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Santa Rosa RESTORE Projects Face Next Hurdle

Photo by Steve Droter/Chesapeake Bay Program

Fifteen projects approved by the Santa Rosa County Commission to share $4.3 million in RESTORE Act funding are now up for federal scrutiny.

Water quality enhancements, oyster bed development, and a job training program are among the projects being green-lighted. Commissioner Lane Lynchard, a member of the county’s RESTORE Council, says this is the culmination of a three-year process.

“We have reviewed 50-plus projects that were submitted to the county,” said Lynchard. “And whittled those down to a manageable list and developed a multi-year implementation plan that contains about $3.7 million worth of local RESTORE projects. We held some back in reserve. We didn’t want to use our entire allocation on this first go-round.”

That Multi Year Implementation Plan was ratified by the County Commission on Monday and now it’s on to the U.S. Treasury Department for approval, which is expected to take up to 90 days.

Lynchard says their approach to this first round of funding was to take as broad a view as possible, of the types of projects that can be funded by RESTORE money. One is an upgrade of Quinn Street Marina in Milton.

“That's a project that [the City of Milton] committed spending over half a million dollars on,” Lynchard said. “So we were able to take our RESTORE Act dollars and leverage those against funds that Milton was going to bring to bear. Five hundred thousand dollars in RESTORE Act funding turns into a million dollars’ worth of project that hits the ground.”

Other projects include:

·         $368,000 for career and technical education at Locklin Tech;

·         $300,000 for oyster restoration in East and Blackwater Bays, and

·         $525,000 to pave dirt roads countywide, which is considered an environmental project.

“Most of those are located in areas where there are sensitive wetlands,” said Lynchard. “A dirt road in a wetland area, you’re going to have runoffs that get into that wetland area, then gets transmitted out into our bays or the sound, and contribute to the overall degradation of that water body.”

Among the less expensive projects submitted:

  • $59,000 for Yellow River Marsh Preserve State Park;
  • $40,000 for Blackwater State Heritage Trail, and
  • $29,000 to start an academy for entrepreneurship at Pace High School.

Any major changes, project additions or subtractions would require another 45-day public comment period, similar to the one last fall. And those whose projects failed to pass muster are invited to compete for a slice of the next round of funding.
The Multi Year Implementation plan, including full project proposals, can be found at www.santarosa.fl.gov/bocc/restore.cfm.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.