Sarasota County has requested $1 million, is awaiting final determination from Senate leaders
By John Morton
Sarasota County officials await a possible contribution from the state of Florida for assistance with up-front design and permitting costs for the possible restoration of Midnight Pass. The county has requested that the legislature provide $1 million.
On Jan. 17, state Rep. Fiona McFarland filed the request on behalf of the county.
On March 25, the Florida Legislature’s House members requested that $500,000 go toward the project when they released their appropriations bill. What the Senate will do in terms of a possible match remained uncertain as of April 24 — the legislative session is scheduled to end May 5.
Other state leaders to publicly support the project include state Sen. Joe Gruters and U.S. Rep. Greg Steube, who recently met with county officials on the matter.
Said Steube, “Reopening Midnight Pass would bring a series of positive improvements to Little Sarasota Bay – from both a water quality standpoint and a healthier environment for wildlife, homeowners on the bay, and visitors.
“My office stands ready to assist our local leadership in jump-starting a critical project that will make a real difference in Sarasota County. We are prepared to be a partner at the federal level as we navigate the many federal and state agencies involved in the unique nature of opening an inlet and restoring the bay to a marine system.”
Mike Evanoff, president of the non-profit Midnight Pass Society II, also expressed appreciation for the efforts in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C.
“We are excited to support the (Sarasota) Board of County Commissioners and happy it is moving the needle forward,” Evanoff wrote in an email. “It’s all about water quality and flow and renourishing the bay.
“We are also getting tremendous support from the community.”