State to reimburse city up to $1,747,604
In approving one of its Consent Agendas of routine business items, the Sarasota City Commission on Aug. 19 unanimously approved a $1,747,604 agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) for the planned long-range Lido Key Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction Project.
No board member commented on the issue before Vice Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch made the motion to approve all but three items of Consent Agenda No. 1, which had been pulled for discussion. Commissioner Shelli Freeland Eddie seconded the motion.
A staff memo provided to the board members in advance of the Aug. 19 meeting reminded the commissioners that the city this fiscal year was awarded the extra $1,747,604 from FDEP. The memo pointed out that the city last summer “submitted a request to FDEP [for] some additional funding for Lido Beach as we were using some of the existing FDEP grant funding to help with the interim Lido Project.”
In April, the city completed an emergency renourishment on Lido, using about 205,000 cubic yards of sand from New Pass. That effort officially was a response to damage inflicted on the shoreline by Hurricanes Irma and Hermine, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) picking up part of the expense.
On March 18, the City Commission unanimously approved the shifting of FDEP grant funds for the planned long-range Lido Project to help pay for the emergency initiative. City Engineer Alexandrea DavisShaw said the latter project was expected to cost $3,943,000. (The original estimate was $3.5 million, according to a June 4, 2018 funding agreement between the city and FDEP for the long-term project.)
A table included in the agreement approved on Aug. 19 put the total estimated federal cost of the Lido Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction Project at $13,466,529. That includes $248,000 for the monitoring of the effects of the initiative on marine life after the construction has been completed.
FDEP and the city each would pay a total of $1,747,604, the table noted, including $76,000 each for the first year of monitoring.
The city’s portion of the project funding would come out of Sarasota County Tourist Development Tax revenue set aside for the municipality for beach renourishment.
The agreement approved this week calls for FDEP to reimburse the city after completion of the project.
The total cost of construction for the long-range initiative was put at $16,561,737, with the city and FDEP each covering $1,671,604 of that and the federal government picking up the remainder.
However, on Aug. 9, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) cancelled the solicitation package for the Lido project that it had issued on May 16. It cited a federal statute in rejecting the two “unreasonably high” bids it had received for the undertaking, which city leaders had expected to get underway in October or November.
In the document it released after opening the bids on July 30, the USACE listed its total expected cost at $14,149,000. The lower of the two bids was $22,135,100.
Near the end of the Aug. 19 City Commission meeting, City Manager Tom Barwin said he believed all of the board members had been briefed on the situation. Nonetheless, he explained, the USACE staff members are “in the process of rebidding that project. We’re hoping those bids’ll be back on the street in a couple of weeks.”
He added that city staff remains hopeful that the work on Lido will get underway “later this year.”
Facets of the FDEP agreement
The FDEP agreement the City Commission approved this week says that the department “has determined that 100 percent of the non-federal Project cost is eligible for state cost sharing. Therefore, the Department’s financial obligation shall not exceed the sum of $1,747,604 for this Project or up to 50 percent of the non-federal Project cost, if applicable, for the specific eligible Project items listed, whichever is less.”
The agreement notes that its effective date was July 1, 2018 and that the expiration date is Sept. 30, 2024.
The City of Sarasota was co-applicant with the USACE for the state permit for the long-range Lido project, which calls for the removal of up to 1.3 million cubic yards of sand from Big Sarasota Pass to renourish approximately 1.6 miles of South Lido Key Beach. FDEP approved the permit in June 2018.
However, two lawsuits remain underway — one in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court; the other, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, in Tampa. Both were filed to try to stop the removal of sand from Big Pass, which never has been dredged.
On June 4, 2018, the City Commission unanimously approved a resolution that committed its support to the 50-year stabilization of the Lido Beach that the USACE formally unveiled in September 2013 at a Sarasota County Coastal Advisory Committee meeting.
That resolution explained that the Lido shoreline between Monument R-34 and “the southern tip of Lido Key at Big Sarasota Pass,” Monument R-44.5, “continues to severely erode resulting in minimal beach width …”
The monuments are part of a system used to denote specific locations along shorelines.
The resolution added, “[I]t is required by the [FDEP], Bureau of Beaches and Coastal Systems for the City to indicate support of the proposed project, ability to provide the necessary local match, and willingness to serve as local sponsor.”