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    Categories: environmentgovernment

Escambia’s RESTORE Picks

by Jeremy Morrison

Late this summer, Escambia County officials decided to hone in on their top-picks within the pool of potential RESTORE projects vying for oil-spill restoration funding. They wanted to prioritize, to concentrate county staff’s efforts on a select number of projects.

This week, Escambia County commissioners will hear assessments of their selected projects. County staff has dug into the selections and surfaced with a list of risk and benefits for each.

A total of six projects have been assessed by county staff. The projects are Carpenter Creek and Bayou Texar Economic and Environmental Revitalization; Project Universal Access; Perdido Key Gulf of Mexico Beach Access; Perdido Key Multi-Use Path; OLF8 Commerce Park Improvements; and South Dogtrack Drainage.

According to County Spokesperson Joy Tsubooka, only three commissioners submitted projects to be assessed. Commissioners Lumon May and Steven Barry have yet to submit their list of preferred projects.

Of the projects that were selected by the remaining three commissioners, Chairman Grover Robinson selected the Carpenter Creek/Bayou Texar project, as well as Universal Access; Vice Chairman Wilson Robertson selected OLF8 and Dogtrack Drainage; Commissioner Doug Underhill chose the pair of Perdido Key-centric projects, as well as a third project — Port of Pensacola Berth 6 Restoration — which county staff will not be presenting this week.

During the presentation slated for the commissioners’ Oct. 13 committee of the whole meeting, staff will be laying out the costs of each project, as well as the expected pay-offs, such as environmental restoration or economic benefit.

The Carpenter Creek and Bayou Texas restoration project comes with a cost of nearly $49 million over the course of 20 years. The benefits include the restoration of impaired water bodies, reducing flooding, reducing and treating stormwater runoff and increasing natural habitats.

Project Universal Access involves the evaluation of Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key and, where needed, the installation of equipment designed to enable individuals with disabilities to access the beach. The cost of this project comes to $3.8 million.

The Perdido Key access project includes the construction of a dune walkover, parking lots, a pavilion and artificial snorkeling reef and is designed to increase the public’s accessibility to the beach. It is projected to cost about $1.6 million.

The Perdido Key multi-use path project calls for a 6.2-mile stretch of paved pathway. It also includes dune walkovers and a near-shore snorkeling reef. This project will cost $6.5 million.

The OLF8 project pertains to the proposed development of a commerce park. This project is suppose to encourage job growth. It is project to cost about $19 million.

The Dogtrack Drainage property is designed to reduce flooding. It calls for the installation of drainage pipes, as well as restoration work in Coral Creek Stream. This project is estimated to cost $8.1 million.

Escambia commissioners will discuss these projects during their meeting this week, scheduled for 9 a.m. Oct. 13 at the county’s downtown governmental complex.

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