State of Lido Beach meets state of litigation

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Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin said he received “some very welcome news” on the litigation front relative to the dredging of Big Pass.

A Siesta Key-based organization, Siesta Sand 2, has been fighting in court the plan by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge up to $1.3 million cubic yards of sand from Big Sarasota Pass and renourish about 1.6 miles of severely eroded south Lido Key.

The Pass has accumulated more than 10 million cubic yards of sand and a large shoal that stretches south from Lido Key to the narrow channel just north of Siesta Key. The Siesta organization has asserted that it will cause harm to Siesta Key and the area ecosystem. Many of the arguments against the proposal are procedural.

The Lido Key residents and business owners as well as the City of Sarasota see the project as a responsible measure to protect infrastructure and property that has been threatened by erosion.

Further, the argument against Siesta Sands 2 is that the majority of the sand came from Lido due to the shoreline drift from north to south.

Barwin said the Circuit Court late this past week, ruled in favor of the City of Sarasota on the final legal objection raised by those opposed to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan.

“The Court agreed that actions advancing the project were consistent with the City’s codes. This litigation has been a complex multi-year saga with, regrettably, much time and resources spent on unfounded legal challenges,” said Barwin.

Barwin added that the Corps is in the process of re-bidding the initial phase of the long-term project.

That project is underscored by an issued permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) that is valid for 15 years.

The Corps have projected the construction of two groins on south Lido to help anchor the sand between projects.

Meanwhile, Siesta Sand 2 has filed a motion against the Army Corps of Engineers in U.S. District Court arguing that a full Environmental Impact Statement has not been completed since 1984.

This action, if unsuccessful, will likely be the final legal opposition to the project that has been planned over several years.

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