Governor Scott Signs BP Triumph Gulf Coast Bill as Escambia County Approves RESTORE Plan Approved with 10 Projects

 

By: Tony McCray

Governor Scott signed the Triumph Gulf Coast legislation in a ceremony at Pensacola International Airport Monday that reemphasized a successful legislative session for the Northwest Florida eight (8) counties that includes Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf, Franklin and Wakulla.  In an interview with the Gulf Coast Voice, County Commissioner Grover Robinson that, “This in ongoing great opportunity for Northwest Florida economic recovery.  This will be a big deal for the next 15 years.

The state legislators that played a role in creating the momentum and advocacy for the fifteen (15) year financial commitment of $1.5 Billion to the eight most affected counties in the State were on hand for the bill signing ceremony.  Rep. Clay Ingram, Senator Doug Broxson, Rep. Jayer Williamson, Rep. Frank White and Rep. Mel Ponder were present along with Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson and Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward.

This year a $300 million investment from the BP’s $2.0 billion settlement for the 2010 oil spill will be transferred to Triumph Gulf Coast Inc., which will spend the money on projects in the eight targeted Panhandle counties most affected by the spill.

Governor Rick Scott held a Triumph bill signing event at Pensacola International Airport Monday. Brandon Girod/cgirod@pnj.com

The bill locks in 75% of all future payments be transferred to Triumph Gulf Coast within 30 days of being received.  There is also a requirement that 40% of the $300 million be divided equally among the eight counties targeted.   

After the signing ceremony, Escambia County staff held a mandatory public hearing on the Escambia County Commission’s approval of their BP Oil Spill RESTORE Act Multi-Year Implementation Plan (MYIP). The approval came last Thursday, May 25th, during the County Commission meeting.  The Multi-Year Implementation Plan, or the abbreviated MYIP branding, is just another name for “Strategic Plan”!  Monday, June 5th began a mandatory  “Public Comment Period” of 45 days that is required by the Federal Government’s Department of the Treasury.  The meeting and public hearing was held at 5:30 p.m. at the Central Office Complex (3363 West Park Place), Room 104.

RESTORE stands for: Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012, or RESTORE Act.   The U.S. Department of Treasury’s regulations direct Escambia County to prepare a Multi-Year Implementation Plan that prioritizes eligible activities for Direct Component funds awarded to the county through the Deepwater Horizon Settlement and RESTORE Act, and to obtain broad-based participation from individuals, businesses, Indian tribes and non-profit organizations as part of plan preparation.

The Escambia County Board of County Commissioners established the RESTORE Advisory Committee, which was led by Bentina Terry formerly of Gulf Power, in 2012 to gain input from Escambia County citizens to develop a Needs Assessment, Selection Criteria and rank project submittals to the Project Portal. The Board of County Commissioners then shortlisted the following ten projects in February 2017 to include in the initial MYIP: Carpenter Creek Revitalization Plan, Eleven Mile Creek Basin, Eleven Mile Creek Restoration, Hollice T. Williams Stormwater & Recreational Park

OLF8 Commerce Park Improvements, Perdido Key Gulf of Mexico Beach Access, Perdido Key Multi-Use Path, Project Universal Access, SOAR with RESTORE, South Dog Track Drainage

In preparation of submitting the final MYIP, Escambia County is accepting public comment for a period of 45 days for those projects included within the plan.

The board authorized staff at the May 25, 2017 regular board meeting to conduct the 45 day public comment period. The public comment period will open June 5, 2017 and close July 19, 2017. Public comments can be submitted in the following ways:

In person: MYIP kickoff meeting, Monday, June 5 at 5:30 p.m., Central Office Complex, 3363 West Park Place, Room 104

Email

Mail: Attention – Escambia County Natural Resources Management-RESTORE, 221 Palafox Place, Pensacola, FL 32502

Phone: 850-595-0820

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