In hopes of securing coveted monies from Triumph Gulf Coast, Inc., Apalachicola volunteers came together last week to submit four applications for consideration, totaling $4.75 million.
While there is no guarantee that all, or even some, of the proposals will be funded out of the multi-million dollar RESTORE Act monies that stem from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the proposals illustrate the scope of community priorities, and include the construction of workforce housing, infrastructure improvements and an innovate solar power facility
The work of the committee so pleased Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson that on Tuesday night, he secured a unanimous vote of the city commission to keep the committee in place, under the coordination of City Planner Cindy Clark.
Also serving on the committee has been former City Engineer Bill McCartney, solar power enthusiast Kevin Begos, Bring Me A Book founder Michaelin Watts, Main Street Director Augusta West and Chair Jim Bachrach, and local activist Bonnie Davis.
“They worked from morning to night to put this together,” said Johnson. “I’ll challenge anyone who questions their love for this city in my presence. These people love this community, and they didn’t cost us a dime.
“These proposals will have a tremendous impact on this community long term.
The largest of the grant proposals is for $2.7 million and if granted, would fund deficient infrastructure needs to support economic growth and improve water quality to the Apalachicola Bay. It was also use an innovative method for treating stormwater downtown through the use of green-initiative pervious parking.
“These infrastructure deficiencies, combined with a lack of sufficient parking, has resulted in a stoppage of new commercial construction in the downtown district because the city’s infrastructure is not adequate to support proposed growth. This proposal is targeted at funding wastewater and potable water facilities, stormwater and parking infrastructure improvements that serve downtown,” reads the proposal.
It also notes that a leaking water main under a major road is of concern, since it can lead to inadequate flow to the only fire hydrant that serves a section of the main commercial district.
At $1.3 million, the stormwater retrofit is the largest chunk of this grant proposal, with the “Green Initiative Pervious Parking” at $325,000, using a quarter-acre of city-owned right of way in the Bowery district to design and build a small pocket of pervious parking to treat urban stormwater runoff.
A second grant proposal would further renovate the Johnson Complex, enabling it to expand needed education and training for seafood worker families, providing child literacy services. These services will be directed toward promoting children's success. This proposal, in conjunction with the schools, is for $1.75 million, of which $400,000 is designated for The Children's Learning Center.
General improvements throughout the Johnson Complex will consist of roof repairs, plumbing and drainage pipe repairs, mold inspection and treatment, fire safety system, updating of heating and air conditioning and renovation of the kitchen.
A third proposal, for $900,000, seeks to implement a series of solar power farms that are projected to immediately reduce utility costs and save the city more than $1.9 million over the next 30 years.
“This will complement an emerging tourism-related economy; will reduce city and ratepayer bills; and will provide job training for local young people,” reads the proposal.
One solar array will be at the city wastewater treatment plant, while a second would be at the Johnson complex. The solar wastewater portion will provide 811,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, reducing the city’s monthly bills by more than 50 percent, while the city complex solar provide 137,000 kilowatt hours per year, according to the grant proposal.
The fourth proposal would be for workforce housing on the Hill, through the creation of a $400,000 revolving fund that would be used to acquire, restore or build new homes. This would be done in partnership with the school district as well as the non-profit Save Our Shotguns Apalachicola, Inc., which would provide a $100,000 match in the form of a line of credit. The city would provide land and the schools would provide land as well as develop a vocational education program for the building trades.
At the requested level of funding, it is estimated that four to five houses would be in the pipeline at any given point in time, and buyers would be approved through an independent, open selection process. There will be resale restrictions.