City plans to submit three projects for initial Restore Act funds

Matt Algarin

With the first disbursement of Restore Act funds expected to be released to Okaloosa County soon, city leaders in Destin have three project applications lined up.

Okaloosa County is expected to see $6.4 million as part of the initial Restore Act funds which will be provided to counties that were directly impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. The initial Pot 1 funds, as they are being referred, must be used to rehabilitate the “injured” environment and economy.

The Okaloosa Restore Act Committee (ORAC) was tasked with creating developing the criteria which would be used to vet projects before they are ultimately set before the Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners for final approval or denial.

Of the $6.4 million in funds, 15 percent ($960,000) has been allocated for small projects under $90,000 and the other 85 percent ($5.4 million) for larger projects more than $90,000. Both project have their own specific scoring metrics.

In Destin, city leaders agreed to move forward with two large projects and one small project.

The first project, the most shovel-ready, is the renovation of Clement Taylor Park along Calhoun Avenue. City staff will request a total of $750,000 to demolish the existing restrooms and playground and reconfigure the park, adding new restrooms with a connecting pavilion and install an ADA compatible playground. Old pilings would also be removed from the water, the pier and seawall would be refurbished, and the storm water exfiltration system expanded, according to city documents.

“The hidden treasure of our park system, Clement Taylor, is in need of a complete restoration,” City Manager Greg Kislea told The Log. “The project will enhance this facility for generations of our residents and visitors to come.”

The second large project is one that’s already in the city’s 5-Year Capital Improvement Plan, construction of Capt. Royal Melvin Heritage Park and Plaza.

A request would be made for $1 million, which would fund the construction of this harbor-front park.

“Royal Melvin Heritage Park and Plaza will create the gateway to the boardwalk and harbor where the fishing fleet has operated for over a century,” Kisela said.

The small project was listed as a partnership with the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Department for the implementation of an “eco-tourism way-finding and marketing initiative” for Destin and the county.

Applications for funding can be submitted through May 8 at