Big Pass and EBB Shoal Dredge Update

MARCH 17 – FDEP sends notice of ACOE and City of Sarasota filing a permit application to dredge and renourish Lido Key Beach. There are 30 days for public comments to be sent to FDEP for consideration. The plan application is on file for review

MARCH 30 – ACOE files their new EA as part of the permit application and updated plan. There is not a published public notice. ACOE states there is now a 45 day comment period for public input. FDEP must respond regarding the plan within 30 days. City of Sarasota announces a public input meeting April 15 regarding the ACOE plan.

APRIL 2 – SKA sends a letter to FDEP with questions and concerns specific to the plan filed with DEP. DEP responds. We are the only Siesta Key organization to submit comments regarding the permit.

APRIL 15 – FDEP responds to ACOE with an RAI (Request for Additional Information) and references SKA letter regarding the choice of groin design. ACOE is cited for failing to publish public notice prior to the public input meeting. FDEP request they publish the notice and a link to their permit application within two weeks of the FDEP notice on April 15.

FDEP finds the ACOE permit application to be incomplete and lists detailed requests for information (RAI). ACOE must respond within 30 days or request a delay up to 6 months to modify their plan. They are directed to FDEP to publish a public notice within two weeks. This extends the FDEP public comment period two weeks from the date of publication.

ACOE and City of Sarasota provide public input meeting. There is considerable “push back” by Lido residents but not on the basis of the project design. It appears to be fear that harm may come to Lido if the project doesn’t quickly receive approval.

SKA requests ACOE consider modification of the permit process to accommodate the Sarasota County independent peer review. To be considered are impacts to Lido County Ted Sperling Park, navigational channels of Big Pass, and beach erosion impact to Siesta Key

SKA requests review of an alternative groin design, which may have positive impact by reducing the volume of sand borrow and increase the length of intervals between renourishments. ACOE has not considered this but DEP has asked them to respond to our questions.

APRIL 16 – Engineering firm and scope of work initiated by Sarasota County Dept. of Environmental Protection. This was requested by SKA July 19, 2014, and unanimously approved by our Board of County Commissioners. This expenditure was included in the August budget hearing. SKA also spoke to support up to $1 million for additional sand borrow to assist Lido Key in recovery from TS Debby. This also was approved.

APRIL 21 – SKA Board of Directors agrees to initiate professional services for consultation with coastal sciences expert attached to a Florida university. SKA Board agrees to share room rental costs with three Siesta Key organizations to host an informational meeting to be held May 11, 2015.

MAY 7 – SKA monthly meeting, County Environmental Protection staff provide scope and timeline for independent peer review. Firm chosen is a global engineering firm and is not dependent upon the ACOE for income within Florida. They have no ongoing projects for the ACOE within the Jacksonville USACOE District.

MAY 10 – SKA submits second letter to FDEP for consideration of questions and comments regarding the ACOE plan.

MAY 11 – SOSS2 meeting. SKA, along with SKVA, SKC, and SKCC, hosts a nonprofit group providing a presentation with a panel of speakers regarding the Big Pass aspects of the ACOE plan. The SOSS2 goal is to raise funds for independent review and legal fees to fight the ACOE plan. Comments made during the meeting by attendees suggest Siesta Key residents and businesses want to protect Big Pass and Siesta Key shoreline. How this is accomplished varies amongst those who spoke. The closing comment from the speaker, Robert Young, Ph.D., …”legal action should be a last resort.”

SKA is not fund-raising at this time. Our members have generously donated funding for legal and environmental needs as needed. SKA is working within the legal and policy framework of the FDEP to develop alternatives to the existing ACOE Plan. SKA has set aside funds for additional professional expertise as needed.

Prior to May 14, 2015

Send your concerns and comments on the project to FDEP:
Attn: Chiu Cheng, Project Manager, Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection

Send your comments and questions to ACOE:
Attn: Aubree Hershorin, Ph.D., Army Corps of Engineers or ph (904) 232-2136

Please write to SKA if you have questions:

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23 Years of Big Pass and Island Protection
Prior Project Update