Sarasota under fire for keeping Lido Beach closed

Editor & Publisher

St. Armands Circle business owners and numerous City residents are irate that the Sarasota City Commission continues to keep Lido Beach closed to the public while beaches in both Manatee and Sarasota County have been opened. 

Last week, the City Commission voted 3-2 to wait until May 18 to re-examine the idea of opening the beach. Vice Mayor Shelli Freeland-Eddie, Commissioners Willie Shaw and Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch all voted to keep the beach closed. Commissioners Hagen Brody and Liz Alpert argued unsuccessfully to open the beaches.

The Vice Mayor said she wanted further Covid-19 testing before the City phased in the beach opening.

Brody and Alpert argued that it was sending residents to Siesta Key and that others were already gathering in City parks and that it made no sense to keep the City Beach closed when the County beaches were all open.

Numerous business owners pleaded with the commission to open the beaches stating that beach traffic is fundamental to surviving financially.

The City is lagging behind in its opening of the beach as well as public recreation amenities such as the tennis courts at Arlington and Gillespie Parks.

Over the last week, the City did open its boat ramp, a week later than the County.

Brody argued that the Community could be relied upon to respect safe distancing on the beach just as they do in restaurants and in supermarkets. Other City amenities including playgrounds and basketball courts have also remained closed.

Governor Ron DeSantis lifted the emergency order at the end of April and encouraged phased re-openings.

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