Walton County Tourist Development Council Workshops options for Dune Allen Beach Access

JOE PETRICH of Genesis Group comments on options for the new beach access. Conceptual plans have been developed for a new regional beach access on the 1.51-acre beachfront parcel acquired last year with Walton County Tourist Development Council (TDC) bed tax funds. Community members had the chance to look and provide input at three versions of the plans at a May 23 public workshop hosted by TDC staff at the TDC Office. (Photo by Dotty Nist)[/caption]

By DOTTY NIST
Conceptual plans have been developed for a new regional beach access on the 1.51-acre beachfront parcel acquired last year with Walton County Tourist Development Council (TDC) bed tax funds. Community members had the chance to look and provide input at three versions of the plans at a May 23 public workshop hosted by TDC staff at the TDC Office.
Located between Hilltop Drive and Woodward Drive on CR-30A in Dune Allen, the parcel is one of several properties recently acquired in various parts of south Walton County with bed tax funds for beach access and public parking.
The regional beach access property offers an extensive 220 feet of beachfront.
TDC Executive Director Jay Tusa was present at the May 23 workshop, along with a number of TDC staff members. Leading the workshop was Brian Kellenberger, TDC director of beach operations. He introduced Joe Petrich of Genesis Group, design consultants for the project.
Petrich commented on the three plan options, which were displayed on boards. The three plans are similar in overall concept, with a one-way parking scenario, entrance at the west, and a large drop-off area, he told attendees.
The plans showed elevated dune walkovers, view decks, restroom buildings, bike racks, stormwater bio-swales, and vegetative buffers next to adjacent property.
All three plan options showed parking areas, Concept A with 25 spaces plus two handicapped parking spaces and a restroom similar to the existing one at Inlet Beach Regional Beach Access.
Concepts B and C both provided for two additional parking spaces by means of rotating the restroom by 90 degrees for the former and going with a smaller restroom facility for the latter, similar to the one existing at the Santa Clara Regional Beach Access, Petrich explained.
Petrich noted that, with its central axis that would lend itself to planting in a central stormwater bio-swale area, Concept A would allow for that axis to line up with the pedestrian crossing on CR-30A and a “central visual” of the beach.
In response to a question, Kellenberger said all parking for the access would be on the south side of CR-30A.
In attendance were Santa Rosa Beach residents Ted and Celeste Cobena, who expressed support for the regional beach access.
In response to a press question, Kellenberger said that neighboring property owners had dropped their lawsuit challenging the county purchase of the property. The plaintiffs had contended that the county could not legally pay for purchase of the property with bed tax funds for use as a beach access.
Kellenberger encouraged community members to continue to attend public meetings at which the regional beach access would be discussed, including TDC Destination Improvement Committee meetings, TDC meetings and Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) meetings.
To come before the TDC on June 6 was a recommendation by TDC staff to ask the BCC for approval to engage design/engineering services for additional parking on the right-of-way in front of the regional beach access in Dune Allen, parking that would connect with right-of-way parking spaces currently under contract for construction and would link with parking associated with the Fort Panic Regional Beach Access.
Information on Concepts A, B, and C for the new regional beach access in Dune Allen is available from the TDC at (850) 267-1216, or the plans may be viewed at the link: https://walton.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=3060088&GUID=B2EB671F-F2A2-409B-857C-F91F98C9D132&Options=&Search=.