Walton County Receives $7 Million in Settlement Money from BP

By  | 

Nearly four years after the Deepwater Horizon Rig explosion and oil spill, the effects are still fresh in the memories of Walton County business leaders.

"People were leaving the area, or they weren't coming to the area,” said Jim Bagby, Executive Director of the Walton County Tourist Development Council. “It was mainly because they were concerned, and not because of the presence of actual sheets of oil on the beach. It was just a very nervous time."

Last Friday the Walton County Commissioners and Tourist Development Council leaders received checks from BP for a little more than $7 million.

The money settles Walton County's lawsuit against BP.

About $4 million goes to the TDC, about $3 million to the county.

Both are figuring out how use the money.

"We have gotten some great ideas so far. One was for the money to go towards parking in this destination and the other was to make an 8 to 10 foot wide bike path from Bay to Okaloosa County,” stated Bagby.

"One of the topics of discussion as far as the money goes is to replace an aging vehicle and its fleet which has gone neglected for several years,” said Stan Sunday, Deputy County Administrator for Walton County.

This isn't the TDC’s first BP check.

The oil giant sent a little more than $2 million in 2011.

They still have not used that money.

The TDC may survey residents to get their thoughts about spending the settlement money.