Palmetto seeking BP money for MLK Park

jdeleon@bradenton.comMarch 24, 2013 

PALMETTO ­­­­­-- Palmetto officials are joining other local governments in applying for grants funded by BP oil spill money to help with the costs of a new city park.

Palmetto's Community Redevelopment Agency has applied for $200,000 through the Restore Act to be used toward the planned Martin Luther King Jr. Park, which will be designed to help stop the continuous polluting of the Manatee River because of storm water, according to director Jeff Burton.

"We are not asking for much," Burton said. "That money will be used to enhance the park."

The 12-acre park will surround the Palmetto Youth Center, 501 17th St. W.

According to Burton, Gov. Rick Scott's office asked the three national estuary programs to get together and put an application out to local governments for projects for the money the state is expecting to receive as a result of the BP oil spill in 2010.

There are several categories, one of which is storm water storage and pretreatment.

The three estuary programs then used a scale to rank projects, takings goals and objectives into consideration.

Palmetto ranked a 6 in the storm water storage and pretreatment category, the highest in its category.

"It's a great number to have on the ranking," Burton said. "This tells Palmetto that its project was a great project."

The lower number a project scores, the better. Projects scoring more than 8 will likely not be funded.

"We received a confirmation at the local level that we were ranked the highest in the three estuary programs," Burton said. "We will be first in line."

Manatee County also has been involved in the applications.

"Any efforts to reverse or reduce the continuing storm water-driven pollution occurring at our surface streams and conveyances (ditches) will benefit Manatee River and lower Tampa Bay," said Charlie Hunsicker, director of the Manatee County Natural Resources Department.

According to Hunsicker, Manatee County also submitted its own projects, totaling $67 million, to the estuary programs.

"This is an excellent example of small steps on our longer journey to cure our number one source of pollution for our bays, rivers and estuaries," Hunsicker said.

The pedestrian-friendly MLK park will run along the Carr Drain. The Carr Drain acts like a canal that runs north and south, meandering through the city collecting storm water and draining into the Manatee River.

After completion of the project, the drain will flow into the storm water pond that will be created to store and pre-treat storm water before heading to the river.

According to Hunsicker, the pond will filter pollutants from the water.

The storm water pond also will feature a fountain in the middle to make it look aesthetically pleasing to those visiting the park. There also will be trails running through the park and around the pond.

The project, which Burton says is in the design stage, is a joint effort by the CRA, city of Palmetto and the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

The total costs of the park is expected to be between $1 million and $1.3 million, half of which will be provided by the SWFWMD.

Jessica De Leon, Herald Reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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