Santa Rosa County Still Accepting RESTORE Projects
About 65 applicants seeking RESTORE Act funding for their projects attended a workshop Monday in Milton, sponsored by the Santa Rosa County Commission. The deadline for proposals was also extended, to April 3.
Santa Rosa officials currently have $4.3 million RESTORE monies from the settlement with Transocean, for its part in the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. When all is said and done, after the BP trial in New Orleans is finished, that payoff could total upwards of $60 million.
Commissioner Lane Lynchard is a member of the RESTORE Council. He says the workshop was also an opportunity for them, their staff and their consultants.
“To take a step back, get the input from the potential applicants, and see if there’s anything that we need to tweak in the process,” said Lynchard.
The application process opened last month. The proposals will be ranked and reviewed by members of the Local RESTORE Council, which will oversee development.
Once developed, the proposals will be submitted to the Santa Rosa County Commission, which will make the final decisions. Then, a 45-day public comment period will be held before the plans are forwarded to the U.S. Treasury Department for final acceptance.
Sheila Harris, Santa Rosa’s Director of Grants, says the council has been working for the past few years for the day the money would start flowing in. Her office and other county departments have worked with the council, making sure their actions are consistent with county activities, keeping both on the same page and working within Treasury guidelines.
Part of the reason for Monday’s workshop, says Santa Rosa Commissioner Lane Lynchard, is that planning the use of whatever money that comes from the Deepwater Horizon disaster is placing them in uncharted waters and they have only one chance to get it right.
“The process has become more familiar,” said Lynchard. “And I think it’s going to become more familiar as we move along because it’s becoming more like a federal grant program in its administration.
An informal question-and-answer session on proposals will be held at the RESTORE Council’s next meeting on March 9.
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