Lido Key residents stressed the importance of a proposed Lido Beach renourishment project at an informational meeting with the Army Corps of Engineers today.
They also began to consider how to better communicate their feelings on the project, which would be a joint effort between the Army Corps and the city of Sarasota, to the general public and local officials.
Residents were concerned about detractors of the project on Siesta Key drowning out supporters of the project on Lido. The meeting came the morning after a contentious Siesta Key Association meeting with the Army Corps, with Siesta residents airing a series of concerns about the potential impact of the project.
The proposed project would renourish the Lido shoreline, which the state has evaluated as critically eroded, with sand taken from Big Pass, which has not been dredged before. Army Corps representatives at the meetings said models showed negligible effects on Siesta Key as a result of the proposed dredging, but several Siesta residents said they believed the project was far riskier than the engineers were making it out to be.
John Lambert, a member of the Lido Key Residents Association board, said a compelling argument could be made about the economic impact of Lido Beach in support of the project. If the beach continued to erode, Lambert said, the tourism revenue derived from the area would quickly dissipate.
“Tourist development shows Lido Key as a beach to come to,” Lambert said. “What are people going to come to, rocks? Ben Franklin Drive?"
Another resident suggested hiring a public relations specialist to provide outreach on Lido Key’s behalf. Lido Key Residents Association President Carl Shoffstall said the association’s board would consider the idea. At the very least, he said, the group had to ramp up its communication efforts.
Board members have been meeting with Sarasota County Commissioners to communicate their support for the proposed beach renourishment, and were scheduled to meet with the last of the commissioners today. Lambert said attendees at today’s meeting should email the commission with messages backing the project, as well.
The proposed project is still in its planning stages, and it will be more than a year at the earliest before federal funding for the renourishment efforts can be secured, according to Army Corps project manager Milan Mora. Still, Lido residents said they have to coordinate their outreach strategy now to get the project off the ground.
“We're going to have to get a game plan going here,” Shoffstall said.
Contact David Conway at [email protected].