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Sarasota Thursday, Apr. 30, 2020 2 years ago

Big Pass dredge plans move forward

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With a contractor selected, the city said work on a Lido Key renourishment project is poised to begin by July.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has selected a contractor for a planned Lido Key shoreline renourishment project and is moving to begin work in July on the first-ever dredging of Big Pass.

The Army Corps awarded a $12.68 million construction contract to Chesapeake, Va.-based Cottrell Contracting Corp. in March. On April 16, the organization issued a notice to proceed for the dredging project, which is being undertaken in partnership with the city of Sarasota.

A schedule and other details are still being finalized.

“It should be wrapped up by late in the year,” City Manager Tom Barwin said at the April 20 City Commission meeting.

The city and Army Corps have been pursuing the project since 2013. The permit authorizes the use of up to 1.3 million cubic yards of sand from Big Pass to renourish 1.6 miles of Lido shoreline.

The project team is authorized to dredge and place sand on the beach during turtle nesting season, but the construction of two sand-retaining groins on the shoreline cannot begin until after the season ends Oct. 31. The city said the project team will monitor for turtle and bird nests.

The city has prevailed in several legal challenges to the project, but two remain. The Siesta Key Association has appealed a lawsuit that the 12th Judicial Circuit Court dismissed three times in 2018 and 2019. Save our Siesta Sand 2, a group formed to oppose the project, has filed a case against the Army Corps in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Siesta Key residents began voicing opposition to the project soon after plans became public, expressing concern about the potential for negative effects on the shoreline of the barrier island south of Big Pass. Although the state has rejected environmental objections to the project, and courts have rejected procedural complaints, the Siesta Key Association has continued to file comments about the plans and seek changes.

“We just want to make sure the waters stay clean and clear and that Ted Sperling Park doesn’t go away — and nothing bad happens down our way either,” Siesta Key Association President Catherine Luckner said.

Lido Key residents are eager for work to begin on a project that has been in development for the better part of a decade.

“Everybody’s just anxious to get started,” said Carl Shoffstall, president of the Lido Key Residents Association.

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