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  1. Florida Politics

A look at how Pinellas County is spending BP settlement money

The Clearwater Ferry System is getting $80,000 of the BP oil spill settlement. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
The Clearwater Ferry System is getting $80,000 of the BP oil spill settlement. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]
Published Jan. 19, 2017

Dollars have been doled out across Pinellas County following months of deliberations on how to spend the $7.1 million settlement from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. County commissioners chose to split the money among 28 projects, ranging from health causes to artistic efforts to infrastructure and more. Here's the breakdown on each:

Pinellas County Housing Trust Fund

BP funds awarded: $1 million

Additional funds needed: n/a

Project: This $1 million will go toward the agency's general mission of providing funds for the development of affordable housing units countywide. The fund contributes to construction financing, down payment assistance and rehabilitation projects.

Pinellas County | stormwater/sewage

BP funds awarded: $1 million

Additional funds needed: n/a

Project: This money will be used to address countywide stormwater and sewer infrastructure issues. After the massive dumping of sewage by municipalities and accidental overflow through manholes during Hurricane Hermine this past summer, the county formed a task force to evaluate next steps. One recommendation has been to conduct a first-ever intrusion and infiltration study of problem areas to plan for specific upgrades.

PSTA, St. Petersburg

BP funds awarded: $589,000

Additional funds needed: none

Project: PSTA will build an electric bus charging station in downtown. It is now buying two zero-emission buses. The six-month pilot trial will determine future expansion to replace diesel buses currently in use.

Creative Pinellas, Largo

BP funds awarded: $500,000

Additional funds needed: n/a

Project: The nonprofit arts agency will use the funds to take traveling sculptures and installations on a tour of multiple locations over the next three years before placing them in permanent spaces.

East Lake Community Library

BP funds awarded: $350,000

Additional funds needed: $0

Project: A new parking lot will be installed between the library and its neighbor, Cypress Woods Elementary School, to increase space for visitors and safety for students. Engineers are still deciding on the design, but library director Lois Eannel says she hopes to see 30-40 spots added. The money will also cover landscaping, lighting and fencing. The library will be responsible for upkeep and maintenance.

• Pinellas County | Cross Bay Ferry

BP funds awarded: $350,000

Additional funds needed: $0

Project: The dollars cover Pinellas County's share of the high-speed pilot program between the Vinoy Basin in downtown St. Petersburg and the Tampa Convention Center in downtown Tampa. Other funding partners include the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg and Hillsborough County.

Community Service Association Palm Harbor

BP funds awarded: $294,000

Additional funds needed: n/a

Project: A little more than 2 acres of a vacant and wooded 4-acre parcel, owned by the county and leased by the association, will be developed for athletic fields.

Pinellas County | sports parks

BP funds awarded: $284,000

Additional funds needed: n/a

Project: Three new youth sports parks will be designed for the Seminole Junior Warhawks Athletic Association in unincorporated Seminole.

Wounded Warriors Abilities Ranch, Pinellas Park

BP funds awarded: $250,000

Additional funds needed: n/a

Project: Lurie Park will be developed to offer adaptive recreation and sports activities for disabled military veterans and others with limited physical abilities.

City of Dunedin

BP funds awarded: $250,000

Additional funds needed: $1,150,000

Project: The city purchased a nearly 8-acre piece of land adjacent to Hammock Park to save it from development following residents' outcry last year. The purchase was funded by an interest-bearing loan from the city utilities fund, and the money from the county will help repay part of it.

Pinellas County | rescue boats

BP funds awarded: $250,000

Additional funds needed: n/a

Project: The county will use these funds to buy a rescue boat for East Lake and supplement the purchase of a boat for the city of St. Pete Beach.

Downtown Palm Harbor Merchants Association

BP funds awarded: $222,000

Additional funds needed: n/a

Project: The money will pay for landscaping and the purchase of 66 street lights to install alongside 10 that have already been purchased.

City of Safety Harbor

BP funds awarded: up to $250,000

Additional funds needed: up to $250,000

Project: The county and the city have both committed to spend up to $250,000 to split the cost of a new bridge near Philippe Park, 2525 Philippe Parkway. The geometric design of the bridge that currently connects N Bayshore Drive to the south end of the park makes it difficult for bikers and runners to use, limiting access for some residents. The bridge will be wider, giving more residents access, while still deterring those riding motorized vehicles from using it. The change will allow the city to use the bridge for community races without having to shut down Philippe Parkway.

Metro Wellness Center, St. Petersburg

BP funds awarded: $150,000

Additional funds needed: $1,850,000

Project: Metro Wellness Center is a health organization that promotes diversity and offers a variety of services to the LGBT community, including free HIV/AIDS testing, medical care, counseling and social programs. The funds will help offset the cost of the acquisition and renovation of a building at 3251 Third Ave. N. The space will serve as the new headquarters and help the organization continue to push HIV/AIDS prevention in Pinellas. More than $700,000 of the additional money needed has been raised. Donations can be made at metrotampabay.org.

Veterans Memorial Plaza at Crest Lake Park, Clearwater

BP funds awarded: $150,000

Additional funds needed: $350,000

Project: The Tampa Bay Veterans Alliance in May unveiled a circular, brick Veterans Memorial Plaza in Crest Lake Park, but is now raising funds for the second phase. The group is working to build six bronze statues and additional walls for veterans' names as a tribute to the 50,000 service members living in North Pinellas. The project would also launch a children's scholarship and a fund for surviving veteran spouses in need.

