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Commissioner wants to spend nearly $2M for restrooms, showers on Okaloosa Island

Commissioner wants to spend $2M for restrooms, showers on Okaloosa Island

Everyone loves the Emerald Coast's calming waves and warm relaxing waters. Tourists come every year for the experience.

Right now, tourists and locals alike have six public beach access points on Okaloosa Island to enjoy. Only three have permanent shower and restroom facilities.

County Commission Chairman Carolyn Ketchel wants to use about $2 million to give the other three access points a facelift.

"This is a real win-win for our area," Chairman Ketchel said, "because these are tourism dollars that are paying for amenities for our county. for heaven's sakes, a lot of locals have to put up with all of the traffic so at least we now have these beautiful amenities that are going into each access way."

But opinions differ on whether or not the structures should be built.

"Now, there is a little controversy - which you will hear next week - because some of the residents have condominiums and it may partially block their view," Chairman Ketchel said.

Sipping peach margaritas and looking out at the Gulf happens to be one of Karen Keene's favorite things to do at the beach. She's here for the week with her girlfriends. She doesn't own the condo she's staying in, but she said losing the view could change her future vacation plans.

"That's what you are here for," Keene said, "to be on the beach and see the beach and if you can't see it, that's why you rent across the street. if you rent on the beach or the water, that's what you are paying for."

She worries the facilities could bring crime.

"I think it's a bad idea. probably too much negative traffic, negative activity for it to be there," Keene said.

Not everyone agrees with her, though. Frank Adcock and his family have been coming to Okaloosa Island since 1973. He likes the idea of the facilities and said the condos need them.

"Many of them depend on tourist traffic to pay their bills, make their investment pay off; so overall from a dollar and cents perspective, it's positive for everybody," Adcock said.

He thinks the vast majority of people will support it as well.

"I think the few people who do not like that sort of thing probably might sit back and re-assess whether they want to purchase a place or just rent," Adcock said.

The county commission will take a final vote on whether or not to move forward with the project at their meeting September 19th at 3:30 pm.

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