Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Sand Plan Dredges Up Community Resistance

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Sand Plan Dredges Up Community Resistance

Article excerpt

REPLENISHING LIDO BEACHES: Siesta denizens are leery of Army Corps' proposal

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' plan to control Mother Nature ran into an equally tough challenge Thursday evening on Siesta Key: human nature.

Judging from the comments at a meeting of the Siesta Key Association, residents are wary of the corps' plan to dredge a sandbar in Big Sarasota Pass as many as 10 times over 50 years, put the sand on the eroded beaches of Lido Key and hold it all together with three rock groins.

They fear that the changes could damage Siesta Beach, one of the major tourist attractions in Southwest Florida.

"Anytime I hear 'Army Corps of Engineers,' I get suspicious, especially since I'm from New Orleans," said Paulette Morgan, a Siesta resident since 1976. "I'm very concerned about my beach."

Added Bill Hardman, a 48-year resident: "I always get nervous when people start messing around with Mother Nature. The groins, I've seen in other areas. They always don't work out as well as advertised."

The general observation was that Siesta Key, after years of erosion, seemed to be doing pretty well. And if the sandbar, or shoal, in the pass protected the key from waves and provided it with a source of sand, then removing any of that sand was, in effect, "stealing" it from Siesta.

Project manager Milan Mora, corps engineer Jason Engle and Sarasota city engineer Alexandrea DavisShaw tried to allay the concerns. DavisShaw is involved because most of 8,280-foot length of the area to be renourished lies within the city.

The plan calls for removing 1.1 million cubic yards from the shoal, That may sound like a lot, but is really only a small percentage of the sand in the pass, Mora said.

"All the modeling indicates we can take some sand out of the shoal," said Engle, who also noted that the sandbar has accreted substantially over the last 10 years. …

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