The Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council, tasked with disbursing some $708 million in civil penalties against BP for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, met Wednesday to approve 46 projects to include in a draft multi year implementation plan (MIP, also a state expenditure plan, SEP) worth a total of $315,358,331.

The projects are generally economic or environmental in nature and will be funded through the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund once the council finalizes the plan after a public comment period and gains approval from the U.S. Department of Treasury and in some cases, the federal Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council.

All but one of the projects in the draft plan were approved unanimously by the 10-member council, which comprises Baldwin County Commissioner Frank Burt, Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier, Bayou La Batre Mayor Terry Downey, Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft, Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon, Fairhope Mayor Karin Wilson, Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson, Mobile County Commission President Merceria Ludgood, Alabama State Port Authority Executive Director Jimmy Lyons and former U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, who is serving as a liaison to Gov. Kay Ivey.

The Draft MIP will be the culmination of four years worth of work for the council, which chose this round of projects from around 370 submitted for review.

“If we can get the draft written in two to three weeks, then allow another 45 days for public comments, then a few weeks to review the comments … we’re probably in the vicinity of four to six months before we see any of the funds,” said council Chairman Jimmy Lyons, who earlier explained how the state currently has access to about $183 million from BP, but expects annual payments of around $40 million through fiscal year 2031.

Lagniappe | Jo Bonner, liaison to Gov. Kay Ivey, listens to AGCRC Chairman Jimmy Lyons Monday.

READ OUR SERIES ON THE RESTORE ACT

“We had a lot of work sessions and there was a lot of discussions back and forth,” he said about the selections. “I think we have a good array of projects, everybody is not going to be happy with every project, but we have some good projects and we think all of them provide significant benefits to the Gulf Coast region.”

Each member secured several projects directly benefiting the areas they represent, but they also agreed to seek funding for six proposals deemed “regional” in nature, including $28.7 million toward the planned $52 million automotive shipping facility at the Port of Mobile and $11.3 million toward the $19.8 million cost of acquiring rights of way for the planned extension of the Foley Beach Express to Interstate 65.

Other big-ticket items include $56.8 million for the Baldwin County Commission to improve road infrastructure in five heavily trafficked areas between Spanish Fort and Orange Beach, $29 million to the city of Bayou La Batre to rebuild its aging docks, $14 million for the town of Dauphin Island to build a business district along Aloe Bay, $11.7 million to the city of Mobile for the Three Mile Creek restoration, and $10 million to the city of Fairhope for the first phase of enhancements to its substandard sewer system.

Sewer projects on both sides of the bay are tentatively funded in the draft MIP, as well as other efforts to improve water quality such as $10 million to pave dirt roads in South Mobile County, $1.1 million for stormwater enhancements in West Mobile County and $3 million for stormwater mapping and resiliency in the city of Mobile.

Following rules established by the Gulf Coast Ecosytem Restoration Council, each of the projects had to exhibit some element of economic development, environmental restoration or tourism promotion. Speaking after the meeting, Mobile Baykeeper Executive Director Casi Callaway said she had mixed feelings about the proposals.

“There are some really, really good [projects], then there are a lot of roads,” she said. In January, as the council was selecting projects to consider, Callaway likened road and port projects to pork, suggesting they are better suited to receive federal transportation funding or seek private investment.

“All of the blueway projects, the greenway, the restoration projects, they are fabulous,” she said Wednesday. “But it seems they missed some really good opportunities. There are some really good projects that didn’t make the cut that seem like no-brainers,” she said, using as an example a $10 million request to purchase private land on the west end of Dauphin Island.

But Callaway admitted some projects left out of the initial draft MIP may be availble for funding through other sources, or possible through the council again when another round of funding is available down the line. But she said she is also “disappointed” with the council’s level of public engagement throughout the process, which leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

By location, the projects approved by the council yesterday are as follows:

Baldwin County
• New Stream-Gaging Station on Fish River at County Road 32, $87,250
• Lillian Park Beach Habitat and Shoreline Protection, $626,460
• Longevity, Stability & Water Quality Improvements, Bon Secour DMDA, $340,744
• Baldwin County ALDOT capacity improvements, $56,800,000
• Fort Morgan Parkway Trail Extension, $4,433,600
• Meaher Park Improvements, $3,450,000

Bayou La Batre
• Redevelop City Docks, $21,028,000
• Extension of Effluent Force Main from Bayou La Batre WWTP, $15,600,000
• Water Distribution System Upgrades, $5,306,000
• Collection System/Lift Station Upgrades, $12,805,000

Chickasaw
• City of Chickasaw Sewer Rehabilitation Project, $1,250,000

Dauphin Island
• Aloe Bay Harbor Town, $14,346,382
• Aloe Bay/Mississippi Sounds Water Quality Enhancement Project, $11,500,000
• Water Distribution System Upgrades, $5,306,000
• Collection System/Lift Station Upgrades, $12,805,000

Eastern Shore
• Eastern Shore Sanitary Sewer Overflows Prevention Plan, $1,000,000

Fairhope
• Fairhope Area Community-Based Comprehensive Land Use Plan, $650,000
• Working Waterfront and Greenspace Restoration Project, $6,200,000
• Fairhope Sewer Upgrade Phase I, $10,000,000

Gulf Shores
• Ambassadors of the Environment, $9,748,254
• Little Lagoon Restoration Project, $5,995,686

Mobile
• Historic Africatown Restoration Center, $3,581,762
• Perch Creek Area Sanitary Sewer Trunk Line CIPP (MAWSS), $3,548,590
• Innovating St. Louis Street: Mobile’s Technology Corridor, $5,885,500
• Mobile Area Stormwater Mapping & Resiliency Planning, $3,000,000
• Mobile Greenway Initiative, $9,700,000
• Three Mile Creek Watershed Restoration, $11,730,000
• One Mobile: Reconnecting People, Work and Play through Complete Streets, $1,250,000

Mobile County
• Mobile County Blueway Trail Development, $8,000,000
• Dirt Road Paving (Sediment Reduction) Program, $10,093,120
• Implementing Stormwater Management Improvements for Toulmin Springs Branch and Gum Tree Branch, $1,187,130

Mount Vernon
• Mt. Vernon Water Treatment Plant, $1,500,000

Orange Beach
• Environmental Restoration of Cotton Bayou and Terry Cove Canals, $500,00
• Gulf Coast Wildlife Recovery and Interpretive Center Feasibility and Design, $275,000
• Gulf Coast Engineering Research Station (Auburn University), $9,000,000
• Expansion of the Orange Beach Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center, $183,500
• Alabama Point Seawall Repair, $2,488,000
• Canal Road Improvements, $1,842,270
• Orange Beach North Sewer Force Main Upgrade, $5,195,000

Regional
• Characterization and Delineation of Significant Sand Resource Areas Essential for Beach Restoration, Offshore Alabama (Geological Survey of Alabama), $922,500
• Development for a Regional Strategic Plan for the Coastal Alabama Region (Coastal Alabama Partnership), $562,500
• Alabama Gulf Seafood Marketing Program, $2,852,135
• Baldwin Beach Express I-10 to I-65 Extension Right of Way Acquisition, $11,340,000
• Replacement of Substandard Facilities at the ADEM Coastal Office & Mobile Field Office, $5,862,717
• Alabama State Port Authority Automotive Logistics RO-RO Terminal, $28,767,710

Satsuma
• Northwest Satsuma Water and Sewer Project, $1,760,700

Below is a presentation provided courtesy of the Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council briefly outlining their work and a description of each approved proposal.