FORT WALTON BEACH — A massive project to improve the Fort Walton Landing could get underway early next year.
The Fort Walton Beach City Council on Tuesday authorized Mayor Dick Rynearson to complete an agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for $1.6 million in grant money to pay for various upgrades to the Landing. The funding will cover design, permitting, project review and construction costs.
The money will come from the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resources Damage Assessment program. It was created in the wake of the 2010 BP oil spill and is funded with settlement money.
The project will include: renovation and construction of about 875-foot boardwalk along Santa Rosa Sound; lighting, benches and trash containers for the boardwalk; Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant sidewalks that connect to the boardwalk; environmental/cultural signs; and creation of a “living shoreline” with oyster reefs and salt marsh.
Project permits from the FDEP and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are anticipated to be approved this fall, according to City Manager Michael Beedie. The city will put the project out for bid, and construction might start in January, he said.
While the grant agreement requires the project to be completed within 36 months, Beedie said he thinks it will be finished in less than six months.
FWB officials plan to use General Fund money to pay for the work and request reimbursement from the FDEP after the project is completed.
Later, the city hopes to receive RESTORE Act money to build a stage over the water, improve the seawall and add a launch for kayaks and other non-motorized watercraft.
In other business Tuesday, the council:
• Ratified an agreement with Okaloosa County that will provide $15,000 from the Florida Boating Improvement Program to repair the boardwalk and pier at the Liza Jackson Park boat ramp. Beedie said the work could start within the next week or two and be completed sometime in September.