Reaction mixed over county's hiring of consultant on dredge plan

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Posted: Thursday, August 21, 2014 9:35 pm

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. -- No one doubts Lido Key needs more sand, but some wonder if the Army Corps of Engineers plan to dredge sand from Big Pass is a big mistake.

Some wonder if it could change the gulf currents that deposit the white floury sand on Siesta Beach.

That's why Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson led the charge to spend up to $50,000 to make sure the Corps' plan won't hurt Siesta Beach.

"They have made errors in the past," Patterson said.

So the county will hire an independent engineer, and Siesta Key residents like Peter van Roekens couldn't be happier. Van Roekens is a retired engineer who is against dredging Big Pass.  But if this independent consultant says it's okay to dredge?

"If it turns out there's no issues, great," van Roekens said.

And all this is being watched closely by the President of the Lido Key Residents Association.

"Siesta's not in favor (of dredging the pass between the Keys), there's no doubt about it, but from all the findings so far they say it's not going to hurt it," said Carl Shoffstall.

We reached out to the Army Corps of Engineers in Jacksonville for its reaction to Sarasota County hiring an outside engineer to review the Corps computer models and data and they said, "We welcome an independent review by the county if it will help assure the communities."

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