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Big Pass plans set stage for legal battle

As a Siesta Key group ramps up its preparation for a lawsuit, Lido Key residents are urging the city to get ready for a potential showdown.

For years, it seemed clear that Siesta Key residents would do whatever it took to prevent the city of Sarasota from dredging Big Pass to renourish Lido Key.

Now, the group is formally organizing support to take legal action against the city and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

In 2014, Save our Siesta Sand 2 retained Carlton Fields Jorden Burt attorney Don Hemke to represent the group, formed in opposition to the Big Pass dredge. As the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proceeded with the Lido renourishment, SOSS2 has repeatedly signaled its intent to file a lawsuit over the project if necessary.

SOSS2 Chairman Peter van Roekens said he is waiting for the Army Corps to acquire the necessary permits to move forward with dredging before he files suit on behalf of his organization.

For now, he is partnering with other island organizations, such as the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce and Siesta Key Village Association, to help cover what he estimates is about $200,000 in impending legal fees. SOSS2 has raised about $62,000 and hopes to raise an additional $150,000 by encouraging Siesta stakeholders to contribute.