FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (WKRG) — Boaters using the intercoastal waterway in the Santa Rosa Sound to Choctawhatchee Bay have new speed zones to look out for.
At the Feb. 28 meeting, the city council unanimously approved adding a no-wake zone around the Liza Jackson Park Boat Ramp.
- The ‘No Wake’ zone will stretch out 500 feet in every direction around the ramp.
- The council also approved a $27,900 redesign of the Liza Jackson Park boat ramp and parking areas for the Waterfront park project. JDF Architecture in Fort Walton Beach will complete the design. The design is scheduled to be completed in May of 2023.
The motion for wake zones also included the Landing Park in Fort Walton Beach.
The Landing and the Boat Basing at Okaloosa County Beach Access point on Okaloosa Island will become a slow-speed/minimum wake zone area. These areas are extensions of the current slow speed zone under the Brooks Bridge.
- Both zones span 500 feet from shore in all directions.
The 500 feet no-wake zone at Liza Jackson will not affect the intercoastal waterway for travel. The slow speed zone will cover the entire waterway near Brooks Bridge.
The City of Fort Walton Beach partnered with the Board of Okaloosa County Commissioners. The County will work with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for maintaining and changing boat traffic signs.
“Liza Jackson Park and the Landing both have a public coat launch,” said Fort Walton Beach Police Chief Robert Bage. “In my belief, this would improve boating safety as you’re launching and retrieving vessels at both locations.”
Long-time residents and mariners spoke at the meeting saying this change was a “long time coming.” Members of the council agreed these changes make sense with a minimum impact to intercoastal waterway travel.
The Okaloosa County Tourism Development Department surveyed these areas to propose the wake zone changes.