Pinellas County | Gulf passes

BP funds awarded: $150,000

Additional funds needed: n/a

Project: As both the Grand Canal and Shell Key passes in the Gulf of Mexico near Tierra Verde grow narrower, the money will pay for an inlet management study to assess the problem and determine a solution.

Happy Workers Children's Center, St. Petersburg

BP funds awarded: $150,000

Additional funds needed: n/a

Project: Happy Workers, which has provided child care and preschool to children in south St. Petersburg for nearly 90 years, will use its funds to divide an existing room in the 100-year-old Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. building into two smaller rooms, interior painting, replace the carpet and renovate the kitchen. The funds may also be used to serve an additional 15 3-year-olds and hire two preschool teachers.

Be Safe Inc., Clearwater

BP funds awarded: $125,000

Additional funds needed: none

Project: Be Safe, the fundraising arm for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 11-1, will buy the building at 510 N Fort Harrison Ave. to use as a training center. The Clearwater flotilla is the only unit in Division 11, which spans Madeira Beach to Hudson, without a training center. The 70-member volunteer group assists the Coast Guard in water patrols, search and rescue, public affairs and environmental work.

Golden Generations, St. Petersburg

BP funds awarded: $100,000

Additional funds needed: First year operational cost $326,474

Project: Golden Generations has renovated a home in St. Petersburg's Lake Maggiore neighborhood to house four women aging out of the foster care system and help them transition to adulthood. Each will receive job training, money management help and emotional support. The My Sistah's Place program will create a waiting list for the 18- to 24-month program and work with employers and mentors to follow residents after their stays.

Tampa Bay Estuary Program, St. Petersburg

BP funds awarded: $100,000

Additional funds needed: $100,000

Project: The program will use its BP funds to study the hard marine floor in Pinellas County using sonar. While scientists have extensive data on sea grass beds, no studies have been done on the area's limestone ledges, leaving little information about what types of marine life live there. Once data is collected, researchers hope to be able to better preserve and protect this ecosystem.

City of Gulfport

BP funds awarded: $100,000

Additional funds needed: $250,000

Project: Gulfport is planning a mooring field in Boca Ciega Bay to combat unregulated anchoring by boaters, which has contributed to destruction of sea grass colonies and degradation of water quality due to improper trash and sewage disposal. The mooring field would create 25 buoys and accommodate boats up to 60 feet long.

Clearwater Ferry

BP funds awarded: $80,000 | Additional funds needed: n/a

Project: The private water taxi, launched in March 2015 to connect the mainland and Clearwater Beach, will use BP funds for maintenance and upgrades on its three vessels. In November, the city of Clearwater approved a two-year, $439,820 subsidy for the business. Officials say the public-private partnership is needed to reduce vehicle congestion on Clearwater Beach.

• Greater Mount Zion AME Church, St. Petersburg

BP funds awarded: $90,000

Additional funds needed: $21,600

Project: Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Gulfport, an African-American burial ground for Civil War veterans and private citizens, has suffered neglect over the years. More than 5,000 people are entombed there, including 150 in unmarked graves. The Historic Lincoln Cemetery Memorial Project will erect a historical marker, fencing, pay for maintenance and post headstones on unidentified graves.

City of Largo

BP funds awarded: $85,000

Additional funds needed: n/a

Project: The city will replace about 2,500 linear feet of asphalt with a concrete trail at George C. McGough Nature Park, 11901 146th St. N.

Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce

BP funds awarded: $78,000

Additional funds needed: n/a

Project: The chamber will buy new computer equipment and software, a new phone system, interior furniture and signage. Painting and landscaping will be done and event materials, such as a digital sign, barricades, a storage shed and golf carts, will be purchased.

Arts Conservatory for Teens, St. Petersburg

BP funds awarded: $70,000

Additional funds needed: $16,900 in annual operating costs

Project: ACT's Community Access Project for At Risk Youth gives underserved young people access to cultural activities outside of school. The St. Petersburg program will center on using arts education and self-confidence building to offset negative experiences for children in poverty. ACT, which currently works with 200 youth, will use its $70,000 to buy two 15-passenger vans to transport the students.

Tiki Gardens Beach Access, Indian Shores

BP funds awarded: $30,000

Additional funds needed: $0

Project: This rehab project in Indian Shores will rebuild the wooden dune walkover at the beach access, improve landscaping on both sides of Gulf Boulevard, restart irrigation, provide more seating and reroute water drainage from the showers away from the sidewalk. The area currently receives nearly no maintenance although it is one of the busiest beach accesses in the county.

City of Kenneth City

BP funds awarded: $22,500

Additional funds needed: $22,500

Project: The city will match the county's contribution to purchase, install and maintain three pond fountains to improve water clarity and cleanliness. Town Manager Matthew Campbell says the fountains are needed to prevent stagnation in the ponds, which are used primarily for stormwater management as well as for recreation.

Contact Megan Reeves at mreeves@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4153. Follow @mareevs. Contact Tracey McManus at tmcmanus@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4151. Follow @TroMcManus.

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