Port Authority considers RESTORE projects

Published: Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 11:47 AM.

Port director Tommy Pitts said the environmental problems are strictly wetlands delineation.

Board member Patrick Jones agreed that the Port Authority’s focus must be in keeping the barge bulkhead land, which is along the Intracoastal Canal.

“Our first priority is to secure the land where that bulkhead is located and the sands are running,” Jones said.

As was emphasized during last week’s meeting, the county is essentially working somewhat in the dark. Federal rules have not come down from the Department of the Treasury, which will oversee disbursement of funds under RESTORE.

In addition, with no trial date and the potential that a trial could take years, there is no guarantee the county will see funds in the near-term. There is also the possibility that BP may negotiate the civil penalty with the Department of Justice in such a way that renders RESTORE all but moot.

Port Authority board members were encouraged to look at the Port of Port St. Joe as a regional project which would allow it to tap into multiple pots of money for various efforts – such as environmental or economic development of Northwest Florida.

“I really believe it will happen, that the port will come back to Port St. Joe, and that has regional impact,” Costin said.

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