Sarasota County Commissioner and Siesta Key resident Nora Patterson is frustrated that a Beach Road drainage improvement project has been delayed once again.
The project, which was slated to begin after Easter, now won’t begin until after the Fourth of July holiday.
County staff’s Public Works Department presented a quick presentation at the commission’s Tuesday regular meeting that, in short, explained that the project has been pushed back again and now won’t be complete until the end of the year.
The $975,000 project, which was wrought with permit delays from project partner Southwest Florida Management District (SWFMD), will improve drainage along the road and reduce runoff into the Gulf once completed. It’s being paid for with penny surtax dollars and SWFMD grant monies.
The goal now is to begin the project by Aug. 1 and have it completed no sooner than Dec. 31. County staff plans to coordinate with the Parks and Recreations Department to keep construction as clean as possible, so it’s not a deterrent to Siesta Beach Park and Siesta Key beachgoers.
The project originally was proposed in 2005 when high levels of bacteria were found in Gulf waters at Siesta Beach Park, which resulted in a series of no-swim advisories being posted at the public beach.
County investigations revealed the primary problem was stormwater runoff from Beach Road and the Siesta Beach parking lot.
The main goal of the project centers on constructing an improved stormwater system to collect and treat runoff in that area.
“I thought we were going to be ready to go after Easter,” Patterson said. “We’ve been working on this forever.”
The commission first approved the longtime project in February 2008, and it was originally supposed to be complete by March 2012, but modified permits have delayed the project.
“It’s just a shame this project now pushes into the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays,” Patterson said.
Although staff said it doesn’t anticipate any conflicts, Patterson still made it known she wasn’t happy with the delays.
“You just kind of want to put your best foot forward when visitors come to see our beach,” Patterson said. “But I guess there’s nothing we can do about it.”