Siesta Key residents continue to oppose the dredging of Big Pass, so city officials are considering other avenues for bolstering the shrinking Lido shoreline.
Even if the city of Sarasota’s plan to renourish Lido Key with sand dredged from Big Pass moves forward as quickly as possible — despite Siesta Key residents working to block the proposal — the project won’t begin until next winter at the earliest.
That’s a source of concern for Lido residents, who say the shoreline continues to recede.
“About two years ago, we had a beach renourishment, and the sand was probably about 50 yards out,” said Bill Perrine, board president of the First Lido Condominiums at 1900 Ben Franklin Drive. “It’s eroded about that much in two years — even at low tide, water’s hitting the seawall.”
The seawall typically helps prevent any issues. On Jan. 22, however, high winds sent waves crashing over the wall. Perrine said storm conditions can lead to flooding and water damage on the lower levels of the condo.
Beyond moving furniture around, the condos have few options to limit the damage. Perrine, like many Lido residents, is counting on the Big Pass dredging project for some relief.
“That’s a multimillion-dollar project, and we’re 56 units here,” he said. “We are pretty much at the mercy of what the city, county and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decides to do.”
City officials, increasingly concerned about the issue, are considering other options for protecting Lido Key properties. Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin said staff is exploring its options for smaller renourishment efforts.
The state would allow the city to do a hot-spot renourishment project, but that would only permit the addition of 6,000 cubic yards of sand. The city could also seek state approval to use sand from New Pass to offset the damage of Hurricane Hermine. That could add 50,000 cubic yards to the shore, though the cost of the dredging would likely top $1 million.
The city is also investigating the possibility of working with private properties to place barriers and sandbags near the shore as a protective measure.
Barwin said the Lido shoreline is in its most vulnerable state in the past two decades, stressing the need for a long-term plan. He criticized Siesta’s opposition to the Big Pass project, stating it will complicate the critical process of strengthening Lido beach.
If the state does not approve the project, Barwin and other officials fear even localized storms can have a significant impact on Lido properties.
“It’s just a matter of hoping and praying that we’re lucky,” Barwin said. “We’re not talking about hurricanes; we’re not even talking about tropical storms.”