Lack of money means no new Florida Communities Trust application cycle

Grant programs at the Florida Department of Community Affairs will not be accepting new applications this year for local parks and working waterfronts projects.

The Florida Communities Trust (FCT) matches local dollars to help build recreational trails, preserve cultural and historic sites and provide public access to waterways and beaches. Because of the lack of funding for the Florida Forever state land acquisition program, FCT will continue to work down the list of grant applications submitted two years ago, Program Manager Ken Reecy said.

Florida Forever is the largest land-buying program in the nation. The Legislature provided $300 million annually for the program from 1990 to 2008 but provided nothing last year and $15 million this year in the proposed 2010-11 state budget. FCT’s Parks and Open Space Grant Program receives 21 percent of Florida Forever, which was $63 million a year prior to 2009. Ninety-one cities and counties submitted applications in 2008 for grants. But without funding last year, no applications were requested. This year, the program will receive only $3.15 million. That’s about enough to provide one additional grant, Reecy said.

FCT’s Stan Mayfield Working Waterfronts Program was launched in 2008 with $7.5 million, or 2.5 percent of Florida Forever. In 2010-11, the program will receive only $375,000. That may be enough to provide funding for one more project among the 10 applications submitted in 2008, Reecy said.

The Parks and Open Space Grant Program, he said, is one of the most overlooked aspects of Florida Forever and perhaps one of its largest with each of the state’s $63 million being matched by $60 million in local dollars. “As Florida grows, as inevitably it will, the need for these sorts of projects — the FCT projects — will always be there,” he said.

(Story provided by The Florida Tribune. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be obtained by contacting