Group Intends to Sue to Stop Dredging that Critics Worry Could Wreck Sand on Siesta Key

Article Image

Posted October 9, 2018

A long-term beach re-nourishment plan to restore sand to critically-eroded parts of Lido Key may be put on hold.

The "Save Our Siesta Sands 2" group has filed a letter of intent to sue, in federal court, the Army Corps Engineers to stop the dredging of Big Pass. The group worries if the pass is dredged, it will impact the flow of sand to Siesta Key.

'Sand War' continues between Siesta Key and Lido Key

That's the same sand that’s made out of 99 percent quartz and has helped make Siesta Beach No. 1 twice, as ranked by Dr. Beach.

The SOSS2 group says it's not against dredging for Lido Key -- members just don't want it out of Big Pass. The group believes since the area has never been dredged, it poses too many unknowns. Will dredging eliminate a shoal on the north end of Siesta Key that some say protects its shoreline from storms and helps guide the sand to the public beach? Critics worry it might.

“We have experts that say if dredging happens there will be major problems on Siesta from erosion,” Peter says.

City officials say studies by the Army Corps of Engineers show there would be no harm done.

SOSS2 sued the state and lost, and now it plans to go to federal court and sue the Army Corps of Engineers and possibly delay the long-term re-nourishment project beyond next fall when it’s scheduled to begin.

Van Roekens says, “We’re just beginning to fight in federal court.”

But, people on Lido Beach feel differently. Timeshare owners at Sarasota Sands say they barely have any beach anymore. And, they want the dredging to restore their sand.

“I think they’re very selfish people. They have a beautiful beach,” says timeshare owner Betty Gnipp from Pennsylvania. “We need to have a beach.”

She has been coming to Lido Key for 29 years, but this may be her last.

“I’m contemplating selling,” she explains.

So is her friend Linda Fonte.

“Past few years there’s been no beach...we used to have two football fields in front of Sarasota Sands," Fonte says. "That’s gone, and so is our enthusiasm to come back.”

The critical erosion problem gets worse with time and each storm.

“Not just width and height too," explains Alex Davis Shaw, engineer for the city of Sarasota. "We lost width before but we never had the beach so low as we do now. It makes it easier for storm surge to cause serious damage to people’s homes."

The city of Sarasota has put up large barrel-shaped sandbags to protect what’s left until an emergency short-term erosion solution starts next month, but the long-term solution of dredging Big Pass on the south end of Lido Key has drawn the battle line in the sand war with the plan's critics in Siesta Key.

“We’re worried the sand will disappear,” says Peter Van Roekens, chairman for Save Our Siesta Sands 2. “We’re not opposed to Lido beach getting sand -- it’s where they are getting it from.”

If nothing changes, the project to dredge Big Pass on the south side of Lido Key would replenish 1.6 miles of the shoreline and begin in the fall of 2019.

Source: wtsp