Off Islands

| February 1, 2015

By Rodger Skidmore

The Sands of Time

They say that as you grow older, time seems to pass more quickly. The evidence is always before us: it seems there is a full moon every three weeks, each year there is less time between Thanksgiving and Christmas and the sand on one Sarasota beach or another is always being re-nourished.

Of course re-nourishment only seems like one big plan of “man holding back the forces of nature” when it comes to building out our beaches to where we feel they should be. In actuality there are many little plans. Last month the Sarasota County Commission approved spending $1 million to pump sand onto Lido Beach so that there would be enough sand there until they decide to spend more money to put more sand there.  Really! Sort of like Congress passing an interim budget to get us past some imagined crisis until one side or the other gives up a little and both can say they held fast to their principles. The only difference is that Mother Nature holds all the cards and doesn’t seem inclined to give up.

Looking at Google’s satellite map, one finds no keys or sandbars between Apalachicola and the keys of Southwest Florida: they start appearing around New Port Richey and Tarpon Springs. There they are not inhabited and are little more than sand bars. The first homes appear on the key that starts just north of Clearwater. From there, all the way down to Sanibel Island and Fort Myers Beach, there is just one long continuous key with dozens of passes that break it up into small marketable sections. The origin of the sand on our beaches is the weathered quartz crystals that washed down from the granite in the Appalachian Mountains about 20,000 years ago.

This sand that makes up our keys has been constantly moving southward, pushed by the loop current in the Gulf of Mexico. If the keys have been formed by this southward flow of sand, one would expect that the northern beaches would be continually renourished and new keys would keep forming to the south as the older sand migrates down the coast. Well, it seems that the older sand is migrating but the question is, where is the new sand that should be adding to the keys from Clearwater down to Venice?

No one is exactly sure how long this $1 million worth of sand is going to last on Lido but the plan is to keep it in place so no expensive condo or hotel washes away. This will give the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) time to fine tune a new approach that will keep sand from drifting away for a much longer period. The stopgap measure is going to take from Peter to pay Paul – in this case to take from New Pass and give to Lido. The funding to move 200,000 cubic yards of sand is coming from the Hurricane Debby fund of 2012 and will cover about 1.8 miles of beach from the Lido Pool down to the end of Ted Sperling Park on South Lido Beach.

The reason the longer term plan for Lido is still in flux is because the residents of Siesta Key don’t want to give back to Lido the sand that washed from Lido down into Big Pass and on to Siesta. They also take exception to the proposed groins that ACE proposes to install on Lido. Those groins would, in the future, stop more sand from drifting from Lido into Big Pass. The groins would be good for Lido but, if sand stops moving down to Siesta Key and the sand there keeps drifting south, then Siesta Key will be in the same position that Lido is in now – not enough sand.

Back to the Future

In the past few years the United States Postal Service has been pressed on all sides. FedEx and UPS have been taking over package deliveries, bills are paid automatically via the banks, personal letters are being replaced by email, and post cards by Twitter. So, is it a step forward or backwards that Longboat Key wishes to hold their next referendum solely by mail? An all-mail election or referendum sounds revolutionary but, in fact, with so many voters now using absentee ballots, we have been moving in this direction for some time.

The issue at hand is whether voters will permit 300 tourism (rental) units to be added to the Longboat Key Club. The upside of this, whether the proposal passes or not, is that the Longboat Key Club will pay the mailing costs for this May 12th referendum rather than the town. Of course even more money could be saved by the town of Longboat Key, and all other election districts, if they collected the email addresses of all voters and went to an all-electronic voting process. Or politicians could simply take out advertisements that say “Like me on Facebook”. Maybe next year.

Novel form of Birth Control

The city commissioners of Holmes Beach have come up with a new way to limit family size. They have just imposed a moratorium on remodeling or construction of homes with four or more bedrooms.

Commissioner Marvin Grossman proposed the ban because the number of purely residential houses has been decreasing and the number of rental units has been increasing, materially changing the ratio of year round residents vs. seasonal renters. The moratorium will be in place for 9 months, which is about right for those residents wishing to expand their families.

Fishing for Compliments

Bradenton Beach has a new fishing pier and the builder, Duncan Seawall, and the engineering firm, ZNS Engineering, received compliments for creating an attractive venue for fishing and for doing so on schedule. The previous pier had been in decline and was done in by tropical storm Debby back in 2012. No fishing license will be necessary to fish from the pier which will be a big draw for area fishermen and great for the Bridge Street shops.

 

 

 

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Category: Columns

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