“We still have quite a bit of a process before this is done. Treasury is reminding us we’re not at the finish line yet.”
If a more tedious sounding agenda item has graced an Okaloosa County Commission meeting packet, it likely died for lack of love.
But by approving the only item under “Old Business” on their plate Tuesday commissioners knew they were inching one step closer to someday actually seeing BP Restore Act dollars put toward improving their community.
With this in mind they voted 5-0 to “acknowledge acceptance of the Okaloosa County RESTORE Act Initial Multiyear Implementation Plan Phase I (Multiyear Plan) by the United States Department of the Treasury (Treasury).”
“This is like death by process,” Commissioner Nathan Boyles groaned in seconding the motion for acceptance of the plan. “I am so sorry for everyone involved.”
Boyles’ primary condolences were offered to Jane Evans, the county’s Restore Act and Grants Manager.
It was Evans’ solemn duty to notify the commissioners of everything they, and their “subrecipients,” must do to receive their awards and “subawards” from the U.S. Treasury so that they can actually fund projects that have been tentatively accepted but not completely accepted.
“Bureaucracy at its finest,” Commissioner Graham Fountain noted.
Not only does everyone involved in receiving a grant for various projects to be paid for by BP funds need to fill out a whole new application for funding, there remain risk assessments to be made, subawardee approvals to be given and federal government officials to be made happy.
“We still have quite a bit of a process before this is done,” Evans said. “Treasury is reminding us we’re not at the finish line yet.”
Not yet, but a slight step ahead, it seems, of neighboring Walton County. Bill Williams, the Restore Act Coordinator there, said Walton is still waiting to hear from the Treasury Department on its Initial Multiyear Implementation Plan Phase I (Multiyear Plan).
The Okaloosa County projects that have received tentative approval are:
Student-led habitat restoration at county parks: Consists of planting 3.2 acres of sea oats across dune habitat and 2.5 acres of smooth cordgrass plants in salt marsh habitat; $87,590. The NeighborWood at Emerald Coast Science Center in Fort Walton Beach: Consists of creating bog environments and native plant exhibits and an interactive learning environment; $87,589. Multi-use outdoor community facility in Niceville; $80,778. Gulfarium C.A.R.E.Center: Funding would allow the facility to increase the number of sea turtle patients to more than double the current capacity; $87,181. County snorkel/diver reef construction: Would fill a niche tourist market currently unavailable and create habitat for fish and other aquatic species; $1,196,560. Economic revitalization of Niceville’s historic “Old Downtown;” Would provide property for construction of a public boat landing/park in the Community Redevelopment Area; $389,290. Restoration of Clement Taylor Park, Destin: Various improvements, including the addition of a fishing pier; $729,918. Fort Walton Landing: Improvements include replacing the boardwalk and seawall, building a new stage over the water, adding a launch area for kayaks and other non-motorized watercraft, adding more walkways and lighting, and planting sea grass and installing oyster reefs along the shore; $1,070,024. Construction of Capt. Royal Melvin Heritage Park and Plaza next to Destin harbor: Plans call for docks, a kayak launch, historical/environmental displays, a wildlife observation area, restrooms and picnic facilities; $1,216,530. Laffitte Crescent storm water infrastructure retrofit: Would reduce flooding and decrease sediment and other pollutants discharging into Cinco Bayou; $420,433.