Pinellas County leaders will discuss ways to spend $7.2 million windfall from Deepwater Horizon
The Pinellas County commissioners have ideas to spend $23 million, but they only have a $7.2 million windfall from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Now comes the tough part. On Thursday, the commissioners will hold a workshop to discuss the best way to spend the money. The group's wish list includes 89 projects worth nearly $23 million. The projects are spread across the county and range from $30,000 for hurricane preparedness to $2.6 million for affordable housing.
Some of the 89 proposals on a list released Wednesday include money for youth sports, sewer improvements, sidewalk and trail improvements and two ferry systems. Other big-ticket wishes include $2 million for a recreation center in Lealman and $2.4 million for the Heritage Village Collections Buildings. Coupled with their own ideas, commissioners compiled the list with input from the public.
Thursday's workshop "will be the first real discussion of specific project requests," said commission Chairman Charlie Justice.
After the group narrows the list, commissioners will seek public input before voting on the proposal at a future board meeting.
Since the 2010 spill devastated the gulf’s ecosystem, some want the money to only go toward environmental remedies.
Earlier this year, residents submitted more than 800 ideas through a now-closed online survey. Some common themes dominated the responses, including calls to dredge the Anclote River in Tarpon Springs; complete the Pinellas Trail loop; and pleas from several dozen respondents to buy a $750,000 forestry mower for Brooker Creek Reserve, which would thin undergrowth and cut firebreaks so controlled burns can occur.