The Florida Department of Environmental Protection expedited and issued a permit to Sarasota County to stabilize part of a sinking Siesta Key street. The project was completed in September.
But just south of the fresh asphalt on Beach Road, property owners are facing a similar situation. Above-average choppy Gulf of Mexico conditions Oct. 2 sent seawater into driveways and yards. The consistently high surf has forced some to carve landscaping away from the east side of the road, said Jean Furlong, who manages a nearby property owned by John Roberti.
Sarasota County stacked sand bags on the cracked street Oct. 3, after County Commissioner Nora Patterson forwarded Furlong’s concerns to staff members. They will subsequently be filling crevasses while the county consults with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to secure funding for a long-term repair, which county staff has estimated to cost between $800,000 and $1 million.
A Hazard Mitigation Grant would cover 75% of project costs, which are broken into three categories: project scoping, pre-construction activities and construction activities. FEMA caps federal assistance at $150,000 for two of the categories for erosion-control plans, which include the architecture and engineering, and permitting phases of a potential Beach Road project.
FEMA representatives met with Sarasota County Oct. 2, to discuss funding opportunities for a stepped-face soil cement revetment, which involves building large steps reaching into the surf to make waves less powerful.
“As we predicted, it went very well,” said Sarasota County Operations Supervisor Carol Alder. Now, a FEMA engineer will write a Hazard Mitigation plan by Oct. 12, which will then be submitted to the state for approval, Alder explained. The state will then have 60 days to review the plan and either approve, reject or ask for more information about it.
The FDEP is currently reviewing 59 permits from various sources in Sarasota County. And the agency made permitting difficult for Fred Derr and Co. Inc., a local company that performed three similar revetments on Casey Key, with one taking nearly three years.
“I’m just happy that something is being considered,” Furlong said. “I’ve always been assured that something like that would happen, but I’ve never heard when.”