Sarasota County officials have obtained a permit from the Florida Department of Transportation to allow a contractor to offload material dredged from Palmer Point Park and transport it to the contractor’s property in Palmetto, Public Works Project Manager Paul Semenac said Monday.
“It looks like the project will go forward,” he said.
However, the county still needs a permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection before the contractor can proceed as planned.
Last week, Semenac learned the FDEP staff member charged with reviewing the permit application would get to it this week, he said.
Therefore, the work at the Siesta bridge could begin soon.
Semenac reported to the Siesta Key Association Oct. 6 the contractor had begun removing non-native trees from Palmer Point Park, on north Casey Key, and burning them on the site. However, the contractor also needed to remove from the park spoil material consisting of sand, shell and rock. That material was dumped onto a shallow portion of the bay in the 1960s when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was dredging the Intracoastal Waterway. The county is working to restore the resulting spoil island and improve the quality of bay water in that area.
Sarasota County Commission Chairwoman Nora Patterson told the members of the Siesta Key Village Association Nov. 1 the restoration project “is a very positive thing.” She also added that Key residents long had objected to proposals to undertake similar restoration efforts on Skier’s Island and the Edwards Islands in Roberts Bay.
“The good thing about it is people will be able to see what one of these projects is about without having to go far,” Patterson said.
The contractor had planned to remove the material by truck, but objections from two different neighborhoods had led county staff and the contractor to propose transporting the material by barge to the FDOT right of way by the north bridge. There, if the FDEP gives its approval, the material will be removed from the barges and loaded onto trucks.
No flag personnel would be used to stop traffic going on or off the Key, Semenac had assured the SKA board and audience Oct. 6. The FDOT right of way is on the mainland, almost beneath the north bridge, he said. Patterson did not expect the work to disrupt traffic.
Still, Patterson, who lives on the north end of the Key, asked Semenac to hold a meeting with Bay Island Association residents before proceeding with the proposal for using the FDOT site.
Patterson sent an email Oct. 13 to county officials involved with the project, to let them know the Bay Island Association meeting had gone well.