New Regional Beach Access Updates:
- Miramar Beach RBA (Scenic Gulf Drive): The permitting and design phase has reached 90% completion for the Miramar Beach RBA, with construction phase planned for late 2020. Amenities include additional parking, a revised pavilion, a dune walkover and a lifeguard on the sandy beach. Street Address: 907 Scenic Gulf Drive
- Seagrove Beach RBA: Staff continues to work through the permitting and design phase for the Seagrove Beach RBA. Construction for this project to begin in late 2020 and will be ready to welcome visitors mid-2021. Street Address: TBD, Located Across from Café Thirty-A
Beach Access Renovations:
A majority of the nine neighborhood and regional beach access points are complete after receiving a facelift this fall and winter. Enhancements include improvements or replacement of decking and railing, addition of bike racks, or if needed, a complete rebuild.
To make accessing the beaches easier for both visitors and locals, no more than two neighborhood beach access and/or regional beach access points will be under construction at a given time.
The five neighborhood beach accesses receiving improvements this season are located in the Seagrove Beach neighborhood and will be completely inaccessible during their respective construction periods. Please note, some dates may have changed from the initial announcement of construction.
- 395 NBA: Substantially completed; ready to welcome guests
- Hickory NBA: Substantially completed; ready to welcome guests
- Live Oak NBA: Construction Underway
- Dogwood NBA: Substantially completed; ready to welcome guests
- Nightcap NBA: Construction Underway
In addition, staff has started on renovations at four regional beach access points, including: Inlet Beach, Gulfview Heights, Ed Walline, and Fort Panic (formally known as “Dune Allen Regional Beach Access”).
As previously mentioned, some of the dates may have changed since the initial announcement of construction, please plan accordingly.
- Inlet Beach: Under construction from 12-21-19 through 2-29-20
- The east and west access points have reached substantial completion, with the middle access point currently under construction. The bathhouse and some parking will be available throughout this renovation.
- Ed Walline: Under construction from 12-12-19 through 2-29-20
- Construction is underway, with access to the beach available through the emergency access drive, just west of the main walkway. Although the boardwalks and tower will be closed for these renovations, the bathhouse, sand beach entrance and parking will be available.
- Fort Panic: Substantially completed; ready to welcome guests
- Gulfview Heights: Substantially completed; ready to welcome guests
Additional Beach / Bay Access Improvements:
The Walton County TDC Beach Maintenance team has been hard at work this season to make updates to various neighborhood and regional beach access points throughout South Walton. In addition to the nine renovation projects, the bathhouses and landscaping have been updated to prepare for the quickly approaching spring season.
Alligator Lake Multi-Use Path Project:
The Walton County Public Works department is working to install a new, pre-cast bridge structure for locals and visitors to enjoy while exploring the Timpoochee Trail. The project is progressing on schedule and is expected to reopen in spring of 2020.
Please note, as crews continue to improve this area, both pedestrians and vehicles will not be able to pass through the lake crossing and an alternative route will need to be taken.
Capital Improvements Update / Workshop Schedule:
Earlier this summer, the Walton County TDC was given direction from the Walton County BCC to develop capital improvement plans and schedule public workshops for the four purchased properties, including: Driftwood, Highway 393, Highway 283 and Eastern Lake Road.
Based off the feedback of residents and community members, TDC staff will take the next steps in compiling the information collected and develop a comprehensive plan to present to the Walton County Board of County Commissioners. The comprehensive plan will include recommendations from staff and the public for the best use of each site and the BCC will then decide what is most appropriate for each project.
In addition, Walton Dunes NBA and Headland Avenue RBA conceptual designs will be presented to the Walton County BCC at the Jan. 14 meeting. Multiple public workshops were hosted for these two projects in 2019, where feedback and direction were given by residents, partners and staff.
If you are interested in learning more about the improvements to the destination, we encourage you to attend the Beach Management Committee and/or Destination Improvement Committee meetings. These meetings provide an opportunity for community leaders, staff and the public to discuss opportunities to enhance the South Walton experiences for our visitors.
The TDC committees were created to provide recommendations to the Walton County TDC Advisory Board. All meetings will be located in the South Walton Annex. For more information, please visit our website.
