By Stan Zimmerman
Nourish Lido from Big Pass?
Plans are moving as swift as an outgoing tide to take sand from the ebb shoal on the north side of Big Pass and use it to renourish Lido Beach. At a joint city-county commission meeting in late October, several citizens rose to ask the plans get a “peer review” before starting the project.
Big Pass between Lido and Siesta Keys has never been dredged. The City of Sarasota and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers want to “mine” the ebb shoal on the north side of the pass to deliver 400,000 cubic yards of prime quality sand to Lido.
The “peer review” was completed years ago, said Laird Wreford, the county coastal resources manager. He developed an “inlet management plan” that was subject to public review and comment between 1999 and 2004. It suggested sand could be removed along the northern contour of the ebb shoal.
But Milan Mora with the Corps showed a plan with a rectangular borrow area, and no sculpting the contour. His plan also showed a dredger cutting a deep-water channel through the sand barrier offshore of northern Siesta Key. That would create a navigable channel for deeper draft vessels.
Lido is currently eroded despite having a renourishment in 2009. A consultant estimated the beach was worth $82 million “in direct visitor spending” per year. The Army Corps of Engineers will cover five-eights of the project cost, with the state and county’s tourist development tax picking up the remainder.
City Engineer Alex Davis-Shaw said this was not a one-time deal. The Corps’ plan is good for a half-century. But later additions of sand will come from New Pass, between Longboat and Lido Keys. “Every five years, 615,000 cubic yards will be needed,” said Mora.
County seeks playground money
Sarasota County is asking the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for money to build a new playground at Turtle Beach. And not just any kind of playground.
This one will be designed for the use of disabled children between the ages of 2 to 12. The grant request for $111,000 would also build a new gazebo in the park.
The existing small playground between the campground and the beach parking lot would be renovated. The new gazebo would not only provide shade, but a picnic space and venue for small events.
The playground and gazebo would joint renovations to the existing restrooms and community spaces.
Starring Lego Man!
The Travel Channel came to Siesta Key Public Beach last month to do a story on the mysterious appearance of the eight-foot-tall Lego Man two years ago. It “washed up” on Siesta Beach to coincide with the start of the Sarasota Chalk Festival.
Lego Man was linked to a Dutch artist who was making a street drawing in Burns Court composed of any army of Lego soldiers similar to the Terracotta Army discovered in the tomb of China’s first emperor.
The Travel Channel crew was working on a series of “things that show up from nowhere.” Sheriff Tom Knight took the 100-pound statue “into custody,” and later released it to the tender care of the Chalk Festival organizer.
Lego Man was last seen locally on March 2012 at St. Boniface Episcopal Church on Siesta Key at an appearance by Stephen Leatherman – Dr. Beach – who spoke at the annual meeting of the Siesta Key Association.
Lego Man was last spotted somewhere in California.
Hurricane season limps to a close
It ain’t over ‘till it’s over, but the 2013 hurricane season will go down as one of the most unusual on record. Maybe even before records were kept.
Last April the two University of Colorado hurricane gurus – Bill Grey and Phil Klotzback – predicted 18 named storms, with nine hurricanes. And in May the Climate Prediction Center (part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) gave a 70 percent chance of 13 to 20 named storms this year, of which 7 to 11 could become hurricanes, and 3 to 6 of them as majors.
The normal average would be 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
In fairness by press time we have seen 12 named storms, but only two hurricanes – Humberto and Ingrid – both in mid-September with 85 mile-per-hour winds. Humberto led a long but colorless life in the mid-Atlantic. Ingrid formed quickly off the Mexican east coast and came ashore south of the Texas border.
By mid-season on Labor Day, not a single hurricane had formed despite warmer Atlantic and Caribbean waters, and a lack of El Nino to dampen storm formation.
It’s not too late for more cyclonic activity, because the hurricane season doesn’t end until Nov. 30. But as waters cool and cold fronts begin to arrive, a November hurricane is a rare event in Florida.