The first Lido Key Residents Association meeting of the season was less of a “welcome back” and more of a call to arms, as residents prepare to rally support for the biggest renourishment project in Lido Beach’s history.
The city, along with the Army Corps of Engineers, is working on a $22 million project that could renourish Lido Beach with sand dredged from Big Pass, off Siesta Key, and New Pass, off Longboat Key. Three groins would be installed in the sand to slow erosion.
City Engineer Alex DavisShaw said details are still fluid at this point, but already questions have been raised about aspects of the project. Members of the Lido Key Residents Association Board are determined to overcome the project’s skepticism.
Siesta Key, in particular, was singled out as a looming opposing force. Siesta Key residents have raised questions about the effects the dredging and the groins would have on Siesta Beach.
Big Pass has never been dredged, which adds to the uncertainty about the project’s impact.
Lido Key Residents Association board member John Kirker told the audience at Saturday’s meeting the success of the project depended on the support of Lido Key residents outweighing the opposition of Siesta Key residents.
“Siesta Key is energizing to defeat this plan,” Kirker said. “We, as a residents association, have to come up almost 100% in favor of this project once it’s ready to go, because we have a big fight on our hands.”
Sarasota County Commissioner Joe Barbetta, who attended Saturday’s meeting, voiced his support for Lido shoreline preservation. He discouraged engaging in a battle with Siesta Key; he suggested that Lido residents focus their efforts on education and lobbying commissioners.
DavisShaw made a similar presentation to the St. Armands Circle Association Tuesday. Diana Corrigan, the association’s executive director, raised a concern about how construction might affect business on the Circle. DavisShaw said environmental considerations could force the project to begin during season, and the construction time would probably total three to four weeks. Still, association member Andrew Vac said preserving the beach was good for St. Armands in the long term.
“The beach is why people come here,” Vac said. “St. Armands is lovely, but the beach brings people in.”
DavisShaw said the project was still three to five years away from moving forward while the city waits for federal funding, but Lido Key Residents Association board member John Lambert said the group would continue to ramp up its efforts in the short term.
“We’ll continue to meet with all the commissioners and anybody it is recommended to us that we talk to,” Lambert said. “Hopefully, we’ll get a commitment out of these people they’re going to support this project.”
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