Escambia County and the City of Pensacola, in an effort to help engage and assist local residents with the RESTORE Act project submission process, held a special workshop on Tuesday, June 16, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the Sanders Beach-Corinne Jones Community Center at 913 South I Street. Keith Wilkins, the Director of the Escambia County Community and Environment Department, and Dewberry Consultants presented for the first time, the actual project application which will be presented through a web-based portal for RESTORE Act funds.
The web-based portal is being developed for applicants who wish to submit competitive ideas and proposals for economic development, environmental, and/or infrastructure projects. The Escambia County Commission recently adopted the selection criteria that will be used to evaluate and prioritize projects submitted for RESTORE funding. This action by the commission clears the way for county staff and the Dewberry Consultants to take the necessary steps to finalize the application process.
Escambia County is projected to receive millions of dollars in B.P. Oil Spill penalty dollars that the portal is being designed to manage. Attendees at the workshop learned more details about the RESTORE application process and how local residents can enter the portal to compete for the funding of sustainable projects creating change in order to make a positive impact on the community.
Estelle Wilson, an Environmental Scientist with Dewberry, made the presentation on the various sections such as the Baseline Criteria of 1.) Project Justification, 2.) Project Budget, 3.) Timing (Development Schedule) 4.) Public Interest, 5.) Monitoring Plan. Wilson’s presentation provided a complete review of the application including Bonus Points such as 1.) Benefits to Traditionally Underserved Persons, 2.) Community Health, 3.) Neighborhood Benefits, and 4.) Local Preference.
There were many questions from the audience that were requests for clarification of the process and how local residents and organizations will be able to partner with city and county departments for the funding of projects that meet the needs of the neighborhoods. When asked about further community outreach and informational workshops on the application process, the county staff responded that the next session will be held at Lexington Terrace Community Center at 700 South Old Corry Field Road at 5:30 pm.