Reel Talk from the City of Destin: Parks are for the People

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City of Destin MayorBy Tamara Leigh Young, PhD, Public Information Director for the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village

It’s time for more “reel” talk from the Mayor and me. This time, the City of Destin’s Mayor, Bobby Wagner, and I met to chat about city parks. Please email me at tyoung@cityofdestin.com if you’d like to submit a question or have a topic you’d like discussed in an upcoming edition.

TY: The beaches are the most talked about natural beauty around here, but we have some parks that deserve attention, too. Clement E. Taylor Park is one I love to bike to, and it’s great to see the renovations lately. The latest Destin Forward class, the leadership program through the Destin Chamber, raised funds and put in new educational signage, upgrades to the volleyball court, and the planting of Florida native plants. I know you were part of that program years ago, so what do you think of this latest contribution?

City of Destin BicyclistBW: First of all, congratulations to you and your class for graduating from Destin Forward this year! Your project has made a significant contribution to the park. I visited recently and was impressed by the new signs, the revamped volleyball court and the beautiful native plants. These efforts have truly enhanced the park for everyone to enjoy.

TY: Well, thank you! Adding in our class and your past one plus all the others, 253 people have now successfully completed the program. Our park focus seemed fitting to talk about with you, as you’re a tree guy yourself. For your State of the City Address, you had a theme of a lot of “P’s”: People • Partnerships • Progress. We should have added Parks!

BW: Wow, that’s 253 leaders who now have a holistic view of our community and a deeper understanding of the fabric of our city. And yes, parks could have been another “P.” As we continue to grow our people, cultivate partnerships and celebrate our progress, I believe our parks will naturally benefit from this vision.

TY: From a city standpoint, the biggest buzz for Clement E. Taylor Park is that a few weeks ago we released the RFP for major renovations there. Bids aren’t due until later in June, but can you talk about some of the expected renovations?

BW: Yes, it is officially happening. Our historic Clement Taylor Park is getting a nearly one-million-dollar makeover. These funds have been in bureaucratic limbo for years, and now we’ve finally freed them! We’re planning to start construction by the end of the year, and there will be a new playground for all ages and abilities, new bathroom facilities and upgraded pavilion areas. We’re enhancing this park to match the natural beauty of its 2.5-acre green space, which boasts more than a dozen live oaks that are over 100 years old.

TY: The oaks are incredible and the view at the Park overlooking Crab Island is also stunning. I love seeing people on blankets, on bikes, fishing or whatever just enjoying the park’s peacefulness.

BW: Destin has 19 traditional parks and dozens of neighborhood or pocket parks. My challenge to the readers is to jump on a bike and explore all these areas in Destin. As a kid, my friends and I would explore the area on our bikes, and it was so much fun discovering all these little hidden green spaces.

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