- Beach Management: Tuesday, March 3: 9 a.m.
- Destination Improvement: Wednesday, March 4: 1 p.m.
Managed Vendor Program:
Location Updates for Managed Vendor Program
At the Jan. 14 BCC meeting, TDC staff presented recommendations for future locations for the 2020 Managed Vendor Program. The BCC voted to expand the Managed Vendor program to all regional beach accesses within Walton County. Last year, the pilot program began at the Ed Walline RBA, Inlet Beach RBA and Grayton Beach. Expansion of the program was based off feedback from community members, partners and staff. Continued expansion of the program into neighborhood beach accesses will be considered in the future.
The managed vendor program, overseen by the South Walton Beach Service Association, is in effect at three of South Walton's public beaches: Ed Walline Regional Beach Access, Inlet Beach Regional Beach Access, and Grayton Dunes Public Beach Access. So far, this program has drastically reduced the amount of “ghost chairs” and has been well received by the public. With 18 participating vendors, the program is expected to expand to more access points in the future and has proven to be effective. As mentioned above, the Code Enforcement department hosted two public workshops for industry partners and citizens to discuss improvements for the upcoming 2020 season.
So how does this new program work? Beach Vendors all have equal opportunity to participate in the managed vendor program. They have to be, of course, a permitted vendor in Walton County; sign the Association’s Agreement; drop off/pick up equipment as needed or store their equipment in the association’s storage boxes on the beach; are not allowed to set up/tear down equipment on their own; and pay a fee based on how many beach sets rented out.
A beach attendant, who is on site daily, works directly with guests to set up their beach equipment, whether it be chairs, an umbrella or watersports equipment. When the guest is done with their equipment, the attendant removes the equipment from the beach. This will alleviate the issue of "ghost sets" or empty chairs on the beach.
The program regulates Walton County beach vendors for beach chairs/umbrellas and watersports equipment (such as kayaks, paddleboards etc.). The program does not regulate or have any association to Special Event Permits/vendors, (including photographers, officiants), sand castle lesson vendors, bonfire vendors or the like.
For more information about the program, contact Phillip Poundstone at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (850) 832-8715.
Beach Access & Customary Use Reminder:
While there have been changes for customary use of private beachfront property, much is still evolving at this time. If guests have concerns, we hope the below information will be helpful.
Things to keep in mind:
- Visit South Walton currently maintains 58 public beach access points, including 8 Regional Public Beach Accesses complete with parking, restroom facilities, and lifeguards. South Walton also enjoys additional miles of public beach thanks to our State Parks. The customary use changes do not affect our public beaches, only privately-owned beachfront property.
- A user-friendly interactive map of public beach access points can be found here: https://www.visitsouthwalton.com/beach-and-bay-access-locations
- Many beach neighborhoods and resorts already have dedicated beach areas available for guests staying with them.
What is customary use?
- Customary use is a common law term referring to the public access of the privately-owned beachfront property. Some Gulf-front properties in Florida have a property line that extends to the mean high water line.
What is changing?
- Essentially, some beachfront homeowners are restricting access to the dry sandy areas behind their homes. All wet sand areas remain undisputed public property and beach goers cannot be excluded from these areas. The Walton County Sheriff’s Department will be the governing force for any conflicts or complications that may arise on the space in front of properties now considered private property.
Does that mean I can't walk all 26 miles of our white sand beaches?
- No, you can absolutely still walk our beautiful beaches for as far as you wish. There will still be plenty of space in the wet sand area for beach-walkers to enjoy, and plenty of public beach where access is in no way under dispute.
Customary Use Information:
Walton County Beach Maintenance Department has been denied access to collect trash on private property by some beachfront property owners. As a result of those beach front property owners, beach garbage pickup by TDC crews is no longer available on about 40-percent of beaches. That percentage not only includes the beachfront properties that owners will not allow access to or across their property, but in some cases also adjacent properties that can no longer be accessed for garbage collection because crews are blocked on either side by property owners that will not allow collection crews to cross their property. The affected owners were notified. Public Regional and Neighborhood Beach Accesses will not be affected, and garbage collection will continue as usual on those beaches.