By Beverly Arias
So many of us enjoy living here or near Siesta Key and hope to enjoy its bounty of island pleasures for years to come. Let’s just imagine, some years from now, how great it will be to visit our favorite Siesta Beach with its renovated pavilion area and park grounds. We will walk along the newly laid pedestrian esplanade toward our now world-famous shore. From afar, we set our eyes on the blue-green water with happy anticipation as we wonder how the waves will feel on our bare feet. Even on the hottest days, we walk easily on the ever-cool and squeaky white sand of the finest quartz. The contribution of this beach’s natural beauty to our community is rewarded with enhanced facilities, expanded parking, safety and accessibility for everyone.
For the past 9 years, Siesta Key Association (SKA) has been involved as the Siesta Beach Improvement Plan developed and, as we can see by the activity along Beach Road, it’s now well underway. With Siesta Key’s growing popularity, improvement and protection are critical if we want to enjoy this island’s natural gifts for many years to come. Much work has been done to keep Siesta Key beautiful and SKA remains a steadfast advocate behind the scenes and in partnership with Sarasota County and other protection agencies and non-profit organizations.
The statement on the Historic Marker found at the Siesta Beach Pavilion reflects much of what SKA supports: “In 1983 Sarasota County began a program to restore the sand dunes which had been destroyed by careless use over the previous years. The County’s long range plan for Siesta Beach is to preserve its natural state so future generations may enjoy its native beauty.”
Will our work and vision be secure? While we all take great pleasure in our Siesta Key relaxed lifestyle, being care-free does not mean being care-less.
With the future of our top-ranked Siesta Beach at stake, and the potential impact to our livelihoods, property values, and the quality and quantity of beach sand unique to Siesta Beach, we alerted our Siesta Key friends and neighbors to a proposed plan by the City of Sarasota to dredge Big Pass.
With focused attention devoted to this important issue, SKA dedicated our meeting as a public forum for the project and a presentation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) presented a preliminary Big Pass Dredge/Lido Beach Renourishment plan providing an opportunity for discussion and input from all with property or business interests on Siesta Key. Based on data provided by the ACOE, many questions are unanswered and we remain focused on significant environmental, coastal waterway and property impacts for our barrier island.
Siesta Key Association, along with other island associations such as the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, the Siesta Key Village Association, the Siesta Key Condominium Council, and Siesta Bay Island Association, has expressed concern and opposition to the Lido Beach renourishment project.
On January 9, 2014, the SKA Board of Directors unanimously approved the following statement to be added to our position regarding the City of Sarasota/ACOE Lido Beach renourishment project. “Whereas Big Pass has never been dredged and the shoal provides both protection and natural renourishment of Siesta beaches, the Siesta Key Association, based on documentation currently available to us, states its grave concern and opposition to any form of dredging in Big Pass channel and shoal.”
Visit our website, www.siestakeyassociation.com, to find a summary of the SKA position on the dredge project and three points of recommendation: we urge the City of Sarasota and our Commissioners to seek alternative sand sources for Lido renourishment , to pursue understanding of the project’s potential to diminish natural storm protections or result in Siesta Beach erosion, and a peer review by an independent expert.
Siesta Key neighbors and friends are encouraged to learn more about SKA, to review the Lido Beach Renourishment/Big Pass Dredge project and consider our list of project questions presented to the ACOE. Please view postings to our Facebook page and find related news articles. You can email questions or offer support through firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also write directly to the Board of County Commissioners at email@example.com.
Following the 2014 Annual Members Breakfast Meeting on Saturday, March 1st, the next SKA meeting will be Thursday, April 3rd, 2014. SKA monthly meetings are held the FIRST Thursday of each month at 4:30pm, St. Boniface Episcopal Church, Room F.
With its focus on maintaining and enhancing the quality of life on the Key, the Siesta Key Association’s representation of island resident interests ultimately benefits everyone who spends time on Siesta Key. SKA’s website is www.siestakeyassociation.com. “Like” us on Facebook!