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City seeks to drain Ken Thompson Parkway

The days of standing water on City Island’s Ken Thompson Parkway are numbered as the city of Sarasota preps for a new drainage project that will eliminate flooding.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. October 28, 2015
Drainage issues will be resolved on City Island next month.
Drainage issues will be resolved on City Island next month.
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For years, rainy weather on City Island has elicited groans from business owners on Ken Thompson Parkway who are used to a flooding that results in traffic backups and, sometimes, less business.

“Many of our guests see the water buildup on the road, think it’s saltwater, and turn around rather than drive through it,” said Mote Marine Laboratory spokeswoman Kaitlyn Fusco. “It affects our guests, our summer camps and our educational groups.”

Amy Blair, general manager of The Old Salty Dog, says the flooding deters some guests who park at Mote and don’t want to wade through the water on their way to the restaurant for lunch.

“It’s a major inconvenience,” Blair said.

But the days of flooding along Ken Thompson Parkway will soon be over.

The city of Sarasota is starting work in mid-November on a $160,000 project that will divert rainwater into Sarasota Bay.

The project, which received a $43,175 grant from the Southwest Florida Water Management District that the city must match, will divert the rainwater into upgraded dry retention ponds on the south side of the road near Mote. The elevation of the ponds will be raised to force the water to drain through a series of different kinds of aquatic plants used to catch sediment before the clean storm water is funneled into the bay.

The height adjustment of the retention ponds and a portion of the road will force the water, even at high tide, to drain into the bay, keeping the road free of the 3 to 5 feet of water that can pond on the road after a storm.

The work should be complete by early next year. The project involves modifying the storm water drainage system in the area and also installing new sidewalks and landscaping.

Although most work will be performed on the side of the road, a flagman will occasionally be in place to direct one-way traffic during construction.

The project is so important for City Island business owners that MarineMax Sarasota agreed to help speed up the design and permitting earlier this year by advancing $100,000 to the city for costs that the city will use as a future rent credit for the marine tenant.

That money, combined with the SWFMD grant, finally allows the city to proceed with the project, according to Neil Gaines, city project manager.

“This has been a problem for a long time, and we looked at a number of different solutions over the years, but cost was always a big factor in the solution’s delay,” Gaines said. “The funding, combined with the creative, environmentally friendly way to have the water cleaned through a plant filtration system, allows us to fix this issue.”

Business owners are excited for the construction because of the looming end result.

“We’re thrilled about the project,” Blair said. “It’s going to make a big difference.”


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