City seeks help from County in Lido Beach renourishment

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The City of Sarasota unanimously voted last week to ask Sarasota County to allow the use of Ted Sperling Park on south Lido Key as a staging area in an upcoming beach renourishment project.

The City wants the County to allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to use the park in its undertaking to dredge Big Pass and spread sand on about 1.6 miles of highly eroded south Lido Key.

The project has been fought in various court venues by Siesta Key residents, but the project appears imminent since a permit has been issued and the most recent court decisions have favored the USACE and the City of Sarasota.

The City contends it will save hundreds of thousands of dollars by using the park and the decision has to be approved by the county in short order since the project is due to go to bid in a few weeks.

City Manager Tom Barwin has opined that utilizing a small portion of the park will not interfere with the public’s use of the property and that the area will be buffered and material deliveries will be made when the park is closed.

Last spring, the county rejected the City’s initial request to utilize the park. Since that time, the project went to bid over the summer and the bid process was cancelled when the USACE received a lowest bid of over $20 million – more than $5 million above what was estimated.

The rejection for the use of the park last April, was communicated by the Deputy County Manager. This time, the Sarasota County Commission was asked directly at a meeting last week by Sarasota City Commissioner Shelli Freeland Eddie.

At the Sarasota County Commission meeting last week, commissioners expressed concern for the fact that the dredging has been a contentious issue with the City and Lido Key at odds with some Siesta Key residents who have formed organizations to challenge the project in court.

The County Commission will discuss this subject at its next regular meeting on Nov. 5 and County staff will apprise the commission of various covenants governing use of the park as well as details on how the proposed staging would occur.

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