Guest Commentary

| December 1, 2017

To the City of Sarasota and Sarasota County,

I am shocked that the city of Sarasota still supports and plans to go forward with the Army Corps of Engineers plan to dredge Big Pass to re-nourish Lido Beach.

The Army Corps of Engineers recommends dredging Big Pass to get sand for Lido Beach (1.2 million cubic yards.) The dredging activity is planned for every 5 years for over 50 years. This is the ONLY major solution that The Army Corps of Engineers has proposed- even though there are quicker, easier and more eco- friendly solutions already proposed to the City.

The hearing to decide this proposal will be sometime in December. The City of Sarasota has spent over $100,000 to defend their decision in litigation when the Siesta Key Association sued the city to block this proposal from the Army Corps of Engineers.

The City and the County already have data showing a devastating effect on storm wave action, (50% increase in wave height,) and tourism, if Big Pass is dredged. In wave action alone, a three foot storm wave will now be over a five foot wave, which would result in nearly an 80% increase in destructive wave energy. This will affect, S. Lido Key, SW Bird Key, N Siesta Key and, if the storm is large enough – the downtown city of Sarasota.

In addition to this major storm surge issue, my concern is also about the recreational and financial impact on businesses and tourism for the entire Greater Sarasota area.

Recreational fishing, boating and wildlife observation brings almost $3 billion a year to our greater Sarasota area ($1.1 billion from renters and non residents) – Big Pass is one of our greatest natural parks – a “Boat Park”- in the middle of the inner coastal waterway to the gulf. With its large sand bars, there is ample space where boaters can dock, swim, picnic, and beach right in the pass. It is connected to South Lido Park and is obviously a direct extension of the park facility and their protected mangrove areas. Over a thousand boaters throughout our Greater Sarasota area use this beautiful natural resource to dock boats, swim and picnic annually. These boaters already have limited places to dock directly in the water to enjoy such recreation.

Dredging a new large boat channel in Big Pass would eliminate this wonderful sand bar/ boat park area for all of our Greater Sarasota residents. There will be no more places for boaters/fishermen to dock around public beaches, boaters and fishermen will not be able to navigate the channel effectively due to heavy equipment and machinery. Also, sludge, silt and constant foul water will impact navigation and wildlife preservation in the Pass.

ELIMINATION/REDUCTION OF BOATERS, FISHING AND WILDLIFE ACTIVITY WILL HAVE A SERIOUS ECONOMIC IMPACT ON SALES AND REVENUE AT MARINAS, RETAIL FISHING EQUIPMENT STORES, OUTDOOR SPORTING, BOAT AND KAYAK RENTALS IN THE FUTURE!

Nobody living or visiting in Greater Sarasota wants to have fouled water, devoid of marine life. Repetitive industrial dredging in a natural wildlife, recreation, and fishing area, allowing it to suck out life, ending up with a nearly dead, wide, deep, dangerous channel with deadly riptides, doesn’t make sense especially when Lido Beach can get sand tomorrow from New Pass, which is already being dredged because of too much sand.

 Dredging effects cannot be undone and operations will constantly occupy and destroy the shoals for our lifetime. The public will lose this beautiful playground forever. Businesses that thrive on marine sports will suffer greatly.  Additionally, we don’t want the view of sunset and gulf scenes to forever include a large dredge boat and pipes, nor have calls of birds and sounds of waves drowned out by the roar and pulsing of dredge pumps.

Please City of Sarasota, come to your senses and stop this plan.

Robert T. Spicer, Concerned Siesta Key Resident

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