The county’s plan was to create additional parking spaces at Siesta Key’s beach access No. 7, when it purchased adjacent property for $5.4 million in 2007.
However, snowy plovers, a threatened species, had nested on the dunes near beach-access points in May.
The nests were roped off, but volunteers discovered footprints inside the boundary, and two nests were destroyed.
Beach access No. 7 was closed from May 14 to Sept. 3 to avoid further damage. Closing the area, though, also affected the county’s plans to add parking spaces there.
A new plan was presented to county commissioners Sept. 29, which accommodates the birds.
On the 3.4 acres of adjacent property sits an old beach cottage, a boardwalk, dunes and open beach.
John McCarthy, the county’s parks general manager, said the cottage will stay, the dilapidated boardwalk will be repaired and 34 parking spaces will be added to the existing 11 spots.
But commissioners made sure that if the snowy plovers return to the same spot, or any other beach access, that the access would be closed immediately to protect them.
“We can’t predict where (the birds) are going to be or where they’re going to nest at any particular time,” said McCarthy.
Even if a beach access is closed due to bird nesting, the access’ parking spots would remain open.
McCarthy said Siesta Key’s 10 beach-access points are close enough, so that beachgoers could park at a closed access point and walk to another.
Commissioners approved McCarthy’s proposal.
Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].