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Sarasota Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019 2 weeks ago

Siesta Key Water Reclamation Facility demolition slated for 2020

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The facility was decommissioned in 2018 and the property is now home to the Siesta Key Master Pump Station
by: Brynn Mechem Staff Writer

Residents who live along Siesta Key’s Grand Canal might soon wake up not to the sound of a chirping bird but to the quick cadence of a jackhammer.

Plans to demolish the Siesta Key Water Reclamation Facility, near 5200 Oakmont Place, are well underway with hopes to begin hard demolition in spring 2020.

At a Siesta Key Association meeting Sept. 5, Sarasota County construction project manager John Saputo told residents that the planning process is around 90% done, and the county expects to open bids by December.

Sarasota County construction project manager John Saputo answers questions about the demolition project.

Now that the Siesta Key Master Pump Station is built, the majority of the remaining infrastructure for the Siesta Key Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant, which ranked second-worst in the state for pollution and was decommissioned in 2018,  is no longer needed. 

An aerial image shows the full property. Photo courtesy of Google Maps.

In April, the county began a $90,230 contract with Giffels-Webster Engineering to plan the removal and demolition of all tanks, buildings and above-ground structures associated with the treatment plant. The new master pump station and storage facilities will remain.

To get the demolition done quickly, Saputo said the county plans to use four track hoes, which are designed to dig up concrete simultaneously, which will cause a lot of noise and dust.

“It’s going to be noisy,” Saputo said. “We will have another public meeting with probably a radius of half a mile or so involving those people who are going to be impacted, who will hear it the most and see it the most to explain to them what to expect.”

SKA Director Robert Luckner expressed concerns that the project would begin too early in the day and that the additional construction traffic could cause potential danger to school children living in area neighborhoods.

Saputo said the hired contractor would have the opportunity to work a 10-hour day anytime between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Additionally, he hopes to have the heavy demolition be conducted June through August, so that it won’t interfere with school.

The county also will accept bid alternatives to see how much it would cost to demolish a 2-million-gallon tank that is currently used as a backup in case of emergency overflow, such as in May, when 36,000 gallons of raw sewage was spilled into the Grand Canal. 

Saputo said the county will more than likely keep the tank for such instances but would like to “have a number to look at should the need arise.”

Residents expressed concerns that the tank system isn’t as effective as it should be because there is no automated system to divert the flow of sewage into the tank. Instead, workers have to manually turn a valve to redirect the flow.

“We want to keep the tank, so we can use it; it’s in good shape for overflow,” SKA President Catherine Luckner said. “The only problem is automation. They need to get that part of it fixed. We told them right away that they should not have to run out in a major storm and try to manually get something turned on.”

Saputo said it is possible to automate the system, but it would include another project and additional costs.

Additional improvements to the site include new fencing at the entrance of the site, a new asphalt driveway and sodding of the entire demolition area. The area will remain fenced off to the public.

Sarasota County Assistant Utilities Director Dave Cash said that there are no current plans for the lot, but that could change in the future.

“Whether or not it will be up for future public use, there may be opportunities there,” Cash said. “I know in the past there have been some ideas thrown about, such as a kayak launch, dog park, those kinds of things. But at this point, it’s just going to remain a nice mowed grass area that will be maintained under utilities ownership.

Saputo said the county hopes to have the demolition completed by October 2020.

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