The Sarasota Board of County Commissioners (BCC) held a joint meeting with the Longboat Key Commission Tuesday to discuss a range of topics affecting Longboat residents.
Topping Tuesday's agenda were Lido Beach renourishment plans and a proposed consolidation of SCAT services with Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT), which could affect service on Longboat Key.
According to a county memo, the federal funding cap for dredging New Pass has been reached, and additional dredging of New Pass cannot proceed unless additional federal funding is secured. In addition, the memo states that the amount of sand available at New Pass is not sufficient to match the volume eroded from Lido Beach. Up for discussion Tuesday was a controversial plan to dredge Big Pass for Lido Beach sand — a proposal that has some commissioners concerned about potentialy harmful impacts on the health of Siesta Beach.
Sarasota County Coastal Resources Manager Laird Wreford gave an update to commissioners on the proposals to mine Big Pass and New Pass for sand to be used for Lido Beach renourishment. Wreford said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will hold a series of public workshops, presentations and meetings to present their plans to area residents throughout the next few months to prove there will not be adverse impacts. “Big pass has never been dredged,” Wreford said. “A lot of issues need to be addressed before taking sand from the channel or from the shoals.”
Also up for discussion Tuesday was a proposed agreement between SCAT and MCAT to offer coordinated services on Longboat Key. The proposal came after an April 2013 joint meeting between the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners and the BCC in which both boards instructed their staffs to come up with an agreement to share public transportation responsibilities on Longboat Key.
Glama Carter, director of SCAT, presented an estimated timeline regarding the proposed merger. Carter said, depending on how quickly an inter-local agreement could be hammered out between the two counties, the merger could take between 10 months and two years to execute. “I want to emphasize that the BCC has not made a final decision,” Sarasota County Administrator Randall Reid said. “SCAT employees have nothing to worry about.”
The final draft of the proposal will be presented at a joint meeting between Sarasota and Manatee County commissionners next month.
Other highlights from Tuesday's meeting include:
• Commissioners discussed a proposal to re-allocate a portion of Tourist Development Tax revenue to help fund Lido Beach renourishment. Sarasota County Commissioner Joe Barbetta reminded both boards that the county’s beach renourishment reserve fund currently holds more than $16 million.
• Sarasota County Fire Chief Mike Tobias updated commissioners on a proposed 800-megahertz pubic safety communication system intended to streamline interoperability between Sarasota and Manatee County emergency services. “It is vital for Sarasota and Manatee to have an interoperable emergency system,” Tobias said, adding that the current 20-year-old system is a burden on inter-county emergency response.
The Coastal Advisory Committee will meet to discuss Lido Beach renourishment, 3 p.m., Sept. 18, at the Sarasota County Administration Center Board Chambers, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota.
The next Sarasota County Commission meeting is scheduled for 9:00 a.m., Sept. 24, at the Sarasota County Administration Center, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota.
Residents can call 861-5000 for more information.
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