DESTIN. Fla. (WKRG) — The City of Destin and Okaloosa County Board of Commissioners is working to create a 340-foot beachfront park at Tarpon Beach on Scenic Highway 98.

Tarpon Beach Park is the second phase of a beach buyback project between the City of Destin, the Okaloosa County Board of Commissioners, the Tourism Development Council and Trust for Public Land.

The group also purchased land at Crystal Beach to expand public beach access in April of 2021.

“Making our beautiful beaches more accessible to our residents and out-of-town guests is a top priority for the County,” said Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Trey Goodwin. “This is a major step toward that goal, and we are grateful to have a team of partners that understand that commitment.”

“These kinds of partnerships are an effective way to move Destin forward in a positive direction for both locals and visitors,” said Destin Mayor Bobby Wagner. “I applaud the efforts of our partners and the work of former Mayor Gary Jarvis in making this a reality.”

The county and city pledged $26.5 million to expand public beach access in Destin. The majority of funds from both entities come from Tourism Development District revenue.

“Increasing access to the pristine Tarpon Beach is not only a tourism draw for the city but gives residents walkability to the waterfront and all its amenities that have previously been closed off,” said Kate Brown, Senior Project Manager for Trust for Public Land. “Trust for Public Land has been working for years to improve beach access in Destin and create more green spaces that are open and welcoming to everyone, and we’re proud to continue this partnership with the City.”

A celebration event will be held on Feb. 3 at the park location to mark the start of the project. Three structures currently sit on the purchased land. Park construction will begin after the 2023 tourism season.

County staff said they hope to open the Crystal Beach and Tarpon Beach parks by May 2024.