By Bob Stein
On March 17, the City of Sarasota and the Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE) submitted a Joint Permit Application to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to start the long permit process for dredging the Big Pass Shoal. Permits need to be approved by both the Federal Government and State of Florida.
For our first time visitors of Siesta Key here is the Project Description: The proposed project is to nourish 1.6 miles of shoreline on Lido Key, basically adding 30 acres. Lido Key sits just north of Siesta Key and the Big Pass Shoal is the sand bar that can be seen as you look north between the two islands. Approximately 950,000 cubic yards of sand will be harvested for the nourishment event. Two groins are also proposed between R-42 and R-44, towards the south end of the fill template. A third groin is proposed for implementation in the event future monitoring data shows further stabilization would be necessary in the Ted Sperling Park at the southern end of Lido Key.
The FDEP process is the State review. Once the FDEP has reviewed the submittal and had their questions answered, they will publish a notice allowing for public comment. It is expected to take the State several months to review the submittal.
The NEPA process is a Federal review. This draft will be released soon and there will be time for public comment. There will be a meeting at the City of Sarasota with the ACOE presenting their new draft. (At the time of press no date and time were scheduled). This date may be in mid-April, so be sure to monitor the City of Sarasota for press releases of the exact time and date if you wish to attend this meeting.
Publisher’s Note – Some questions to consider before a final decision is rendered: Did the ACOE use a 2004 EA draft (Environmental Analysis)? Has the County hired a Coastal Engineering firm for review to determine the impact dredging will have on the shoal? Will the County allow the ACOE to add the 3rd groin on Ted Sperling Park on Lido Key? Will the County allow the ACOE to use the Ted Sperling Park for staging purposes if the permits are OK’d?
The Big Pass Shoal has never been dredged and is the natural way the Siesta Key beach receives its sand. The biggest draw to Sarasota is Siesta Key’s #1 USA Beach status. Siesta Key has continuously received its accolades because of the sand on the beach. It’s “why the world comes to Sarasota.”