MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Alabama is moving forward with plans to use oil spill settlement funds to build a 350-room hotel and conference center at Gulf State Park.
Gov. Robert Bentley said he hopes the beachfront facility, intended to handle meeting of up to 1,500 people, can open by 2018.
Bentley says many beachfront conferences now go to Florida because there is not a meeting place large enough on the Alabama coast.
The Gulf Restoration, a New Orleans-based environmental group, has filed a lawsuit to block the project, arguing that it is an inappropriate use of funds meant to restore the oil-stained coast.
The state argues the project will make up for lost recreation during the spill and will be an ecologically sensitive development.
The $135 million project includes dune restoration and bicycle trails.