in conjunction with the development of the parcel or within 24 months, whichever occurs first.

The purchase will be contingent upon a favorable appraisal for the asking price of $250,000.

“$250,000 for a vacant lot seems like a significant amount,” said Commissioner Trey Goodwin. “But I do want to point out that this is property has not been available for sale for probably 50 or 60 years. It’s a limited opportunity so I just want to explain to the public why we would be willing to invest that. We just need the space. We could actually use a little bit more, but it is what’s available.”

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