Save Our Siesta Sands 2 (SOSS2), a nonprofit formed to oppose dredging Big Pass, made an artistic plea for its cause last month. Wednesday, the group took a more litigious route.
Carlton Fields Jorden Burt attorney Don Hemke, who represents the organization, sent a letter May 16 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers citing concerns about the Lido Key Beach Renourishment Project. In it, Hemke questions the Corps' Big Pass dredge studies' compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and the Water Resources and Development Act of 1999.
The letter encourages the Corps to conduct a formal Environmental Assessment and Economic Impact Study, and hold a formal public hearing "in which Sarasota citizens can ask the Corps questions and receive answers and make public comment."
Hemke also represents the Colony Beach & Tennis Association in its legal battles on Longboat Key.
SOSS2 released a music video aimed at building opposition for plans to dredge Big Pass in April. “Big Pass Piano” featured Manhattan, NY.,-based professional singer and voice coach Maria Lane Sulimirski performing the Beatles song “Let It Be” on a Hammond organ resting in ankle-deep water on the Big Pass shoal.
SOSS2, which Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce member Maria Bankemper launched in December 2013 through the creation of a Facebook page, represents a group of Siesta residents opposed to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to mine the Big Pass shoal for Lido Beach sand.
When the group’s Facebook page was launched, Bankemper said the movement was a throwback to the Save Our Sands group, which in the early 1990s successfully thwarted an attempt to mine the Big Pass shoal to renourish Venice Beach. The group used litigation and high-profile stunts such as human chains on Siesta Beach to gain publicity and ultimately achieve its goals.