South Siesta Key Beach Renourishment to Start

| January 1, 2016

The South Siesta Key Beach Nourishment project area as seen on July 8th.

The South Siesta Key Beach Nourishment project area as seen on July 8th.

The county has secured all final permits, including a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers and approval by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and secured the contractor New Jersey-based Weeks Marine for $18.1 million. Weeks Marine was the sole bidder for the project, The County will start the restoration in January and finish before sea turtle nesting season, which begins May 1 and lasts through November.

The final federal permit was issued following a lengthy delay due to unanticipated issues regarding a listed species. The potential stopover of the Rufa Red Knot during migration delayed the permitting process, and since spring the county had also been working to put specific safeguards in place to protect both the Red Knot and Loggerhead sea turtles.  

In March, county officials notified residents the scheduled start date for the project had been delayed because of the potential presence of the Red Knot, a threatened species protected by the Endangered Species Act in 2014.

“The Red Knot is not very common in our area but it can potentially use our gulf shoreline during its trip,” Wreford told Siesta Sand in July.

With final permits in hand, county officials were pushing for construction this winter. The construction bid was advertised in October, with bid opening scheduled for Nov. 10.  The county did not know the final project costs until the proposals were received, according to county spokesman Jason Bartolone told Siesta Sand at the end of October.

In June, the South Siesta project got a needed financial boost when the legislature approved a $2.75 million state award for the project. The county, which originally requested $7 million in state funding, was still seeking additional state funding to defray costs.

The project will add 690,000 cubic yards of sand to two miles of beach. It will buffer the eroded shoreline that was initially nourished with a million cubic yards of sand in 2007. The 2007 renourishment was expected to protect the beach for 10 years.

Most property owners support the project and the assessment, even though the tax will be 80 percent higher than the first one, said Matt Osterhoudt back in October, senior manager of Sarasota County’s Planning and Development Services Department.

On December 9 the BCC unanimously approved the renourishment project, The BCC also created a special taxing district for property owners in the affected area. The tax assessment will generate roughly $3.5 million by the time it ends in 2023. The new assessment will start in 2017.

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