Stormwater grant would bring relief to Forest Park area

 

If at first.

The city of Port St. Joe renewed efforts Tuesday to pursue two grants which the city has fallen short of in recent years.

One is to pursue a $286,000 state historic preservation grant when the next cycle begins later this month to be used for the restoration of the Centennial Building.

The Centennial Building project, despite being ranked in the top 10 among 59 applicants for historic preservation grants heading into the just-adjourned legislative session, was out of the money when the state budget passed.

Only the first six projects would be eligible for the funding: projects for the Centennial Building and Port Theatre (ranked No. 7) just missed the funding cutline.

City commissioners approved a resolution in support of re-applying in the coming cycle.

The city has banked a local match for the grant, roughly $28,000 per year, the past two years to facilitate both the grant and the Centennial project.

The other, larger grant, for $922,000, is to fund stormwater improvements along what is called the Forest Park stormwater basin.

That would be the 270 acres that drains into a stormwater ditch the flows through the 10th Street Ball Parks to Buck Griffin Lake and St. Joseph Bay beyond.

The idea would be to create another stormwater pond, on roughly 2.5 acres, approximately the size of the northern end of Buck Griffin Lake, said city engineer Clay Smallwood.

The pond, to the north of Buck Griffin, would provide additional filtering of stormwater before it reaches the bay.

“This is all about protecting the bay,” Smallwood said.

He added that there would be a monitoring component to the grant to ensure that the project performed as intended.

Smallwood said the stormwater project would be an entirely separate from the proposed expansion of the 10th Street Ball Parks; the pond could be sited once the ball park plan is in place.

But the grant funding does carry the caveat of not allowing new development adjacent to the pond.

The money would come out of Natural Resources Damage Assessment funds stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The money would flow from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to the Northwest Florida Water Management District.

“The government bodies really believe this will help clean our bay,” said City Manager Jim Anderson.

Icing? There is no local match required on the grant.

The grant application is a revival of earlier applications to the NWFWMD for stormwater projects.

In the two prior years 2013 and 2015, the project was not funded.

 

Park workshop Wednesday

A joint workshop with the Board of County Commissioners and city commissioners will be held 6 p.m. ET Wednesday, April 11 in the Don Butler County Commission Chamber in the Robert Moore Annex adjacent to the Courthouse.

The workshop was called to discuss the proposed plans for the expansion of the 10th Street Ball Parks in Port St. Joe.

A county subcommittee issued a “conceptual” plan early this year, but that plan came under fire last month when a number of city residents living adjacent to the park complained about the potential impacts.

Particular issues were traffic to the expanded park, stormwater, safety and endangerment or elimination of fauna and wildlife in the proposed park corridor.

Commissioner Rex Buzzett, the city’s representative on the park subcommittee, has urged that consideration move from 10th Street to a proposed site across U.S. Highway 98 from the Gulf/Franklin Center.

Several city residents have agreed.

That plea continued Tuesday, with a petition presented with signatures from both residents and visitors opposed to the park expansion plan.

Another resident expressed frustration with the current location of the ballparks and the unruly and rude behavior of adults on their property.

Another cautioned that pickle ball courts are not a fit for residential areas due to the noise.

Commissioner David Ashbrook said the city does not need more parks, or an expanded park, but improvements to the existing 10th Street complex.

“Let’s not add a burden to our already stretched tax dollar by building another park,” Ashbrook said. “We need to improve what we have.”