With the so many coming to Visit South Walton Beaches and growth in the number of homes and businesses, parking is becoming scarce. Engineer Cliff Knauer told the Walton Commissioners they are looking at where to pick low hanging fruit to use rights of ways and available land for more parking.
Knauer said they have identified county rights of ways they can build on and maintain. With the bed tax funds increasing, the work might be able to be done quickly and without having to go into reserves. The idea is to use land on rights of ways the county owns to add parking in areas where there is limited or no parking. Knauer said problems are increasing as people park most anywhere. The work can also help with beach nourishment credits.
Three areas identified are: the end of Lakeshore Drive at Walton Dunes; the end of Montego Street, where there is an 80 foot easement that could have 20 spaces; and on Montego at Santa Clara where the parking could be extended by 30 or more spaces. The work could help with traffic blocking travel, stormwater issues, handicapped spaces could be added and restrooms might be possible.
The use of the available easements is just the start. Knauer also talked about using the Land Acquisition Ordinance to purchase other vacant parcels where parking could be added. Some of these include Ed Walline Park and Ft. Panic where people are already said to be parking on the road as far as the eye can see. At Ed Walline Park there is a possible additional 99 spaces. The Ft. Panic land has more challenges and there is a dune lake to protect.
TDC Director Dawn Moliterno talked about the process of identifying additional parking spaces. She took time to thank Dede Hinote, the GIS department and others who are working to identify easements and possible land to be purchased. Moliterno said the Tourist Development Council wants to address the issue.