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City of Sarasota responds to county concerns on Big Pass dredge

Although a third-party review criticized plans to renourish Lido Key, city staff and the Army Corps of Engineers continue to push the project ahead.

Following a critical third-party review of plans to dredge Big Pass, city engineer Alex DavisShaw wants to establish a line of dialogue to address the issues raised in the consultant’s report.

The city is working with the Army Corps of Engineers on a plan to renourish Lido Beach, which would include the first-ever dredging of sand from Big Pass. Despite the negative tone of the review, conducted by a county consultant, city staff isn’t convinced that the issues are on their end.

On March 2, DavisShaw sent a formal response to county staff responding to the analysis of the proposed dredging. That letter expresses concern about the amount of available information pertaining to the project that Atkins, the consulting firm that conducted the report, didn’t seem to incorporate into its work.

“There are a lot of questions we had that don’t appear to have been evaluated by Atkins,” DavisShaw said. “Once we see they have all that information, we want to know what their questions are at that point.”

Atkins is scheduled to give a presentation to the County Commission March 23, though county staff declined to expand on the county’s ongoing review process. The report said the Army Corps’ proposal lacks “the supporting documentation necessary to confidently accept the conclusions” — perhaps most significantly, that the project wouldn’t negatively impact Siesta Beach to the south. Residents on Siesta Key have expressed strong opposition to the project.