Beach renourishment meets resistance

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SARASOTA, Fla. - The Suncoast's very own Siesta Key beach has been rated by some as #1 in the United States, but some locals believe a proposed dredging project of nearby Big Pass may affect the iconic white sand beach.

“There is the possibility of dredging Big Pass in an effort to provide renourishment for the Lido beach area," says Stephania Feltz, the Member Relations Director at Sarasota Yacht Club.

The U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers is proposing a plan to pump sand from a shoal in Big Pass into Lido Key where the eroded shore may affect condos, but boaters say when other areas were dredged, it did not last very long.

“We don't know how soon it will fill right back in, and it could create a monster by cutting it off altogether,” says John Hammes, a boater and member of Sarasota Yacht Club.

Big Pass is located between Siesta Key and Lido beach and its shoal, most widely known as a sandbar, protects Siesta Key beach from erosion.

Boaters say they have mixed feelings on the effect of the dredging, and believe that on one hand it could be positive, since the shallow depth of Big Pass makes traveling through difficult.

“For a boater, I kind of like the idea, in the short term, but in the long term, how it will affect Siesta Key, I really can't say,” says Hammes.

We reached out to the project manager, but he was unavailable. However, he tells the Sarasota Herald Tribune, the project will cost an estimated $22.7 million for the first phase. The project will extend for 50 years, and the dredging will alternate every 5 years.

“Everybody has a difference of opinions so what we want to do is to convene all of our members so they can hear the facts and then they can have an educated opinion on what's going on,” says Feltz.

The Sarasota Yacht Club is hosting a seminar this Saturday morning at 9 a.m. where the city of Sarasota and the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers will propose the plan and answer any questions boaters may have.