RESTORE ACT COMMITTEE MEETING OF
August 16, 2018
First I think it is important to explain the RESTORE ACT
On July 6, 2012, the President signed into law the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act; Subtitle F of Public Law 112-141). The Act established the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund in the U.S. Treasury Department. Eighty percent of the civil penalties paid after July 6, 2012, under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill will be deposited into the Trust Fund and invested. Under the Act, amounts in the Trust Fund will be available for programs, projects, and activities that restore and protect the environment and economy of the Gulf Coast region.
The monies are allocated as follows: 1st Pot: 35% Equal State Allocation (LOCAL); 2nd Pot: 30% Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council Allocation (Federal); 3rd Pot: 30% Oil Spill Restoration Impact Allocation (State); 4th Pot: 5% Research
August 16, 2018 Meeting:
The meeting started at 6 p.m. and allowed for Public Comments. Specifically from Gulf Harbors United were Diane Kobernick, Mitchell Kobernick and Chickie Wittenburg. In attendance from Gulf Harbors Civic Association, Art Haedike, Matt Geiger and Skipp Geiger as well as some people from the Calusa Club.
Art Haedike (in brief) spoke to the Committee about going in and out of the North and South Channel and how he was inhibited because he has a boat that has a 4 foot drag. He was limited because of tides. He would like to see this dredging go through. He also spoke about the major fish kill that has been seen in the past in Gulf Harbors and he believes it is from not having enough oxygen in the water flowing in our canals.
I spoke to the Committee on the Dewberry Report and how would the dredging be paid for. The Dewberry Report estimated the cost to be $6.1 M, without a plan to dispose of the spoil for the Gulf Harbors Community. I have been questioning the County and have yet to receive answers to my last email. I then again said I would like some answers as to the effect on our community.
* It is important to note that Dewberry was contracted to do a County-Wide Integrated Dredge Management Plan at a cost of $37,000 (per last night’s meeting info). The final report is dated July 14, 2017. I questioned many issues in this report, including the statement that “the golf course was now owned by the County”. (you can read more on this on the GHU website). What we discovered at the meeting is that Dewberry never went into the channels themselves and based their report on the entire length of the channels. Dewberry also estimated the dredging cost for Hudson to be $1.4M and for Gulf Harbors North and South Channels to be 6.1M (without engineering cost, permitting costs and most importantly without a plan for disposal of the spoil)
* It is also important to note that Gulf Harbors channels are considered “Maintenance Dredges”
Mr. Franklin informed the committee that rather than use the Dewberry report, he inquired and received estimates to “Spot Dredge” the North and South Channels of Gulf Harbors and the Hudson Channel for approx. $1.5M. What was not discussed was the disposal of the spoil.
- He also informed the Committee that Grants are limited and competitive for these projects. Most Federal funding for dredging is related to Commercial Ports
- Funding Sources discussed were: RESTORE money, increasing boater fees, County funding, and MSBUs
- Next step would likely be getting input from residents
- There were additional RESTORE discussions and then the discussion returned to Dredging.
Jack Mariano believes that it would be possible to get grants for the Hudson Dredging because of the commercial use by shrimpers. He also mentioned that some HOAs have done the dredging of their canals on their own by assessing property owners.
In fact, a group from Ballies Bluff, in attendance, has done as much. A community of about 50 homes is affected and has donated approximately $10,000 to get their channel dredged. At the meeting, a representative of this community told the Committee that their channel was navigable for years until the County created a park on the north shore of the channel. Since then, the shoreline has eroded, mangroves have washed away and the lagoon is lacking oxygen. Commissioner Starkey did say that there are fishing camps in this location and would like to see this at the forefront of the dredging. Much discussion was done about the community contributing maybe a % of the cost. Cynthia Armstrong made a motion to dedicate $500,000 without this stipulation to dredge part of the channel and stabilize the County park shoreline, and this passed.
Specifically for Gulf Harbors:
As mentioned above, Art and I spoke in the opening comments. Jack Mariano spoke about funding possibilities such as an MSBU. He then called on me to comment on what I believe would be the community’s opinion of an MSBU. My comments were that there are 2 types of people that live in our Community. Not everyone in Gulf Harbors would be in favor of an MSBU. Some people in Gulf Harbors have boats and this would benefit them but many live here just to be near the water and do not have boats. (Keeping in mind that I have filed a lawsuit to defend our community against the injustice of MSBUs, and not knowing the full scope of work or the final costs, I was not prepared to comment more.)
Art then spoke that he was in favor of the dredging and offered to raise funds for Gulf Harbors through the Gulf Harbors Civic Association’s 501c3.
The Committee decided that the dredging project would benefit us all. One of the committee members commented that it would increase property values, so even those without boats would benefit. (This was also said about the golf course, and I am not of this opinion. I believe that boaters are still constricted by the depth of the gulf waters all around our peninsula.)
Cynthia Armstrong then made a motion:
Motion for County staff to get costs for the BOCC to authorize funds, not to exceed $100,000 for an engineering study for the Gulf Harbors and Hudson Channel (combined). The Motion passed.