The sight of a barge off the coast of Lido Key was a delight for members of the Lido Key Residents Association, as a meeting Saturday coincided with the commencement of sand-pumping for a shoreline renourishment effort.
That effort, backed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is designed to restore sand lost from Lido Key in the wake of Tropical Storm Debby in 2012. The well-being of the critically eroded Lido shoreline has been a concern for residents in the area, and although the FEMA project comes as a relief, it’s a stopgap measure as they await progress on a long-term solution.
The Army Corps of Engineers is working with the city on a 50-year project to periodically replenish the Lido shoreline with sand dredged from Big Pass, which has never been dredged before, and New Pass. The Army Corps is currently revising its project to redesign three erosion-slowing groins slated for Lido Key, leaving Lido residents — and other interested parties, including Sarasota County — waiting until any additional steps can be taken.
Lido Key Residents Association President Carl Shoffstall said he is holding out hope that the long-term project could still begin in 2016, though the residents association has not received an update from the Army Corps regarding the redesign. The timeline calls for the redesigned plans to come forward for public discussion soon, at which point the state approval process can begin in earnest.
“Sometime at the end of January or in February, they’re supposed to be able to have it re-evaluated and have it come back for public vetting,” Shoffstall said. “If that’s OK, then the next step is turning around and starting to look at permitting.”
In the past, Lido residents have advocated for a medium-term solution to bridge the gap between the FEMA and Army Corps projects.
Still, Shoffstall said the group is at peace with the fact that the post-Debby renourishment will be the last major effort until the Army Corps project is approved.
“This (FEMA project) is going to be the Band-Aid until they turn around and decide when that (Army Corps) project is going to happen,” Shoffstall said. “There’s not going to be anything in between there.”
Post Debby renourishment
Timeline: Jan. 15 through mid-March
Total sand dredged: Up to 197,000 cubic yards
Source: New Pass, the pass just south of Longboat Key
Scale: 1.8 miles, between Lido Pool and Ted Sperling Park at South Lido Beach
Cost: $3.6 million
Funding sources: The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Florida Department of
Environmental Protection and the Sarasota County tourist development tax