By Paul Roat
While sand wars are slated to start in Sarasota in late January, our neighbors to the north are quietly watching fine, white sand flow onto their eroded beaches.
A beach renourishment project began in mid-December for the southern two-thirds of Anna Maria Island. The $16 million project replaces sand lost from the beaches during Tropical Storm Debby in June 2012.
The gentle flow of sand-infused water pumped ashore on that island is in sharp contrast to the ongoing war of words regarding sand on Lido and Siesta Keys.
Lido is looking for an infusion of sand to combat perennial beach erosion. A quick sand fix is scheduled for later this year with sand from a shoal at the northwest tip of the key.
A bigger sand renourishment plan next year or even later would take sand from a portion of a shoal off the north end of Siesta Key. Siesta residents are leery of the sand removal. They argue the fine, white, virtually erosion-free shores of Siesta would suffer as a result of the loss of the shoal’s sand.
The sand wars between Lido and Siesta are expected to come to battle Jan. 28 when city, county, state, and federal officials meet to discuss the matter. At stake is an estimated $49 million dredging plan for Lido.
Best beach on two fronts
Fort De Soto Park is one of St. Petersburg’s gems and has received a pair of honors for one of its beaches.
The park, just north of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, is huge, with 1,136 acres, 238 camping spaces, more than 7 miles of trails, plus beaches with Tampa Bay and Gulf of Mexico vistas.
North Beach, on the Gulf, was named the nation’s number one beach in 2005 by Stephen “Dr. Beach” Leatherman, an honor he gave Siesta Beach in 2011.
North Beach was ranked as the best family beach by Dr. Beach for USA Today newspaper in December.
It also received the sixth-best beach ranking for accommodating Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community members, according to VISIT Florida, the public relations arm of the state tourism bureau, as reported in the Tampa Bay Times.
New way to run a city?
Newly elected city commissioners in Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island implemented a different governance tact last month. They fired the entire administrative staff.
Commissioners agreed that a significant shake-up of city employees was needed. All employees in the city clerk’s office were terminated, but will remain on staff while an office reorganization takes place including open hiring for all positions.
There are only a half-dozen or so people impacted, and it’s doubtful any will really get canned, but a message of changing the status quo in the small municipality is clear.
Bradenton Beach, by the way, is one of the few cities in Florida that is losing fulltime residents in favor of seasonal visitors.
Meanwhile, no backing up for Venice drivers
Heading through traffic south to Venice comes a non-backward bit of news.
Venice officials have nixed a proposal to have a portion of Venice Avenue undergo a traffic, well, reversal.
Proposed was a back-in parking scheme. Motorists pull past an angle parking space, then back into the spot. Proponents argue safety concerns for both motorists and pedestrians with the new parking approach.
In Venice, no one seemed to want to try the new park plan. Not one person spoke in favor of the change, officials agreed, and the parking pitch change was ditched.
Some Sarasota residents, in contrast, petitioned the city for a back-in parking system on Gulfstream Avenue near Downtown. The plan went into effect a few years ago to high praise.
Parking to ease, maybe, on St. Armands
High season on St. Armands Circle will be limited to shopping, strolling, and dining. No special events will be held at the internationally acclaimed shopping destination.
Sarasota officials agreed that the circle was suffering from a “too much of a good thing” syndrome. It seemed that the seemingly endless special events at the circle was drawing so many non-shoppers that eager consumers were driven away.
Merchants and business owners petitioned the city to cease issuance of special event approvals through April, a petition the commission endorsed.