Fort Walton Beach City Officials are Designing a “Walkable” Downtown

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After a day in the sun, Fort Walton Beach travelers begin to venture into stores or restaurants.

But lately, city officials are attributing the dropping number of visitors to Highway 98 lack of crosswalks in the middle of downtown, leaving many pedestrians not wanting to cross the busy road to these attractions.

"What the problem is right now is we have big festivals downtown we do it at a park called the landing,” said Michael Beedie, Fort Walton Beach City Manager. “What happens is a lot of vendors come in, they set up, but when they are done and leave, but when people come and visit the festival they stay at the landing they don't go out to the businesses.”

Beedie is also looking into opening vendors on brooks street, located right behind Highway 98, to attract more visitors until crosswalks can be implemented.

"We want to create an environment where vendors can set up on Brooks Street, and possibly visitors will look around the stores, buy things and then come back and visit later,” said Beedie.

Beedie says Brooks Street could be developed soon, since new crosswalks will have to wait until spring of 2015.

Business owners on Highway 98 say the new crosswalks can't come soon enough.

"We could definitely use some more crosswalks to get across,” said Tim Carr, Owner of Fluid Surf Shop. “Now they are at the major intersections, but people at the end of our street want to go straight across, they don't want to walk to blocks to get to the other side."

The city will fund the new crosswalks on money that has already been set aside for this.

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