BY JACK SHORT – Among the record setting number of items, worth a combined $461 million, that fell to Florida Governor Rick Scott’s veto pen, was a large appropriation for Gasparilla Island State Park.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection would have received, from the general fund, $1 million (non-recurring) for the assessment and evaluation of additional land that might be purchased “within the optimum park boundary.”
A representative of the DEP said in an email that generally, the optimum boundary is determined in part by public or private land that may, if acquired, improve the continuity of or access to the park itself, provide for expansion of recreational activities or additional resource protection. She did not provide information about the optimum boundary of GSP, specifically.
In his veto message, Scott said he did not allow the grant for Gasparilla Island State Park because “ … existing resources are available to determine the feasibility of purchasing additional lands.”
There is no additional information contained in the language of the budget itself (SB 2500 A) about the appropriation, in particular how the $1 million would be spent or what land might be assessed for purchase.
Mote Marine Laboratories, which has an office downtown and conducts research projects in the Charlotte Harbor area as part of its worldwide research activities, lost appropriations for $500,000 and a $600,000.
The former would have funded red tide research and was vetoed, according to Scott, because it prevented the Fish and Wildlife Commission’s research arm, the FWRI, from “ … contracting red tide research through a competitive bid process.”
The latter, for Mote’s infrastructure expansion, was part of a group of projects vetoed because they circumvented the state’s grant review process, or because funding for those projects was available elsewhere, according to Scott’s veto message.
He did not specify which applied to the Mote expansion.
Farther from home but still local, Charlotte County lost $1 million to expand the Charlotte County Justice Center.
Scott spared some projects, however, leaving a $2.5 million appropriation to Charlotte County for beach renourishment.
As of press time, neither a representative at the DEP nor a representative of the state budget committee were able to give additional information about the GSP appropriation.
The Beacon was unable to reach a representative of Mote as of press time.