Gov. Kay Ivey spent her birthday along the coast to announce more than $41 million in funding for 17 projects in Mobile and Baldwin counties using federal money from the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA).
“This funding must support natural resource protection and public access projects,” Ivey said at a press conference at Five Rivers Delta Resource Center in Spanish Fort. “It will ensure that Coastal Alabama remains a place of beauty that remains accessible to all Alabamians and our visitors.”
GOMESA funding comes from royalties paid for oil and natural gas leases off the Gulf Coast.
The event’s setting in Spanish Fort was appropriate, given that the largest project was the city’s acquisition of the 142-acre Cypress Point property. The total cost of the project is $8.5 million. Mayor Mike McMillan praised the project, saying it would help the city preserve the area from future development.
The city of Mobile was awarded the second largest grant, to improve access along the waterfront downtown. The total cost of the project is $8 million.
“Thanks to Gov. Ivey for continuing to invest in the city of Mobile to preserve our beautiful natural resources and ensure access to the waterways that make our city such a special place to live,” Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson said in a statement. “These GOMESA funds will help make it possible for citizens to enjoy the Mobile Riverfront for generations to come.”
The funding will also be used to acquire public access to Cedar Point Park and Pier in Mobile County and go toward funding the University of South Alabama’s Healthy Ocean Initiative. Those projects will cost $2.2 million and $2 million respectively.
This funding will play a critical role in establishing the University of South Alabama’s new School of Marine and Environmental Sciences as a state and regional leader in addressing challenges facing the coast, while enhancing our ability to educate and train the next generation of environmental and marine scientists,” USA Interim President John Smith said in a statement. “Through this grant, Gov. Kay Ivey and (Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources) Commissioner Chris Blankenship are supporting coastal protection and fisheries conservation now and in the future.”
Blankenship said during the press conference that a portion of the funding would be going to local utilities as part of a new statewide initiative. The Bayou la Batre Utilities Board would be getting about $1.6 million for sewer system improvements and Daphne Utilities would be getting about $600,000 for a lift station expansion at D’Olive Creek.
Mobile County Water, Sewer and Fire Protection will also receive about $1.6 million for an expansion of service in South Mobile County.
Other projects receiving GOMESA funding include: Water quality improvement in the Magnolia River Watershed in Baldwin County, expansion of a bayside park in Daphne, habitat protection on Dauphin Island, nature park enhancements in Foley, a nature park in Fairhope, restoration of Corn Creek Tributary in Loxley, the installation of litter traps in the coastal area and facility improvements at Five Rivers.
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