As we prepare for busier summer months, our Beach Operations staff is taking additional precautions related to COVID-19 to keep both visitors and locals safe. Extensive measures are being taken to help minimize the impacts on South Walton's visitors, residents and staff during this time.
Crews are maintaining cleanliness on and off the beach by disinfecting all public beach access bathroom facilities and boardwalk handrails with industrial cleaners and sanitizer, as well as removing trash and lost/personal items from boardwalks, parking areas and common gathering areas. With the influx of visitors traveling to the destination, additional trash containers have been added to all regional beach accesses and select neighborhood accesses to assist in trash collection throughout the summer months.
In addition to addressing sanitation concerns, staff has installed signage at beach access points to promote and encourage safer practices when visiting South Walton’s beaches, as well as to inform visitors of executive orders put in place by our state and local officials.
Regional Beach Access Updates:
The Scenic Gulf Drive (Miramar Beach) RBA project is about 95% complete within design/permit phase. Construction is expected to begin in late fall 2020 and be ready to welcome visitors by early summer 2021.
The Seagrove Beach RBA, located across the street from Café Thirty A, is around 75% complete within the design/permit phase, with construction expected to begin in late 2020/early 2021. Construction is expected to take around 8 – 10 months.
The Walton Dunes RBA (Beachfront Trail) conceptual design plans were approved by the Walton Co. BCC earlier this year and staff is currently working through the permitting/design phase. This new RBA will have approx. 16 parallel ROW parking spaces, restrooms and an ADA-accessible boardwalk.
Beach operations crews will be conducting survey work in the Seagrove Beach area following Tropical Storm Christobal. Survey crews will document beach and dune erosion and will continue to monitor the shoreline.
Capital Improvement Updates:
The TDC has purchased five properties to help provide more parking for our visitors and residents in South Walton. Currently, staff is incorporating community input, as well as working with feasibility study experts, NUE Urban Concepts, to help design the best plan per site.
Conceptual plans for these sites are ongoing and will be presented at a later date. The Beach Operations team anticipates future opportunities for the public to give more input on these sites as these projects develop.
- 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 Beach Vendor Program:
The 2020 Managed Vendor Program season has officially begun with limitations in place. A total of 12 vending companies are serving South Walton visitors this summer. In 2019, the pilot program began at the Ed Walline RBA, Inlet Beach RBA and Grayton Beach NBA and with much success. In 2020, the program was expanded to all regional beach accesses.
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, is now 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, or an umbrella. 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. 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 email@example.com or call (850) 832-8715.
See a complete lineup of South Walton's beach access locations.