By DOTTY NIST
There will be more discussion on funding recommended by the South Walton Tourist Development Council (TDC) to allow a local grass-roots artificial reef organization to proceed with permitting of 18 artificial reefs in the gulf and bay.
On May 14, the TDC voted unanimously to provide almost $395,000 from their current year budget toward costs of permitting 18 artificial reefs that the newly-formed South Walton Artificial Reef Association was proposing. The approval was conditioned on any NRDA or RESTORE Act funds obtained in reimbursement of the permitting costs being returned to the TDC budget.
To be permitted were four fish habitat/snorkeling reefs straddling the coastal sandbars, nine skin-diving reefs off the gulf, and five oyster reefs in the eastern Choctawhatchee Bay.
The TDC recommendation was subject to final approval by the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC), and the recommendation was placed on the BCC regular meeting agenda for May 28 at the Walton County Courthouse.
At the May 28 BCC meeting, Interim TDC Director Stan Sunday explained that the TDC would again consider the funding, in light of information obtained since the TDC vote indicating that reimbursement of the funds through NRDA or the RESTORE Act might not be possible.
That discussion is to take place at the 9 a.m June 11 TDC meeting at the South Walton Courthouse Annex. Sunday told the commissioners that he would have the TDC’s recommendation on the matter scheduled for the June 11 BCC meeting, although he did not yet know what the council’s decision would be.
The June 11 BCC meeting is scheduled for the same day as the TDC meeting, beginning at 4 p.m and also taking place at the South Walton Courthouse Annex.