Posted on December 14, 2020
DESTIN — Sand that is planned to be dredged from the U.S. Coast Guard boat basin and access channel near the Marler Bridge in early 2021 should be placed by the city’s O’Steen Public Beach Access and finger jetty area, the City Council decided Monday.
Some Destin council members said sand is needed more in that spot than at Norriego Point Beach Access and Park. The latter location had been suggested by the Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard boat basin, on the west end of the bridge, has accumulated a substantial amount of sand since the basin was last dredged in 2014, according to Deputy City Manager Webb Warren.
“The large USCG vessels are having trouble with the engines sucking up sand in the shallow basin,” Warren said in a report to the council. “This becomes a maintenance issue and has the potential to affect USCG availability to respond to emergencies in the local area.”
As part of an estimated two-month-long dredging project expected to begin next March, the Coast Guard and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had asked whether the city would allow a potential 3,000 to 10,000 cubic yards of sand dredged from the boat basin and access channel to be placed on the western and northern portions of Norriego Point.
The request represented an opportunity to add sand to the point at no cost to the city, City Manager Lance Johnson told the council. Some of the sand could help shore up an eroded harbor-side part of the point, he said.
According to Warren’s report, the sand to be dredged has been tested to be high-quality.
Councilman Dewey Destin, however, said during Monday’s meeting that a core sample of the sand shows it is “not exactly pearly white.” He added that the city would be a “laughing stock” if the sand doesn’t match the white color of Norriego Point’s existing sand.
“I appreciate their offer and I appreciate the Coast Guard, but I don’t want to take that chance” with possibly dark sand, Destin said.
Councilwoman Prebble Ramswell later made a motion to authorize the placement of the dredged sand by the O’Steen Public Beach Access and finger jetty area, both of which stand on the east side of the East Pass.
“O’Steen Beach Access (currently) leads to almost no beach access,” Ramswell said. “It’s been eroded out.”
Councilman Johnny King noted that the sand to be dredged is worth from $90,000 to $300,000.
Councilman Rodney Braden said he dove by the finger jetty last year and that, while there is no emergency need for sand at Norriego Point, the need is great by the finger jetty.
A Coast Guard official told the council the dredging project is in the permit stage and that, overall, the Coast Guard is looking to put the sand in a beneficial place.
In response from a question from Destin, Warren said the city staff would check the color of the sand to be dredged and make sure it’s white enough to match the sand at the O’Steen access and the finger jetty area.
Ramswell’s motion to authorize the placement of sand in those areas was approved with a 6-1 vote. Destin cast the lone “no” vote.
In other business Monday, the council approved the first reading of a proposed ordinance that calls for amending the city charter by adding a prohibition on the conveyance, sale, lease or other transfer of interest in a city park without supermajority approval of the council.
A supermajority vote would require approval by five of the seven voting council members.
The proposed ordinance also would provide for a referendum on the proposed charter amendment at a special election March 9. The possible amendment would take effect only with voters’ majority approval.
The council could vote Dec. 21 on whether to issue final approval to the proposed ordinance.