As our community joins forces in taking precautions related to COVID-19, the Beach Operations team is committed to minimizing the impacts on both staff and the public during this time of uncertainty.
Walton County Commissioners have temporarily closed all 26 miles of beach and in response, the Beach Maintenance crews have worked collaboratively with county entities to close off all public beach accesses. Parking for these accesses have also been closed, including: Regional Beach Accesses (RBA) Santa Clara, Ed Walline, Blue Mountain, Gulfview Heights, Van Ness Butler, Fort Panic and Dune Allen, as well as Neighborhood Beach Accesses (NBA) Lake Causeway and Amalfi.
In the days leading up to the closure, crews increased efforts in disinfecting South Walton’s regional bay and beach bathhouses. Additionally, crews removed all garbage bag holders and have suspended beach garbage collection until further notice. At this time, crews are performing maintenance of bayside parks and improving other non-beach amenities.
Beach Access Updates:
Starting in November 2019, staff began renovations on nine beach access points, including the replacement of decking and railing, the addition of bike racks, or a complete rebuild, if necessary. Five of the beach accesses were located in the Seagrove Beach neighborhood and the four regional beach accesses were located throughout South Walton.
All nine accesses, including 395 NBA, Live Oak NBA, Hickory Lane NBA, Dogwood NBA, Fort Panic RBA, Gulfview Heights RBA, Inlet Beach RBA and Ed Walline RBA, have all reached substantial completion. Given the current closure of South Walton beaches, our staff encourages you to wait to visit and enjoy these accesses until the ordinances are lifted and COVID-19 conditions have improved.
*Substantial means contractor has reached 90% with construction activities. Some minor items/activities remain and will be completed prior to end of construction duration.
Capital Improvement Updates
Per the Walton County BCC, staff was given direction to develop capital improvement plans and schedule public workshops for the four purchased properties, including:
- The Driftwood Road parking project is on a 1.119-acre parcel located at 76 Driftwood Road in Miramar Beach.
- The County Road 393 parcel is 2.3-acres and located north of Gulf Place Town Center on the west side of County Road 393.
- The County Road 283 parcel, also referred to as “Grayton Grand” parking project, is 6.995-acres and located on the eastern portion of County Road 283 South, across from the Shoppes at Grayton. This property has been leveled and improved with more than 300 designated parking spots currently used by visitors to Grayton Beach, employees and patrons, as well as shuttle location for Seaside and other nearly businesses.
- The Eastern Lake Road parking project consists of two neighboring parcels, located at 392 and 406 Eastern Lake Road in the Seagrove neighborhood. 392 Eastern Lake Road, .215-acres, is located just south of Williams Street on Eastern Lake Road. 406 Eastern Lake Road, a .278-acre parcel, is located just next door (east) of 392 Eastern Lake Road.
Currently, all public workshops for these proposed parking projects have been postponed and updates will be provided at a later date.
Managed Vendor Program:
Once our beaches are opened back up to the public, South Walton is excited to begin the 2020 Managed Vendor Program season. Earlier this year, the Walton Co. BCC voted to expand the program to all regional beach accesses within Walton County. In 2019, the pilot program began at the Ed Walline RBA, Inlet Beach RBA and Grayton Beach NBA.
Expansion of the program was based off feedback from community members, partners and staff. Continued expansion of the program to neighborhood beach access points will be considered in the future.
The Managed Vendor Program, overseen by the South Walton Beach Service Association, will be in effect at all regional beach access points, as well as the Grayton Beach Neighborhood Beach Access. So far, this program has drastically reduced the amount of “ghost chairs” and has been well received by the public. With multiple participating vendors, the program has proven to be effective. As mentioned above, discussion to expand the program into neighborhood access will be considered as the program progresses.
So how does this new program work? Beach Vendors all have equal opportunity to participate in the managed vendor program. They have to be 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), sandcastle 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.