County cooperates with City in Lido Beach building plan

Editor & Publisher

The debate at a Sarasota County Commission meeting last week over allowing contractors for a major beach renourishment project to stage equipment on South Lido Key ebbed and flowed with fear and trepidation.

The problem was really two issues. The first concern was a request by the City of Sarasota and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to allow the staging of beach building equipment and material for two groins destined to be installed on the southern shoreline of Lido Key.

The second concern for the County Commissioners is the project itself, which they fear could cause the “wiping out” of Ted Sperling Park, which is owned by Sarasota County.

Each County Commissioner took turns expressing their concern that the project, and especially the two groins, will erode Ted Sperling Park.

The project, which is due to go to bid within a month, entails dredging 950,000 cubic yards of sand from Big Pass and placing it along the highly-eroded shoreline of South Lido Key.

The two groins that are slated just north of the public park are designed to help hold the sand in place.

On Florida’s West Coast, sand generally transports via wave action from north to south. The fear of the County Commission is that the groins will do exactly as intended and retain sand, but at the cost of a scouring effect of erosion at Ted Sperling Park. Ted Sperling Park is one of the top-three destinations for beachgoers in the county and encompasses the entire southern tip of Lido Key and juts into Big Pass.


A matter of language

The City of Sarasota made clear at the meeting and over the past week that the permit itself as well as state law provide numerous requirements for monitoring erosion as well as ongoing assessments of the shoreline profile. Two weeks ago at a City of Sarasota Commission meeting, the Assistant City Manager said that the County was not planning to consider the agreement to allow the staging because there were no specific legal protections afforded to the County in the agreement language.

Over the next two weeks, City Manager Tom Barwin, the City Attorney, private parties, the County Manager as well as Commissioners sent flurries of memos and both waves of concern and reassurance about the project.

The main point made by the City and advocates for the staging of equipment was that the project would move forward even without the County approval of the park usage. But if the county refused, the outcome would cost taxpayers an additional $1 million and wreak havoc on the beach because of the long distance involved in trucking materials from mid Lido Key.


Million dollar motive

The argument that a refusal by the county would cost taxpayers additional money is what became the deciding factor for four of the five county commissioners at the Dec. 12 meeting. After a lengthy discussion, County Commissioners Alan Maio, Nancy Detert, Christian Ziegler and Chair Charles Hines all agreed to allow the staging. Commissioner Michael Moran was the lone dissenter and stated that he was concerned that if there was damage to the county and Ted Sperling Park agreeing to the plan would limit their ability to recover in a claim.


World in Flux

One of the salient details on how any erosion at Ted Sperling Park would be interpreted and quantified can be found in the Department of Environmental Protection’s Monitoring Standards for Beach Erosion Control Projects. The standards set out how a baseline study and subsequent shoreline mapping studies will be accomplished, but more importantly, allude to the fact that historical fluctuations are normal and that any erosion would have to be beyond the greatest level of erosion experienced in an historical context.

What the above simply means is the beach may erode after the groins to an extent, but that extent would have to be beyond the normal pattern of historical fluctuation before a claim or a significant loss would be considered.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will likely place the beach project out to bid in the coming week and bids will be opened by early February. The next act will be selecting a contractor and then construction will commence.

Tags: , , , , ,

Longboat Key News

Leave a Reply