Walton County, Florida to seek tourist app for beach chair rentals, weather

SANTA ROSA BEACH — Walton County will miss what had been an informal goal of having a digital app in place by the March start of this year’s tourist season to handle vending of beach chairs, umbrellas and other amenities by the private companies handling that business.

Development of the app has been pushed by newly elected Commissioner Mike Barker, and the issue recently made its way onto a list of priorities connected to proposed changes in the county’s beach activities ordinance. The county reviews the beach activities ordinance at the end of every tourist season, including public workshops, to develop possible modifications.

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Crowds enjoy a Fourth of July holiday at Grayton Beach, a popular spot for tourists and locals alike along Walton County Road 30A. the county is moving to possibly acquire property for a public restroom to be located near the beach.

The commission last week reviewed a number of proposed amendments to the ordinance and other means of addressing issues on the county’s public and private beaches. Development of the app was on that list, but last Tuesday’s discussion quickly moved beyond the original goal of simply tracking how many chair-and-umbrella “sets” were being placed on county beaches.

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That placement of “sets’ has become an issue because vendors often place more than are being used, taking up beach space with unoccupied so-called “ghost chairs.”

Commissioners heard a presentation on a possible app from Jeff Zehnder of Zehnder Communications, the New Orleans-based company that handles the Walton County Tourist Development Council (TDC) website. The company also handles a TDC app that has fallen into disuse as the website has become more usable via cellphone and digital tablet.

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