Emergency renourishment project on Lido Key Beach finally underway

High seas resulting from passage of cold front caused temporary delay, city manager reports

Equipment sits idle on Lido Key Beach in mid-November. Photo courtesy City of Sarasota

The Lido Key short-term beach renourishment project is officially underway, Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin reported during the City Commission’s regular meeting on Nov. 19.

In his Nov. 16 newsletter, he had written that the dredging for the emergency initiative was “expected to begin within the next several days, after a cold front moves through Sarasota and the high seas die down.”

The contractor, Coastal Dredging Co. of Hammond, La., began staging heavy machinery on the beach last week, Barwin continued. “This is in preparation to start returning sand to Lido Beach [and] restoring a buffer to protect the public infrastructure including the pavilion, pool and restrooms.”

During the Nov. 19 City Commission meeting, Barwin added that the work would take about 12 weeks. It will stretch from a point about 100 feet north of the parking area for the Lido Pavilion and Pool to Ted Sperling Park, he said.

Orange fencing will “direct pedestrians in the safe area,” Barwin noted.

Crews will work from north to south, Barwin pointed out in the newsletter. “The beach will remain open to the public throughout the restoration process,” he wrote.

Coastal Dredging is expected to remove about 185,000 cubic yards of sand from New Pass for the project. Documents the city submitted to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection during the summer said the pass has 222,500 cubic yards of sand available.

Under an interlocal agreement, the city and the Town of Longboat Key can alternate dredging New Pass for beach renourishment initiatives. Longboat last took sand from the pass in 2016.

Barwin also talked again at the commission meeting about his hope that the emergency project would keep Lido Beach stabilized until the first step of a 50-year initiative with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can begin. That long-range project, Barwin reported recently, is set tentatively for the fall of 2019. It calls for removal of sand from Big Sarasota Pass for the first renourishment of approximately 1.6 miles of South Lido Key Beach.

However, two nonprofit organizations based on Siesta Key have continued to fight the proposal for dredging Big Pass, out of concern that irrevocable damage to that barrier island and the waterway itself will result. Save Our Siesta Sand 2 (SOSS2) plans to file a federal lawsuit late this month. The Siesta Key Association (SKA) has a 60-minute hearing set for the afternoon of Dec. 20 in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court in Sarasota on an amended complaint it filed against the city in October.

Big Pass never has been dredged.

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