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Board: Use RESTORE money for boat ramps, park

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Funds will be spread out over 15 years

By Mike Wright

INVERNESS — Boat ramps and a new park in Homosassa are the focal points of the county’s proposed use of a multimillion dollar windfall resulting from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement with the federal government.

Citrus County commissioners narrowed their wish list Tuesday, budgeting for an estimated 

$17 million, most of it spread out over 15 years, that the county is eligible to receive from the RESTORE Act fund.

County Administrator Randy Oliver said projects funded in part by the money should serve an economic or environmental coastal purpose. He said the county should seek state grants to match the RESTORE amounts.

Topping the list is a multilane boat ramp on the Cross Florida Barge Canal. Oliver said the state may lease land to the county for the ramp and also provide $2.6 million to match an equal amount from the county, through RESTORE funds.

Commissioner Jeff Kinnard was alone in his attempts to remove the barge canal boat ramp from the list. Kinnard said the boat ramp will serve mainly residents of Levy County and draw business from Crystal River and Homosassa.

“I still think it’s a bad idea,” Kinnard said.

Board chairman Scott Carnahan disagreed. He said the current boat ramp is heavily utilized, as he saw when he was there on the day after Christmas.

“I counted around 75 vehicles,” he said. “The majority of them were Citrus County residents.”

And while the Riverwalk project had unanimous support for $2.1 million in RESTORE funding, Carnahan said he has doubts about the project.

“I want to see more of this project move along,” he said.

Commissioners were enthusiastic in providing funding to buy property for a new waterfront park in Homosassa.

“It’s time for this board to do something for Old Homosassa,” Carnahan said. “It’s been the red-headed stepchild for quite some time.”

Commissioners also agreed to use RESTORE money to buy the Sportsman’s Cove property, potentially for a boat ramp and parking.

Rodney MacRae, whose family-owned bait shop is next to the county boat ramp in Homosassa, said the Sportsman’s Cove property is zoned for 40 mobile homes.

“Please try to buy this land so it’s out of the developer’s hands,” he said.

Oliver said he will bring a report to commissioners in February or March that better defines the estimated costs and RESTORE requests.

The funds are divided into separate pots and some of the allocations must have approval from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com.


PROPOSED PROJECTS

Here is the list of the proposed projects county commissioners targeted for RESTORE funding:

* Cross Florida Barge Canal boat ramp: $5.3 million total cost; $2.6 million from RESTORE.

* New boat ramp in Crystal River: unknown total; $1 million from RESTORE.

* Purchase Sportsman’s Cove in Homosassa; unknown total: $2 million from RESTORE.

* Purchase Homosassa property for park; $1.7 million total: $1.7 million from RESTORE.

* Crystal River Riverwalk: $4.3 million total; $2.15 million from RESTORE.

* King’s Bay water quality project: $3.7 million total; $1.8 million from RESTORE.

* U.S. 19 force main sewer project to Duke property: $2.7 million total; $2.7 million from RESTORE.

* Artificial reef: $733,538 total; $550,154 from RESTORE.