The deadline for residents in Santa Rosa County to apply for money from the RESTORE Act for their projects is this Friday. Because of that, there are calls going out not to get in the paperwork by Thursday.
“A special note on that deadline,” said Sheila Fitzgerald, the county’s Grants Director. “We do realize that it is the Good Friday holiday. So we are encouraging anyone that is planning to submit a proposal to try and get that in if at all possible by Thursday. That way, if they run into any technical issues, there will be staff on hand.”
Santa Rosa has $4.3 million in RESTORE monies, from the settlement with Transocean for its part in the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. After the BP trial in New Orleans is finished, that payoff could total upwards of $60 million.
About 65 people attended a workshop last month on how to apply. Commissioner Lane Lynchard, a member of the RESTORE Council, said it also was a chance for him and county staff to get up to speed on what he considers uncharted waters: with only one chance to get it right.
“The process has become more familiar, and I think it’s going to get more familiar as we move along,” said Lynchard. “It’s becoming more like a federal grant program in its administration.”
The applications will be ranked and reviewed by members of the Local RESTORE Council, which will oversee development. The criteria to be used depends on the application and project.
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. Grants Director Sheila Fitzgerald says they’re looking for what they call “complete proposals.”
“There’s a series of about 13 items that need to be covered within a proposal,” Fitzgerald said. “From the project description, to how that activity meets with the RESTORE Act. They need to provide us with budget figures, [and] time lines for implementation.”
The proposals that have come in so far represent a wide range of projects in Santa Rosa County – some new, and some on hold until funding is secured. They include Deadman’s Island, and re-opening Navarre Pass.
Grants and other county departments have been working with the RESTORE Council. Fitzgerald says it’s all about making sure their actions fit within the guidelines set up by the county and by the Treasury Department.
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