Sarasota event to feature individual stations on components of the plan
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) will host a public meeting on the proposed Lido Beach Renourishment Project at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 30, in Sarasota, the department has announced.
The open-house style of session will be held at Fire Station No. 2, located at 2070 Waldemere St. in Sarasota, an FDEP news release says. The event is scheduled to end at 7:30 p.m.
“The meeting will provide an overview of the proposed project and an opportunity for the public to learn more information about specific components of [it], including engineering analysis, resource impacts and mitigation, fish and wildlife analysis, and permitting and proprietary criteria,” the news release explains. “Each project component will be housed at individual stations to allow for discussions with the experts.”
In September 2013, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) unveiled a 50-year proposal for the renourishment of South Lido Key by dredging Big Sarasota Pass. In March 2014, it and the City of Sarasota filed an application for a Joint Coastal Permit from FDEP. After providing two sets of responses to FDEP requests for more details and materials over the past two-and-a-half years, the USACE and the city learned this fall that FDEP will make a decision by Dec. 27 on whether it intends to issue or deny the permit.
A Siesta Key-based nonprofit, Save Our Siesta Sand 2 (SOSS2), has announced that it will hold a press conference at 5:45 p.m. on Nov. 30, outside the fire station. It has opposed the dredging of Big Pass since the city and the USACE announced details of the proposal for the renourishment project. The organization previously sought FDEP’s scheduling of a more formal public hearing this fall. That request was linked to SOSS2’s concerns about the state granting the necessary sovereign easements for the undertaking, which also involves construction of two groins on South Lido Key.
Peter van Roekens, chair of SOSS2, announced during the Nov. 1 Siesta Key Village Association meeting that FDEP Project Manager Greg Garis had informed him that the department would conduct this open-house type of session instead.
The most recent documentation submitted to FDEP by a consulting firm working with the USACE calls for about 1.2 million cubic yards to be removed from Big Pass to renourish the 1.6-mile stretch of South Lido Key. The project cost initially was estimated at about $22.7 million, but the most recent figure put it at approximately $19 million. No funding has been authorized by Congress for the undertaking, the USACE confirmed earlier this year.
A small USACE team will be attending the Nov. 30 meeting, Jacksonville District spokeswoman Susan Jackson told The Sarasota News Leader on Nov. 16. “We aren’t presenting information but will lend our support to the city in answering technical questions,” she wrote in an email.
In the meantime, members of the Lido Key Residents Association have been stressing the critically eroded state of South Lido Key — especially in the aftermath of then-Tropical Storm Matthew’s late August passage through the Gulf of Mexico. The sand added to the beach during an emergency renourishment project the city undertook in early 2015 has all but disappeared, Lido Key homeowners say.
The Siesta Key Association (SKA), which has joined SOSS2 and other Siesta organizations in pressing for the USACE to use a sand source other than Big Pass, is working to make sure all of its members are aware of the Nov. 30 event, Second Vice President Catherine Luckner told The Sarasota News Leader this week. The SKA will hold its next regular meeting at 4:30 p.m. the following day, she noted, so the FDEP session will be a major point of discussion for SKA members on Dec. 1.
The SKA conducts its meetings at St. Boniface Episcopal Church on the island.